The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

DuPont Brass takes a big step with its first tour

DuPont Brass caps a five-city tour with a performance at Union Stage. (Erica L. Blake)
Comment

DuPont Brass has made the rounds in its 11 years on the scene: It’s gone from Metro stations, to clubs and theaters, to U Street’s annual Funk Parade. But this time when the omnivorous 10-piece band hits D.C.’s Union Stage, those rounds will cover a lot more ground. The April 2 concert is the capstone of a five-city tour.

“Our very first tour,” says Brent Gossett — a.k.a. Bass Heavy Slim, the band’s sousaphone player and manager. “We start in Atlanta, which is one place the band has been really wanting to go. Then we’re stopping in Raleigh and Richmond, heading up to Baltimore, and then coming back down to D.C. on the 2nd. It’s pretty cool.”

It’s also a big step for what began as a street-busking brass quintet, playing for commuters in hopes of paying for their Howard University educations.

The original five — Gossett, trumpeters Anthony “Aye Ant” Daniel Jr. and Jared “MK Zulu” Bailey, and trombonists Joe “Jeauxsmeaux” Wilson and Isaac “Deacon Izzy” Bell IV — played together in various school ensembles. They first gathered as a unit in December 2011 to play Christmas carols on the streets of Georgetown (a Howard tradition).

“Georgetown wasn’t showing us any love” that year, Gossett recalls. “But Anthony says, ‘Hey, one of my friends told me that they really like music over in Dupont Circle. We should try it.’ ”

They were an instant hit. They set up a regular perch near the Dupont Circle south Metro entrance, even naming themselves for it (although they appeared at several other stations as well), and built a repertoire of jazz, funk and pop songs. Tips came flowing in, and so did requests to play gigs elsewhere.

“From there,” says Gossett, “we just kept it going.”

From The Post archives: DuPont Brass is done busking at Metro stations

As the band added guitarist “Turn Up” DeAnte Haggerty-Willis, keyboardist Peter “Mannyfantom” Roberts and drummer Stan “Da Man” Banks (plus new trumpeter “Cousin” Chris Allison and trombonist Matt “Fuzzy Da Plug” Thompson, as Bailey and Wilson moved to double the vocals and keys, respectively), its stylistic sweep grew as well. Contemporary hip-hop and R&B infused with the jazz and funk, with occasional flashes of just about every genre imaginable. Each member of the band contributed original compositions and arrangements. They made three recordings — “Halftime,” “Eclectic Soul” and “Music Education” — which hit streaming platforms and created fans outside the D.C. area, including the five cities on their tour.

Gossett says DuPont Brass’s first tour, originally planned for 2020, finds them at the top of their game. “This is one of our best musical presentations to date,” he says. “It’s next level for sure.”

April 2 at 7 p.m. at Union Stage, 740 Water St. SW. unionstage.com. $20. Proof of coronavirus vaccination is required for attendance.

Loading...