The second line is a musical tradition originating in New Orleans where a “main line” or “first line” of brass musicians leads a parade of dancing followers, referred to as the “second line.” Any observer or passerby is encouraged by the second line to join the parade, which is often called “second lining.” Often times participants will uphold traditional New Orleans dance by twirling parasols or handkerchiefs in the air, or by emulating the historic dancing styles developed in Congo Square. A second line snare drummer will often follow the first line and play a distinct improvised polyrhythmic drum line, which eventually inspired various forms of early jazz drumming throughout the United States in the 1950s.
The second line has been a cherished cultural tradition in New Orleans since the early 1800s, where the best known second lines were organized by heritage clubs and charitable organizations. The oldest running second line is sponsored by the Young Men Olympian Junior Benevolent Association, which was founded in 1884. In addition, The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation hosts a second line during each day of Jazz Fest to provide visitors of the city a taste of this cultural tradition. Charitable and festive second lines have become so common in New Orleans that city residents expect at least one major second line every Sunday of the week.
Modern New Orleans groups like the Rebirth Brass Band and the Dirty Dozens Brass Band both feature traditional second line drumming and brass-powered first lines, and are frequent hosts of second line parades. Historically in New Orleans, Treme and Central City have been the two neighborhoods with the strongest ties to the cultural tradition, although second lines can also be found in other historic wards. Sometimes called “Treme Prince,” Glen David Andrews is a staple New Orleans trombonist and vocalist who’s no stranger to the tradition of his hometown neighborhood. In fact, when Glen David Andrews and his “first line” performed at DROM in the East Village back in 2015, he brought this esteemed New Orleans tradition to the streets of New York by leading a second line through Tompkins Park. (video below)
The Glen David Andrews Band returns to New York City this weekend on Saturday, February 18th to perform at The Hall at MP in Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s newest music venue just blocks from the Bedford L Stop. Milo Z and the Z Funk Band and Cuzins the Band will provide support, with doors at 6 and show at 8. Advanced tickets are still available via Ticketweb, with a Premium Reserved Seating option available. (tickets) Who knows, the Glen David Andrews Band might bring enough brass-powered heat on Saturday night to fuel a winter-time second line through the streets of Brooklyn!