Earfull: Trombone Shorty




Grammy-nominated recording artist Trombone Shorty and his band, Orleans Avenue, will make their F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts debut on Friday, Jan. 17 at 8 p.m.
Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is currently touring in support of his third record, Say That To Say This (Verve Records). The album was co-produced by Andrews and Raphael Saadiq. Andrews’ previous projects include 2010’s Grammy-nominated Backatown and his sophomore effort, For True, which spent 12 weeks atop Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Chart. He has recently been featured on Conan, The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Austin City Limits and in a recurring role on the hit HBO series Treme.
We caught up with Trombone Shorty earlier this week and he spoke about his musical influences, passing on his passion for music to generations to come and what to expect at a Trombone Shorty show.

It was recently announced that you’ll be playing Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival this year. Talk about some of the things you’d like to accomplish in 2014.
I haven’t really thought about it yet. I just want to continue to get stronger and spend some time at home in the next month or two to rewrite some of my music and play some songs I’ve never played live before — push the music forward. We just want to continue to play, grow stronger as musicians and continue to spread our music to the world. We haven’t singled out anything we want to accomplish just yet — we’re still in show and touring mode. We’ll be able to think more about it once we get a break.

Who are some of your musical influences?
I listen to a lot of Lil’ Wayne, Jay Z, Eminem and Drake. I like Nine Inch Nails. Lenny Kravitz was a big influence on me. Prince, Stevie Wonder. Growing up, it was Rebirth Brass Band, Louis Armstrong, The Meters and The Neville Brothers. I listen to a lot of Zac Brown and Ministry. It’s all over. We have a lot of influences even though we’re doing what we’re doing. I listen to everything — I grew up like that. I think that listening to everything, being exposed to the music and also being from the city of New Orleans, I’m pretty sure that’s why my style sounds the way it does.

EC16EARFULL_TROMBONE_1_WEBDo you think your sound would be different if you weren’t from New Orleans?
To be quite frank with you, I don’t know if I would be playing music if I weren’t from New Orleans. That’s how powerful it is. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t sound this way. There are some things that just happen in that city that we really can’t explain. We don’t know what it is that creates musicians and a style. It’s a special place and I’m happy I’m a part of it.

You’re very well-known for your horn-playing abilities, but you’re a strong vocalist as well. Talk about combining your instrumentation and your voice.
In New Orleans, when you’re a front person you have to sing. Some people lead the band, play the washboard and sing. Sometimes the tuba player sings. Of course I had to work at it — I was very shy. If I didn’t have my horn, I was so scared to even touch the mic. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even introduce the band. I had to work at it, I took it seriously and it took some time. I started studying and looking at different people. When I was in Lenny Kravitz’s band, he showed me some techniques. I wanted to get it to where my voice was an instrument. I wanted to be able to feel as comfortable as I am on my horn. I’m still working toward that goal.

You’re also very passionate about music education. (The Trombone Shorty Foundation mission is “to preserve and perpetuate the unique musical culture of New Orleans by passing down its traditions to future generations of musicians.”) How important is it for you to pass your love of music to future generations?
It’s very important. Its an unspoken tradition in New Orleans. Throughout my whole career — even today — people have passed things on to me. I remember as a kid having the luxury of being around some of the greet New Orleans musicians and riding by their side while they played things in my ear. People cared about me as a kid and wanted to see me do things. They saw that I was passionate about music. They gave me some free private lessons, picked me up at my house and took me to class. Now, I made it out of New Orleans and reached a lot of people. I have a lot of kids and people that look up to me. I didn’t want to wait until I was 50 or 60 to decide to help out the kids. I wanted to do it right now while they still think I’m semi-cool (laughs). I wanted to be able to give back and help. It’s a real passion of mine to be able to help and teach the kids. I was able to learn from different musicians and also, by me traveling, I’ve been exposed to a lot of different musicians, cultures and music that some of the people in my hometown might not ever get a chance to witness. I want to bring it to them and give them all the things I can. They can be the next generation to take the music somewhere else in the next 20 years. Little do they know, sometimes the youngsters do something that’s amazing to me and I’m trying to learn what they just did! They have a great imagination. We teach each other. We all learn from each other.

You’ve collaborated with so many great artists throughout your career (U2, Green Day, Lenny Kravitz, Cee-Lo, Zac Brown, Harry Connick, Jr.). Who are some artists you would love to work with in the future?
I would like to work with Stevie Wonder, Trent Reznor, Jay Z and Lil Wayne, Earth Wind and Fire. That’s what I can think of at this moment. The list can go on and on. I look at music like looking at different neighborhoods. I go into this neighborhood and I’m pretty sure I would pick up on some new lingo and some different swag. I’m just going into different musical neighborhoods and taking all of that in and it becomes a part of me.

What can fans expect to see at a Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue show?
First of all, don’t let the name “Trombone” scare you — it’s not going to be what you think. It’s going to be some hard, funk rock, high energy, straight through for two hours. It’s going to be a big dance party. We’re going to do everything we know how to do. Overall, they can expect to have a lot of fun. Coming from New Orleans, we were taught to try to bring joy to whatever the situation is. There’s going to be a lot of joy and fun. As long as we can make some noise on that stage, its going to be a big, big party — just like Mardi Gras.
— tom graham

Catch Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre, on Friday, Jan. 17, at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Kirby Center  online at kirbycenter.org or by phone at (570) 826-1100. Ticket prices are $29, $39 and $49 plus applicable fees.