Can’t Be Faded
Twenty Years in the New Orleans Brass Band Game
A collaborative blast of history and inspiration from top-of-the-line musicians
The Stooges Brass Band always had big dreams. From playing in the streets of New Orleans in the mid-1990s to playing stages the world over, they have held fast to their goal of raising brass band music and musicians to new heights—professionally and musically. In the intervening years, the band’s members have become family, courted controversy, and trained a new generation of musicians, becoming one of the city’s top brass bands along the way. Two decades after their founding, they have decided to tell their story.
Can’t Be Faded: Twenty Years in the New Orleans Brass Band Game is a collaboration between musician and ethnomusicologist Kyle DeCoste and more than a dozen members of the Stooges Brass Band, past and present. It is the culmination of five years of interviews, research, and writing. Told with humor and candor, it’s as much a personal account of the Stooges’ careers as it is a story of the city’s musicians and, even more generally, a coming-of-age tale about black men in the United States at the turn of the twenty-first century.
DeCoste and the band members take readers into the barrooms, practice rooms, studios, tour vans, and streets where the music is made and brotherhoods are shaped and strengthened. Comprised of lively firsthand accounts and honest dialogue, Can’t Be Faded is a dynamic approach to collaborative research that offers a sensitive portrait of the humans behind the horns.
"Comprised of lively firsthand accounts and honest dialogue, Can't Be Faded is a dynamic approach to collaborative research that offers a sensitive portrait of the humans behind the horns. "- New Books Network
"Can’t be Faded is, by every measure, an exemplary collaboration between the Stooges and DeCoste. Together they take us deep into the worlds, and indeed the heads, of New Orleans brass band musicians. "- Ray Allen, American Music Review Vol. L, Issue 2, Spring 2021
"Kyle DeCoste’s work is a welcome and vital contribution not only to the scholarship of twentieth- and twenty-first-century improvisational Black American Music of New Orleans, but to the story of New Orleans culture and African American life. From the Stooges Brass Band members’ accounts of the joy of the 'Street Kings' stage competition, to the pain of behind-the-scenes competition in the brass band community, to the tragedy of violence that hits too close to home, Can’t Be Faded is a stellar document of musical life, community, and brotherhood. It is ethnomusicological, anthropological, and soulful, all at the same time. "- Melissa A. Weber, host of WWOZ’s Soul Power with Soul Sister and curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive
"Kyle DeCoste transports us to the streets and stages where the Stooges Brass Band reigns. He takes us backstage and into the lives of musicians who struggle to give the world their beautiful music. Most of all, he lets the Stooges speak for themselves. The result is an uproarious tale that—like the music—is deceptively complex. A true gift to all of us enchanted by New Orleans music. "- Matt Sakakeeny, associate professor of music at Tulane University and author of Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans
"The voices of the musicians who have served in the Stooges, rendered with sensitivity by the coauthor, make this a compelling read, showing how music builds community, despite the often-hyperbolic competition that defines New Orleans brass bands. This is a saga of bootstrap success akin to Louis Armstrong’s, outlining for today’s youth the challenges facing musicians striving for artistic and commercial success. "- Bruce Boyd Raeburn, author of New Orleans Style and the Writing of American Jazz History
"Can’t Be Faded contributes to and expands the growing landscape of recent, quality collaborative ethnographies with musicians and other cultural figures working in New Orleans, . . .. Can’t Be Faded will likely interest anybody with a personal or scholarly interest in the musical culture of New Orleans and its musicians"- Conal M. McNamara, Music Reference Services Quarterly
"As a jazz biography, Can’t Be Faded succeeds exceptionally with introducing readers to the complex world of New Orleans brass band culture while also connecting it to the pressing social issues that frame the musicians and the music."- Zada Johnson, The Journal of American Folklore