A teaser for HBO's new series, Treme, hit the web. Since the show's creator is David Simon, the man responsible for Homicide and The Wire, we're all a-tizzy. The clip doesn't reveal much. But here's what we do know:
As New York magazine points out, you've got to pronounce it "Trem-ay." Historically, it was called Tremé, Faubourg Tremé or Tremé/Lafitte. Wikipedia claims "It remains an important center of the city's African-American and Créole culture, especially the modern brass band tradition." And, perhaps important for this project:
Parts of the Tremé neighborhood (particularly the area lakeside of Claiborne Avenue) have a crime problem.
This is also an interesting footnote:
The "town square" of Tremé was Congo Square — originally known as "Place de Nègres" — where slaves gathered on Sundays to dance. This tradition flourished until the United States took control, and officials grew more anxious about unsupervised gatherings of slaves in the years before the Civil War.
Musicians from Tremé include Alphonse Picou and Kermit Ruffins. While predominantly African-American, the population has been mixed from the 19th century through to the 21st. Jazz musicians of European ancestry such as Henry Ragas and Louis Prima also lived in Tremé. Also, Joe's Cozy Corner in Tremé is often considered the birthplace of Rebirth Brass Band, one of the most notable current New Orleans bands.
Which leads us to number 2…
2. Music is key.
Although there are no actors in the teaser, there are instruments, hanging out in abandoned locations. Music is going to play a part in this show. But, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, David Simon promised: 'This won't be The Wire with a better soundtrack. It's a completely different animal." Still, the WSJ reporter arrived on set at Bullet's Sports Bar "as Kermit Ruffins coaxed high notes from his trumpet." It's clear that Simon is enthralled by the New Orleans sound: "I remember stumbling into my first second-line parade maybe 20 years ago," he told the WSJ. "The Treme brass band went up Orleans Avenue to Claiborne Avenue, then stopped under the I-10 bridge. The echo was fantastic. They went past the Lafitte projects and people came out of their homes to join in. I was all the way up in Mid-City before I realized I'd walked 30 blocks and would have to walk all the way back. I didn't know exactly what was going on, but I was hooked."
Ahem. Wendell Pierce, who played Bunk in The Wire, has been cast as a trombone player. (This picture is from the January 15 print edition of Entertainment Weekly.) Pierce was born in the Big Easy, and told Blog Of New Orleans:
One of the things I was most anxious about was playing with all the musicians. Being from New Orleans, they're all friends and people whose work I admired for so long. I wanted to make sure I did my part to be as authentic as possible.
My trombone player who was helping me was Stafford Agee… Stafford told me, "When I was starting to play, I was sleeping with my horn. Are you sleeping with your horn?" I'm like, "Oh wow, I got to sleep with my horn?" I was afraid I was going to break it, because I'm a wild man in bed.
Last year, Pierce, who was prominently featured in Spike Lee's documentary about Hurricane Katrina, When The Levees Broke, talked to the New York Times about being president of the Community Development Corporation in New Orleans and the "overwhelming responsibility" he feels about playing a jazz musician: "I'm not ready to go on the soundtrack yet, but I'll look authentic," he said. In this pic, he is all smiles, although commenters on Trombone Forum noted that he's holding his horn upside down.
We're psyched for the reported April premiere of Treme... even if there's no Omar.
Trailer Is Unveiled For David Simon's 'Treme' [AdFreak]
Treme Trailer: David Simon Has Done It Again! [New York]
Wendell Pierce on Treme [Blog Of New Orleans]
Home to His Acting and His Activism [NY Times]