Getting onto the Jazz & Heritage stage of this year's Jazz Fest wasn't exactly easy for the Pinettes. The first all-female brass band of New Orleans have been through it. Originally founded in 1991, the group was disbanded after members moved away in the aftermath of Katrina and only began to rebuild in 2006, when current band-leader Christie Jourdain tried to piece the group back together. With key players gone - either from relocating after the hurricane or losing interest - Jourdain's reconstruction meant recruiting rising brass stars from local high-schools and picking out trombonists, trumpeters, saxophonists, and drummers from neighboring bands. Now ranging in age from 17 to 38, the Pinettes won Saturday's stage headlining slot after competing in the annual Red Bull Street Kings event, an all-day party that pits neighborhood brass bands against one another in a battle for bragging rights. The Pinettes' win was the first time an all-female group had done so.
It's no surprise that the Pinettes' time on stage inevitably felt like a victory dance. The group’s raucous set was a fiery testament to the modern brass band’s love of mixing pop with their traditional roots. On Saturday, the ladies played everything from Mardi Gras congo anthems to Amy Winehouse’s "Valerie" and a brassy rendition of
"I'm Every Woman." The latter simultaneously served as a tribute to their fellow festival queen Chaka Khan and an anthemic roar on behalf of all of the Pinettes sisters new and old. PUJA PATEL