Berkeley’s “jazz funeral without a body”

On Saturday, as part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Arhoolie Records, the New Orleans-based Tremè Brass Band will lead a second line parade from Civic Center Park to the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse. One observer of New Orleans traditions calls the second line parade “a jazz funeral without a body”.

The parade will be the most public event in a three-day celebration of Arhoolie, which Freight executive director Steve Baker calls “the leading roots music recording company in the world”. Berkeleyan Chris Strachwitz started Arhoolie in November 1960 with a pressing of 250 copies of Mance Lipscomb’s “Texas Sharecropper and Songster”. The Freight’s celebration, with concerts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, and a number of talks (including one with Linda Ronstadt and Strachwitz on Mexican music), will benefit the Arhoolie Foundation, which holds the archives from the recording company.

The term second line parade refers to the second line — the public — following the first line, the band. Traditionally, second line paraders twirl a handkerchief or parasol in the air, but just following along in less exuberant Berkeley style is apparently acceptable. The second line parade will form at 4 pm in Civic Center Park.