Brandon "B" Franklin PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 07 April 2009 03:49
     Music bro, to me it’s the best thing that God ever created. I put that horn in my mouth and I’m jolly. Coming home from practice, I’m jolly. Just listening on my iPod, I’m jolly. This all I got, so you know I gotta get it. You heard me? They gonna know about TBC and Brandon Franklin. Ya feel me? It’s coming up. Straight off the dump...Read More
For To Be Continued Brass Band links and videos visit Joesph Maize Jr.'s page
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Brandon Franklin and TBC
written by Gwen Hardison, May 10, 2010
It is a tragic loss for a young brilliant musician to die at such an early age....the world will never know what greatness could have been achieved.
written by Jim Flynn, May 11, 2010
Brandon “B” Franklin from New Orleans

My daddy played the saxophone back in high school. I ain’t never heard him play, cause he don’t fool with it no more. He had too many kids, so he had to work to take care of us. I felt him, so I said I’m gonna play saxophone. Got my first horn in seventh grade at Colton Middle School. Miss McGowen and Mr. Haynes, man they could teach. By eighth grade I was drum major, leading the whole band. I got to Carver and the band, we ran that school. We could be on the yard making trouble and ain’t nobody mess with us, because come parade season we the ones y’all gonna be following representing for Carver.
First time I played on Bourbon, I was spooking. From number one, I know my daddy, he don’t want me to be out here. And then it’s just wild out here, it’s bust open. I missed a lot of the early part on the strain of my daddy not wanting me to be out there, but now that’s all I be doing. Music all day so you know that’s how I gotta get it. Ya feel me? Straight off the dump. I ain’t about to get up everyday and jump on the back of trash truck to make a dollar to survive.
My people don’t really want me to do it. They want me to go to school, get the education and all that. After Katrina, I went back and got my high school diploma, but college, I’m putting that aside. I just wanna pursue this right quick, cause it just might be that break.
Right now my baby momma, we split up on the strain of my music. She ain’t like the fact that I’m always gone, this, that and the other. I go out of town, she think I’m hitting something, you heard? But it ain’t about that, it’s not to get no stripes, it’s just that I got to do what I gotta to do. I know I gotta support my son, and I know music is gonna be it, so I gotta get with it.
My son, man, this dude gonna be something special. He’s liable to be the president. I’m serious, he got that glow. Love that dude, man. I ain’t seen him in a week though. His momma been playing games with me, trying to keep him from me. I’m trying to humble myself on that situation, ‘cause I know whatever goes down with me and his momma, I’m gonna be there for that dude.
I’m gonna be straight up with you, when TBC first started playing, we ain’t really practice, we just out there joking around and playing straight from the gut. For a lot of these guys, that’s still all they want to do. But me, I’m twenty-one, and I know what’s up with life. I know if we’re gonna make it as a band, we gotta be moving in new directions.
Me personally, I wanna take this here music to Mars. I’m getting deep into classical music, bebop, that elevator music, like Kenny G. Don’t talk about that, that’s gonna do, I love that. People in the band be joking on me, but I don’t give a fuck. Say what you want about B. I’m gonna do me. Anybody that can teach me something, I’m gonna listen. Like, if we out there on Bourbon and somebody wanna step in with the band, I don’t have a problem with that, cause I might snatch something from you. If you can play, I’m gonna try and learn something from you.
Music bro, to me it’s the best thing that God ever created. I put that horn in my mouth and I’m jolly. Coming home from practice, I’m jolly. Just listening on my iPod, I’m jolly. This all I got, so you know I gotta get it. You heard me? They gonna know about TBC and Brandon Franklin. Ya feel me? It’s coming up.
Straight off the dump.
written by Jim Flynn, May 11, 2010
I’ve only known B since last September and we’ve only spoken for a few hours or so. When we first met, I had just arrived from New York to photograph and interview New Orleans street performers for a book called Sidewalk Saints. I’d already ran some tape on some other young brass bands in the Quarter, but none of them played the streets with the energy and regularity of TBC. Though I’d photographed TBC dozens of times on Bourbon and Canal, the band was so tight knit and wary of media exploitation that after six months and countless late night visits to Bourbon and Canal, I knew everybody in the band but somehow still hadn’t recorded a proper interview.

Eventually I invited the band to practice at the warehouse where I lived in the Bywater. Every the Monday the band would roll up in two or three cars, unload their horns, and rehearse for a few hours. The band seemed to run in three cliques: the Trombones - Joe, Juicy and Daven were focused on keeping it tight; the trumpets - Chris, Sean and Darryl came to knock fire, and the rhythm section – Bernard, Darren and Antoine just kept the beat rockin. Brandon was cool with everybody, but as the lone saxophonist, to a certain extent he rolled solo. Sometimes he’d take the bus to practice by himself.

One night in November, Brandon arrived early. While waiting for the rest of the band to show up, he pulled his beater horn out of his case and started playing along to some of the sheet music I had been struggling with on the piano. Suddenly his reed fell off his mouthpiece.

“Hey Jim, you got any duct tape?”

When I returned with a roll, he sectioned off a piece, wrapped it around his mouth piece and stuck his horn back into his mouth. I sat behind the keys and struggled to keep up. Halfway through the song I messed up pretty badly, so I got up and excused myself for my terrible chops.
To my surprise, Brandon actually asked me to sit back down. He wanted me to show him how to read a chord chart. Here I was a total amateur, who barely knew how to play any jazz, couldn’t even dance at a second line, and B who plays for money six nights a week was asking me about music theory. For the next half hour I showed him everything I knew about chord formation. He ate it right up. All these times I’d heard B blow his heart out for hundreds of people out on Bourbon, and finally I realized that every note came straight from his ears and his gut. But that wasn’t enough. He was thirsty to push his sound farther. B was constantly borrowing music books and hanging out with other horn players, soaking up their insights. Saturday nights, he would wail the tried and true riffs, but on weeknights you could hear him experimenting with new sounds, trying to push his musical vocabulary farther, not being afraid to make mistakes.
Shortly after, I sat down with B for an interview. All of the reluctance and distance that I’d perceived over the past six months vanished instantly. He told me everything, laying his mind wide open into my microphone. What follows is the edited version of our encounter that appears in Sidewalk Saints. It reflects only small portion of B. That it comes to such an untimely end is an unspeakable tragedy. I hope that B’s words will serve to inspire the lives and music of those he loved. Rest in Peace B. (The actual interview is two hours long. I will be posting audio clips as youtube videos tomorrow at this page.
Jim Flynn in NYC 5/11

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