YLC’s Wednesday at the Square really outdid themselves with the one-two punch of Westbank Mike and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Lafayette Square was already packed when we arrived and Irene Sage was playing tambourine with the Westbank Mike boys. Even trumpeter Ian Smith joined in for the bluesy funky songs. For those not in the know, the “Westbank” is the part of New Orleans on the other side of the Mississippi, lead singer and guitarist Mike Doussan’s home.
The lines were longer than usual but we got Pulled Pork over Roasted Corn Cheese Grits ($6) from Squeal and Greens and Cornbread ($5) from Ms. Linda’s Ya Ka Mein. Not only were there members of the 610 Stompers dance troupe manning the Squeal booth, 3 Stompers took the stage and gave us a 3 song display of their “ordinary men, extraordinary moves.”
I’m crunched for time to explain what an amazing show Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue put on, but it’s just as well as I’ve blogged about them since first being blown away by their talent in 2010 (to see past posts, click here). At Jazz Fest, I was a few jam-packed football fields from the stage, but at the Square, things remain more intimate and the crowd is almost entirely local.
Though we see this band often, there were a few surprises. For one, they covered Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get it On. Then legendary Allen Toussaint came out to endorse the band and wave hello looking sharp as a tack in his suit and tie.
Then Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews’ cousins Travis “Trumpet Black” Hill and Glen David Andrews, one of the most powerful showman in the city, joined the group and whipped the crowd into a dance frenzy. What a treat! Doubly so because it was a reuniting of the “5 O’Clock Band.” As children in the Treme, cousins Troy, Glen David and Travis would play second line everyday after school. As Glen David Andrews described in a recent interview with me, the kids would bang on cardboard boxes and even wear a tire over their shoulder as a “tuba.”
As if all of that weren’t enough, the entire band and their guests surrounded Joey Peebles and his drum kit and played one of the most spectacular drum solos I’ve ever heard.
As they had at Jazz Fest, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue closed the show with Do to Me. We all “got low” then went “crazy” then sang our “Ba ba da da da’s.” Troy Andrews said in a biographical short film, “My horn is my passport.” He’s right and it has taken him to the White House and all over the world. The band leaves next week for months on the road again and I suppose we will have to share them with the world more and more.
As we headed out, termites swarmed the streetlights like something Biblical. As a few people in the crowd freaked out, I was reminded that New Orleans isn’t for everyone – but for those of us meant to be here, it holds yummy food, unparalleled music (often for free) and Wednesday afternoons spent with friends in a park. Next week, the series closes out with Irvin Mayfield & the Jazz Playhouse Revue with special guest Kermit Ruffins. I can hear the dueling trumpets now. The New Orleans Jazz Institute’s Saturday Music School will open.