The first words you hear on Medicated Magic, the latest album from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, aptly sum up their appeal as a live act: "Ain't nothin' but a party." The New Orleans nonet (the "dozen" in their name comes not from the literal head count but from the Dirty Dozen Social and Pleasure Club, where they were once the house band) delivers a sound that is true to its second-line roots but never bound by them. Even as the DDBB have devoted their career to spreading the traditional sounds of the Crescent City, they've angered purists for adding nonsanctioned bits of funk, R&B, bebop and pop to the mix. Of course, the brass bands that refused to change with the times are mostly gone now; 25 years after forming, the Dirty Dozen is still going strong.
The proof is on Medicated Magic, where the band is joined by the likes of Norah Jones, DJ Logic, Olu Dara, Robert Randolph, Widespread Panic's John Bell and Dr. John. The group's genre-stretching renditions of such classics as "Cissy Strut," "Junko Partner," "Big Chief" and "Everything I Do Gon' Be Funky" are good medicine indeed. The DDBB's performance here is the centerpiece of the Mystic Knights of the Purple Haze Mardi Gras Ball at the St. Louis Casa Loma Ballroom.