Arts & Culture

Ocean Springs' Blackwater Brass brings the funk, groove and brew

Blackwater Brass at The Greenhouse on Porter

Blackwater Brass, a 10-piece band, performs at The Greenhouse on Porter Avenue in Ocean Springs.
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Blackwater Brass, a 10-piece band, performs at The Greenhouse on Porter Avenue in Ocean Springs.

Corey Christy, when he was discussing the origins of the Ocean Springs-based band Blackwater Brass, said he'd been wanting to start a funk band.

"Gary (Cooper), the drummer, and I were itching to start a funk band about a year ago," Christy, the band's bassist and vocalist, said. "We found a guy who could play trumpet and next thing you know, we started playing shows and people were like, 'Hey, I know a guy that plays sousaphone, would you like to meet him,' and here we are."

Christy got his funk band and much more. Blackwater Brass is a 10-piece group that is equal parts New Orleans funk (à la The Meters), second line jazz band and Parliament/Funkadelic.

"We do a lot of groove stuff -- kind of like the JBs period of James Brown," he said. "We do a lot of second line-type stuff but unlike most New Orleans brass bands, we have electric bass, guitar and keyboards."

Blackwater Brass' has developed a faithful fan base.

"I don't think we have a weekend off until July," Christy said. "We're doing a lot of festivals and we do a regular bar rotation, too. We keep very busy."

He said one of the keys to the band's success is its versatility.

"We do a lot of things, from Dr. John covers to Cannonball Adderley," he said. "But we are versatile -- we were playing a show one time and the power went out and I just picked up my megaphone and we kept playing."

The band will have a chance to display that versatility Saturday night when they perform at Kress Live. They will be appearing on the bill with Sabotage, New Orleans funk tribute production to the Beastie Boys. Blackwater Brass will pay homage to Rage Against the Machine.

"We love Rage and we are really excited about this," Christy said. "We've worked up some cool stuff."

But tribute shows and festivals aren't the only things on the horizon for Blackwater Brass. Crooked Letter Brewing Co. in Ocean Springs is teaming up with Christy and company to launch a second batch of Blackwater Brew.

"The last run was really successful, and Crooked Letter has reworked the recipe to make a lighter version of the beer, which will be perfect for spring," he said.

The brew is a pale ale infused with habanero peppers. Blackwater Brew V2 will be available April 30 at The Shed in Ocean Springs.

Zach Fellman, the band's keyboardist, said the high-profile shows and beer brands would not be possible without Christy's dedication.

"He works hard for the band," Fellman said. "He does the booking and marketing and social media -- he's a very driven person, and that drive is starting to pay off."