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Trombone Shorty's love affair with New Orleans

July 31, 2012|By Chris Barton
  • Trombone Shorty has been touring with the Neville Brothers and has a new album with appearances by Jeff Beck and Kid Rock, among others.
Trombone Shorty has been touring with the Neville Brothers and has a new… (Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The…)

At age 26, bandleader Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is the heir to a legacy of Crescent City musical royalty that includes Dr. John, the Marsalis family and the Neville Brothers. With a hip-shaking sound that mixes New Orleans jazz with funk, hip-hop rhythms and rock guitar, Andrews earned a Grammy nomination for his 2010 album “Backatown,” which was the same year he earned notice playing himself on HBO’s “Treme.” His latest album features guest turns from Jeff Beck, Kid Rock and the Rebirth Brass Band, and Wednesday he performs at the Hollywood Bowl as part of the Neville Brothers’ farewell tour. Speaking by phone between tours, Andrews talks about his beloved hometown and hints at some next moves.

What’s the first thing you do when you come home after one of these long stretches on the road?

First thing I do, no matter what time it is, I run to my grandmother’s house and try and get some New Orleans food that I’ve been missing. She always makes sure that she knows that I’m coming to town, and she always gets me some good food.

What was the experience like working on HBO’s “Treme”?

It’s been really cool. . . [it’s] one of the most exciting shows we’ve ever had to portray New Orleans culture. At first, [the work] seems very long and then when you look at it, it’s maybe not even two minutes on the screen, but we took six hours to film it. But it’s cool; I’m used to that. It just reaffimed some discipline I need when I go to practice. You know -- patience.

You grew up playing New Orleans jazz, but somewhere along the way you started incorporating other sounds such as hip-hop and rock into your music. How did that start?

When as a kid I was placed in different genres of music not really knowing that there was a difference. At 10 and 9 years old, I was at Cyril Neville’s house listening to him play, and then my brother [trumpter James Andrews] would put me in situation where we were able to play onstage with Dr. John . . . and as a kid I just thought music was music. So when I made my music, I was just taking my experience of being in different genres without even knowing it.

It sounds like your record is as much a portrait of New Orleans as it is you.

Definitely. You can go down Frenchman Street and there’s maybe 10 or 12 clubs right next to each other where you can go in and hear Ellis Marsalis to going down the street and hearing the rock band Cowboy Mouth and walking across the street to hear a traditional band playing music from the 1920s and '30s -- all just one minute apart. In New Orleans, we have no borders, no genres, everybody plays together.

What’s the one thing people get wrong about New Orleans music if they’ve never been there before?

Well, one thing they would get wrong is some people come to sit down and listen to music from New Orleans. But that’s not going to happen. If people are thinking that this is sit-down music -- even if you’re going to listen to some of the traditional jazz bands -- they’re playing in places with no seats and people are dancing. One thing I realized is New Orleans has a fan base itself, and people come to New Orleans and allow the music to take them wherever it’s going to take them, and they just start dancing and parading around the streets with us. And they don’t know what they’re doing, but they know something in this music is connecting with their soul. It’s something I’ve never experienced before, and I’ve traveled all over the world. It’s really like a country inside of a country.

You’ve collaborated with an impressive roster of musicians in your career -- is there anyone on your wish list right now?

Yeah, I’m a big fan of Nine Inch Nails. I’d like to work with Trent Reznor. And I listen to Ministry, you know that band? And of course there’s Stevie Wonder and Jay-Z, I’d like to work with those people.

I love the spectrum in going from Jay-Z and Stevie to Ministry.

Yeah, if you listen to my music you can hear some of that metal, hard rock influence on some of the instrumentals we do. I’ve played with country bands. The only thing I haven’t really done is gotten up with a metal band onstage -- yet. I’m ready.

The Neville Brothers Farewell Tour with Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, The Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave. Wed. 8 p.m. $1-$134 www.hollywoodbowl.com.

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