Trombone Shorty Brings New Orleans to UConn | Connecticut Public Radio
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Trombone Shorty Brings New Orleans to UConn

Feb 2, 2016

"New Orleans is everything that I am."
Troy Andrews

Troy Andrews has been playing the trombone since he was a boy, which is how he got the nickname he still uses: Trombone Shorty. This week, the New Orleans native is coming to UConn to perform.

Andrews will be playing at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts in Storrs on Thursday for what is billed as a Mardi Gras Dance Party. Then, by the weekend, he's back to his hometown for a show during the heart of carnival season.

In an interview on WNPR's Where We Live, Andrews said the city is a big part of his music and his success. Below are a few excerpts.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

Explaining Mardi Gras to the Uninitiated

You know, it’s very, very hard to explain it but if you could imagine a party with no rules, you’re having fun, the biggest party in the world, a lot of music, a lot of great people just walking down the streets listening to brazz bands and just dancing until the next morning, a lot of great food -- it’s really hard to explain but it’s just a wonderful thing that people should come down and experience. We’re going to try to bring a bit of that when we hit the stage.

On How People Experience Mardi Gras

There’s different sides of Mari Gras. When people think and they ask you the question of “would you bring your kid there?” I think that’s coming from the more commercial aspect from looking at it on TV and Bourbon Street and all that Bourbon Street and the French Quarter has to offer. But at the same time, the way I grew up in the Treme, it was almost like a family reunion -- people would get together, we’d cook and eat crawfish, and party and watch the Mardi Gras Indians go -- go around the neighborhood. Also the parades and different things are really exciting for the kids to catch teddy bears and coconuts and different things.

So, it depends on what side of Mardi Gras you’re looking at but it works for everyone. You got people that’s just coming in as tourists that want to party all night -- we have that. But we also have people that want to bring the kids just for the atmosphere, to watch the marching band, and the dancers and everyone. I mean, Mardi Gras covers the bases of what a party could be for every human being.

On the Influence of New Orleans

New Orleans is everything that I am. Without the city and without the things that I’ve been able to experience from growing up in the Treme and just being in New Orleans, I don’ think that I would sound the way that I sound, I don’t think I would have the background musically that I have, and just growing up in a city where music is a part of everyday life, it really has a tremendous effect on who I am today.

As far as the pressure goes, maybe I feel a little pressure from some of the older musicians when they tell me, you know, “it’s in your hands” or “we’re counting on you” or “keep alive” or things like that, that can be a little nerve wracking coming from people like the Neville Brothers and Dr. John, and people like that because I look up so much to those guys that help create a platform and a foundation for me to build my career off of. They left a lot of great information in tunes for me to become who I am.

But other than that, just being from New Orleans and having the city show me the same love that I’ve given them and they raised me here. I don’t mind the pressure. I feel great to be one of the people who help represent what this great city has been doing for a lot of years now.

On How His Music Has Been Influenced By Other Styles

Well, with my music, as you said, it’s not the typical New Orleans thing. It’s something that I grew up playing in the brass bands in the street and all those types of things. So I definitely have that ‘in’ there coming through my horn. But the foundation behind me was very influenced by different things and in New Orleans we have all types of sub-genres of music -- New Orleans R&B, New Orleans rock 'n roll, New Orleans funk, New Orleans whatever-it-may-be.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be influenced and play with some of the great musicians that is really great at that particular genre of New Orleans type of music. So I just try to put everything and I just try to be a sponge and a student of everything that I’ve been placed to be a part of. So the music that we have is going to be like a musical gumbo. We’re very influenced by all types of music and a lot of funk rock in our music with the horns leading. But I think the common ground here is just a big party and a big dance and a situation to where everybody is going to have a great time.

On His Bandmates and Their History Playing Together

My drummer Joey Peever, he’s been playing with me since he was 14. And my bass player, we’ve been playing together since we were maybe ten or 12 years old. A couple of other musicians in the band, we’ve been playing together for over ten years, or something like that. But the drummer and the bass player, we literally grew up as friends and created this sound together and I allowed them to bring their strong -- whatever they’re strong at -- because all of us listen to different types of music.

My drummer, he likes to listen to Sting, and Nine Inch Nails. My bass player listens to a lot of hip-hop stuff and so like I was telling you, everybody is strong at a particular kind of genre of music and when we get together, we just find a way to feed off of each other. They’ve been with me for a very, very long time. I’m very blessed to be able to have the same band and the same foundation so we could continue to create this music.

Trombone Shorty.
Credit Trombone Shorty

On Playing the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

It’s different for me. I grew up playing the jazz fest since I was maybe about five-years-old and I only missed one that I can think of. But to be able to play the stage and close that festival, I’ve sat in with the Neville Brothers who held that spot for probably as long as I’ve been alive.

To be able to play that, and close it out, and end on a high note in New Orleans and play some New Orleans music at the New Orleans Jazz Festival it’s a really, really... It’s like a Super Bowl to us -- me and my band. No matter where we are, when we get to the Jazz Festival, even though it’s in the early part of the year, that’s like a big accomplishment for us and we are very honored and blessed that the Jazz fest  thought of us to be able to handle that and be able to close it out. It’s incredible.

Some of the biggest bands -- probably one of the only places it would happen is New Orleans -- where we get some of the biggest bands in the world to play before us, you know. Lenny Kravitz played before us, and some other people. It’s been just remarkable to be able to have that spot, and play, and keep the tradition of having a New Orleans act close it out.

On the Trombone Shorty Foundation

The Trombone Shorty Foundation is basically this academy that I’m in partnership with Tulane University. I just wanted to be able to give the kids a foundation from the music business aspect out of it and also to give them some foundation fundamentally to where they can get something together.

Because we have a lot of great, young musicians that play on the street but they might not necessarily have the right tools to move their career as far as it goes being an all-around musician. So I wanted to just give those kids that opportunity to learn theoretically some fundamental things that can help take their career to the next level as they continue to grow. And also, to just give them a foundation to be able to understand the music business side of it -- even though we can’t teach them everything at this particular point. At least they know that that side exists and some of them -- like I was telling them --  before you get to a level where you can have a manager, you may have to manage yourself.

Listen here to the full interview on Where We Live.