Bennie Pete, sousaphonist and founding member of the Hot 8 Brass Band Passes
We are deeply saddened by the news the passing of Bennie Pete, sousaphonist and founding member of the Hot 8 Brass Band.
New Orleans’ Hot 8 Brass Band has epitomized New Orleans funk-style brass band street music for over two decades with members born and raised in New Orleans, many playing together since high school and continuing to maintain strong, family-like bonds.
It is said that an evening with the Hot 8 is like no other, and we remember well a particular performance of The Hot 8 at The Green Parrot shortly after the passing of our dear friend and NOLA raconteur Coy Labeau. After I first explained to Bennie who Coy was and what he meant to us I asked him if they could play something to honor Coy, and Bennie simply said, “Of course we will, because in New Orleans, that’s how we do”
So, after placing one of Coy’s Zulu Krewe medallions, borrowed from Tom Robinson, on the trumpet player’s mike stand Bennie Pete and the rest of the band proffered up the standard “I’ll Fly Away” a hymn frequently used in worship services and often performed at funerals, in honor of Coy.
We also recall fondly this telling and powerful remembrance of Hot 8, given in the wake of Katrina, “Said filmmaker and New Orleans native Royce Osborn, “Those first few parades after the storm, The Hot 8 carried us, they literally lifted the city on their big brawny shoulders and carried us through the streets, insisting that the shit was going to get better.”