Red’s Sunday JazzFest Pick: Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue



Above is footage of Trombone Shorty, our beloved Treme-tian, playing the title track from his new CD ‘Backatown’ at the Louisiana Music Factory during their free Jazz Fest in-store concerts happening this week. Universal Records recently signed our boy and his Orleans Avenue Band to his first record deal under a genre he and his bandmates created call ‘SupaFunkRock’, of which I concur. Its really unlike anything else out there, just like his hometown New Orleans.

I couldn’t get thru the throngs to get over and talk to Troy Michael (that’s what his people him and we’re all his people) but I got some side time with his percussionist Dwayne Williams who is also plays bass drum for The Stooges Brass Band. Dwayne, who’s 23 years old, grew up across the street from Troy Michael on Robertson and Dumaine, the epicenter of Where It Goes Down in Treme and has been playing music with him since they were both three years old. Dwayne shared a great story about his childhood days playing in the original ‘Trombone Shorty Brass Band’ which included Troy’s cousin Glen David Andrews, Sammy Cyrus from The Hot 8, and Travis Nelson.

“We used to play for tips in the French Quarter. The cops came and arrested us one day for disturbing the peace... They piled us all in the back of the police car with our instruments and took right over there to that station on Royal St. When our parents came to pick us up, we asked, ‘Where’s our money?’ They said, ‘You didn’t have any money’ and handed us some change, dimes and quarters. But we had around $3,000 and they kept that.”

The little musicians, however, weren’t taking getting played by the NOPD. They protested for three weeks straight, marching from the French Quarter to City Hall. Dwayne laughed, “Sam wore a homemade sign that said ‘We Went To Jail For Playing Music”. Weeks of protesting, court appearances and public pressure led to the passage by the City Council of an ordinance that allows musicians to play music in the French Quarter without threat of being arrested. As of press time, I wasn’t able to confirm the actual ordinance language, but if it’s true - which seems completely plausible to me - we have Trombone Shorty and his people to thank for pioneering more than just SupaFunkRock - they trailblazed the road for musician’s rights in New Orleans. So next time you see Troy Michael, Dwayne anem, make sure you give them their props.

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue will be performing at Jazz Fest Sunday from 2-3pm at the Gentilly Stage. This is where you go for that FIRE. And make sure and listen up for my new favorite jam (a lot of ladies’ favorite actually) called ‘Show Me Something Beautiful’.

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