Treme Pays Tribute to Local Musicians of New Orleans By Featuring Them

HBO will debut a new show, Treme, on Sunday, April 11th. Set in New Orleans, Treme tells the story of the city rebuilding itself three months after Hurricane Katrina struck by focusing on the musicians. Producers David Simon and Eric Overmyer, who worked together on The Wire, have taken special care to reveal the reality of what occurred to the city.

Any show striving for authenticity about New Orleans demands high caliber musicians.  In addition to serving as the title of the show, Treme is a New Orleans brass band. The creators are determined to help the local musicians and feature “live” performances rather than studio recordings.  In the first episode, Treme, Rebirth, Ruffins and Elivis Costello all play themselves on the show.

According to Blake Leyh, music supervisor for the show,

“Any note of music that you hear in this show would be music that you could have heard in that situation,” Leyh continues. That means there is no incidental music composed to dramatically heighten a scene. “The idea that I would write some music that would tell this story better than the music that’s already here—why would I do that?”

This concept financially supports the bands who have struggled to regain their footing since the hurricane.  Treme use a combination of actors and the New Orleans community that tells the story.  Cast members include New Orleans native Wendell Pierce (“The Wire”), Clarke Peters (“The Wire”), Khandi Alexander (“The Corner”), Melissa Leo (“Frozen River”), Steve Zahn (“That Thing You Do!”) and Kim Dickens (“Deadwood”).   Wendel Pierce portrays a trombone player who is a member of Treme.  Pierce has a sound/performance double since, but for the measures when he is on screen performing, it is him performing.

Coincidently, Viola and I saw some of the members of Treme walking around Jackson Square. Although a little blurry, the image on the right is of Treme.  As I posted early this week, Viola and I were in New Orleans last week.  Both of us are yearning to go back since returning to Chicago.  We love Chicago, but New Orleans is something else.  I have found the right way to describe it yet.  New Orleans breathes music like no other place I’ve visited.  Viola is currently working on a post discussing some of the musicians we encountered, so I won’t spoil it for her.

For more information about Treme, Offbeat, the local New Orleans magazine, has a great article.

Here is the “Making of” video from HBO.

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