he funky sounds of a live brass band told us we were missing something as
we checked into the South Street Inn near the downtown mall, a pedestrian-only area in Charlottesville. Because we were only a few blocks from the
University of Virginia, I pictured UVA’s marching band practicing down the
street. My daughter Helen and I, just emerging from a few hours in the car, hustled
our gear into the room and headed out on foot.
We followed the music into the night. One street away, we came upon Mono Loco,
a nouveau-Latin restaurant known for its margaritas. The outdoor patios were wall-to-wall with partiers undulating to the sounds of the Elby Brass Band, a homegrown
street band from Fredericksburg. The band came together in 2009 by recycling the
purple and gold marching band uniforms and battered sousaphone offered on
Craigslist by a Virginia high school. Here in Charlottesville, the all brass and percussion, all mobile musicians were bringing it to the streets with their brash, raw party
grooves. We joined the fun, dancing on the sidewalk.