Wendell Pierce as Antoine Batiste in 'Treme'
A tour of New Orleans musicians under the banner of the HBO show Treme has booked nine dates this summer, and the promoter is looking to extend its routing into the spring of 2012.
"A Night in Treme" is scheduled for June 10-13 in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C., and will be playing a few festivals in July, August and September. Ann Arbor, Mich., Atlanta, Portland, Ore., and Seattle are likely early stops.
The primary participants in the show -- Kermit Ruffins, Rebirth Brass Band, Donald Harrison -- have been featured in the series, which starts its second season on Apr. 24.
Treme star Wendell Pierce, who portrays trombonist Antoine Batiste, will record a spoken-word piece that details the history of Treme, a musically rich neighborhood in New Orleans. He will appear in person at some gigs to present the informational portion of the show.
"In a way, the show is like Jell-O -- it's a little slippery, not completely solid in formation," Treme tour promoter Danny Melnick of Absolutely Live says about the revolving cast that will appear on "Night in Treme" bills. "Each date is unique to itself. It's a night of education and entertainment that tries to make sure people understand the history, understand New Orleans and what it means to the world and that people should go to New Orleans to hear more of this music.
"The idea is that we do this without preaching. The Rebirth Brass Band is there to party."
Melnick, whose recent package tours have included "Kind of Blue" at 50 and Blue Note Records at 70, and an agent for Ted Kurland Associates, Jack Randall, came up with the idea for a Treme-related show early last year. Melnick and Randall took the idea of a spring-fall tour in 2010 to HBO, which suggested holding off until the show had aired and they could gauge whether it would go into a second season.
Melnick started to offer the package tour at January's Association of Performing Arts Presenters convention in New York.
"It was a little strange to be selling it while it was still being assembled," Melnick says, noting that clarinetist Michael White, trombonist Big Sam Williams, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, the Soul Rebels brass band, James Andrews and Glen David Andrews are among the artists booked on "Night in Treme" bills. "The show is not about the themes of the TV show, the return to New Orleans after Katrina. It's about everything that came before."
Saxophonist Harrison has been a central figure in formulating the show, which will begin rehearsals in New Orleans soon. Primary interest in the show has come from performing arts centers, many of which have subscription series, and festivals. Once more dates are booked, Melnick anticipates developing cross-promotional tie-ins with presenters and HBO.