Second-Line Dancing

The tradition of brass band street parades goes back well over a century to the first jazz funerals, held by jazz musicians when one of their brethren died. In the jazz funeral parade, the band follows the coffin, behind that is the “second-line” made up of family, friends, and mourners. On the way to the grave the mood is somber and the band is often playing “Flee as a Birde,” a slow dirge with muffled drum. In the walk home, jubilation and rejoicing overtake the crowd as they celebrate the departed’s joyful entry into heaven, often to the tune of up-tempo jazz “Oh Didn’t He Ramble.” Today, these marching bands are made up primarily of brass, reeds, and percussion. They can be hired to play at both funerals and parades, and still often donate their services for fellow musicians.