The Harvest the Music concert series in Lafayette Square continues to delight while feeding the hungry. This week, Stooges Brass Band and Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue took the stage. To say I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks is an understatement. I last saw these two bands paired at the House of Blues during last Jazz Fest and they were amazing, high octane, super-energized bundles of talent.
First to take the stage was Stooges. There’ve been a few changes in the group since its inception in 1996. New faces have been added, others are missing, but the group continues to fill the stage with sexy, silly, shake-that-brass enthusiasm. Their blend of jazz and hip hop led to a Red Bull Street Kings battle win and the title of “Best Contemporary Brass Band” at this year’s Big Easy Music Awards. The Stooges Brass Band plays the Hi Ho Lounge every Thursday so there’s no excuse to miss what they’re dishing.
They opened their set with a rousing rendition of We Got That Fire, pushing the crowd to jump in right away and participate in call-backs. A definite highlight was Wind it Up! In addition to just being a great funky song, the band lined up along the front of the stage and treated us all to some hip gestures that would make Elvis blush. Later tunes accompanied dance moves that looked somewhat like the “stepping” I used to see on campus in college.
A more passionate moment was Why’d You Have to Kill Him? dedicated to Hot 8 Brass Band trombonist, Joseph “Shotgun Joe” Williams who was killed at the age of 22 by the NOPD in 2004. (As a note to those who don’t live in NOLA, a “shotgun” can refer to a few things but most commonly means a type of house here named for the floor plan that would allow you to theoretically shoot a gun through the front door and have it pass through the house and out the back door without hitting any walls).
I could tell you that I bought food and beverage to help Second Harvest feed the hungry – every dollar spent can feed a family of 4 one meal. But, the truth is, I arrive at the show hungry and look forward to sampling new things and getting some old favorites. Squeal’s Pulled Pork over Roasted Corn Cheese Grits ($6) is definitely my favorite dish this season. I also tried the Veggie Paella from Martin Wine Cellar ($5). A refreshing watermelon juice snoball from Beaucoup Juice ($4) was my dessert and I stayed hydrated with Abita beer ($4) . That’s a great meal that will lead to 19 families of 4 having a meal.
Trombone Shorty’s latest CD, For True, was already ranked number 2 on the Jazz chart before it even dropped on September 13th this year. It rose immediately to number one, unseating Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. First released in 1959, Kind of Blue is the greatest selling Jazz album of all time. Considering Trombone Shorty’s last effort, Backatown was nominated for a Grammy in 2011, For True seems poised for greatness. I downloaded the CD from iTunes the week it came out and absolutely love it.
Though the Harvest the Music show was purely Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, the CD features contributions from everyone from Lenny Kravitz and Jeff Beck to some Neville brothers and Kid Rock. But Orleans Avenue is plenty enough without all the fancy guest stars. One of my favorite parts of any Trombone Shorty show is the solos. Guitarist Pete Murano continues to grow into the rock star he was clearly meant to be. Saxophonist Tim McFatter absolutely killed his solo. After being treated to drum beats from Joey Peebles and Dwayne Williams, the baritone sax of Dan Oestreicher and Mike Ballard’s funky bass, I had to remind myself that these guys are all very young (Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is 25) and are essentially a high school band from New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), a prestigious local arts school. (Click here for more history and stories of the band).
The band’s sound is parts funk, jazz, pop and R&B, a New Orleans gumbo of greatness. I’m a fan of the Prince-like tunes Show Me Something Beautiful from Backatown and Roses on For True, both of which we were treated to during the show. And it is a full-on show. The packed-to-bursting park danced, cheered and sang as the guys played new favorites like Encore and old favorites like the audience-participation Hurricane Season (easily one of my favorites of many, many favorites). As Trombone Shorty pulled one of his signature circular-breathing super-long trumpet notes, a local whispered that Shorty had learned the technique at 15 years old and proceeded to hold a note for over 20 minutes his first time around.
It was fun to watch the guys “backing it up” as we chanted for each band member to take a turn, “Tim, can you back it up? Tim can you back it up?” It all crescendoed into Ballard thrashing on the ground as all the band members encircled him, cheering him on.
The show built to Show Me Something Beautiful before ending with the upbeat new tune, Do to Me. Shorty’s showmanship knows few bounds and, at the end of each performance, he proudly displays his horns like a boxer holding up a newly won belt. But, lest you think he’s all style, Trombone Shorty and his band are highly talented, disciplined musicians whose music continues to get better with age. I, for one, can’t wait to hear their next CD.
Dirty Dozen Brass Band and John Cleary’ Philthy Phew will be making the music next week!
Enjoy the photos, including shots of DancingMan504 with Skinz N Bonez and check out my latonola.com tank top and my newly painted Who Dat! toes.