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   RIP, Kerwin James (and New Orleans and Houston too)

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10/3/2007 9:00 am

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Entered 3/24/2010, Updated 3/24/2010

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New Birth Brass Band tuba player Kerwin James, who walked out of devastated New Orleans with his instrument on his back, passed away Friday at a Houston hospital. He had been in a coma since the summer of 2006, when he suffered a devastating stroke at a gig in the Galleria area. James, the brother of the Rebirth Brass Band’s tuba player Phillip Frazier and bass drummer Keith Frazier, was 35. The aftermath of his death says a lot about both Houston and New Orleans. They seem to be becoming the same place in some ways. When the news of his passing hit James’s native Treme neighborhood in New Orleans, a spontaneous parade erupted on St. Phillip Street. That’s just the way they have always rolled over there, the way, as one attendee put it in this NOLA.com report, they honor fallen musicians "from the day they pass until the day they're put in the ground." But this procession was different. This time, while the band played the old hymn “I’ll Fly Away” with tears streaming down their faces, the cops decided to make the parade fly away. Twenty squad cars descended on the procession, and in an ensuing fracas, snare drummer Derrick Tabb and trombonist/singer Glen David Andrews were arrested for disturbing the peace.


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