Musical Artist Trombone Shorty

Troy Trombone Shorty" Andrews in his hometown of New Orleans. Photos courtesy of the Trombone Shorty Foundation by Mathieu Bitton for Blue Note Records

Musical Artist Trombone Shorty

Wednesday May 3, 2017

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is one the most innovative and electrifying artists to come out of New Orleans (and a favorite in our design studio). His self-described “SupaFunkRock” sound blends the horn-heavy “second line” influences of his youth with jazz, gospel, R&B, modern rock and hip-hop, creating a unique flavor that could only come from the city that raised him. Troy was four-years-old when someone put a horn in his hands, an instrument twice his size, but he proudly marched through his culturally-rich neighborhood of Treme, horn in hand, earning him the nickname “Trombone Shorty.”

The boy wonder became a bandleader at age eight and a traveling musician at age 10. Troy was constantly surrounded by veteran musicians who taught him the fundamentals of playing and the storied musical history of his hometown. As the benefactor of such knowledge, he wanted to pay it forward to younger generations, so he established the Trombone Shorty Foundation, which provides music education, instruction, mentorship and performance to young, underserved musicians. “The music has to stay alive, because it's the heartbeat of the city,” Troy says. Shorty Fest is an annual benefit concert created to raise awareness and funding for the foundation.

The fifth annual Shorty Fest will take place at the House of Blues on Thursday, May 4, with a killer lineup of talented jazz, blues, funk, rock and soul artists. In collaboration with this year’s concert, Billy designed two limited-edition shirts, which are available for purchase online and in our New Orleans store. Proceeds from the sale of these shirts will go directly to the Trombone Shorty Foundation. Additionally, we are hosting an event in our New Orleans shop this evening, Wednesday, May 3 from 6 PM to 8 PM to celebrate the collaboration and welcome a performance by students from the Trombone Shorty Academy.

The limited edition of 50 Trombone Shorty T-shirts are $68.

The limited edition of 10 Trombone Shorty woven shirts are $225.

Troy and his band, Orleans Avenue, play venues across the globe, frequently at large festivals like the New Orleans Jazz Fest, where they will perform during the coveted close-of-festival spot on Sunday evening, May 7. Last week, Troy released his debut recording with Blue Note Records, titled Parking Lot Symphony. This is his seventh studio album overall.

In anticipation of this week’s events, Troy talked with The Journal via email about his growing up with New Orleans music, the foundation, his new album, and what’s on his tour rider. 
Trombone Shorty on Billy Reid Journal

What were some of the most valuable lessons you learned about being a musician when you were a kid?

The most valuable thing was learning about the Treme, and the musical history we have here. But along with respect for that history, I learned that music should be pushed forward, too.

Who taught you those lessons?

My brother James, and the Rebirth Brass Band, they kind of raised us, musically. Them, Tuba Fats, they took an interest in me and taught me a bunch. As kids we wanted to imitate what they were doing. Back then I would wake up and there’d be a jazz funeral while I’m walking to school. And when I came home you’d maybe hear Rebirth playing for a birthday party, the same day. And from listening to Louis Armstrong, or Professor Longhair, or The Meters, I could hear how they went beyond the traditions they came up in.

How did the Trombone Shorty Foundation get started?

Before the storm, I had those mentors to look up to and follow, but it doesn't exist like that the same way, neighborhood-wise, anymore. So I just wanted to reach out to some of the kids while I'm still relatively young and they still think I'm hip enough to where I can do some cool things with them. The music has to stay alive, because it's the heartbeat of the city.

As a musician known for incorporating a range of musical styles into your self-described “SupaFunkRock” sound, what’s influencing you most these days? What are you listening to?

Right now, me and the band have been rehearsing, incorporating new material in the show, that I haven’t had time to listen to much music for fun. We had to learn songs for my annual show with special guests at the Saenger Theatre here. So I was listening to Usher, and Andra Day and the new Preservation Hall album.

For longtime Trombone Shorty fans, what can we expect from the upcoming album, Parking Lot Symphony?

Well, we really tried to focus on the vibe aspect, the energy aspect, of our live shows, and we tried to capture that in our recording this time. So the sound and energy of that experience is what listeners can expect.

You’ve been known to say, “There’s nothing off limits for horn players.” What makes a horn so versatile?

In New Orleans, brass is the number one thing. You can find people playing horns on the street. You find more horn players than guitar players, probably the only place where you’ll see that happening: brass musicians as the ones leading the pack. So from that foundation, I’m always reaching for the thing that people don’t expect from a horn player.

We hear you’ve banned New Orleans food from your tour rider. What is on your rider?

We’ve been fortunate to be able to play in all 50 states. Early on, the promoters had gumbo or red beans and rice, trying to make us feel at home, which was very cool of them. But of course to us the food just wasn’t the same. So we started to ask for the food from where we’re playing. So we get lobster in Maine or grilled bison in Montana and BBQ in Kansas City and that kind of thing.

Where’s your favorite spot for New Orleans food?

The city has as much to offer for food as it does music, so I can’t pick just one. I’ll take folks to Dooky Chase’s, or to a John Besh restaurant, or Willie Mae’s.
Billy Reid Trombone Shorty design shirtsTrombone Shorty Billy Reid T-shirt