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New Orleans-born trombonist fronts an uncategorizable band

Steve Penhollow

Steve Penhollow

Whatzup Features Writer

Published June 20, 2019

Growing up in New Orleans and not becoming a musical person is a little like growing up on an island and never learning how to swim.

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews grew up in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans and started playing the instrument with which he would one day become closely associated at the age of 4.

His older brother made certain that his childhood was steeped in music.

Following his Brother’s footsteps

“All I knew is that you could catch a brass band at 5 in the morning, any day, any time of the week,” Andrews told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. “My brother took me around everywhere — clubs, venues, and concerts to see people who had an impact on the music. He took me under his wing. He wanted me to see all the great jazz musicians, and he took me all over the world.”

Andrews describes his brother as his “best friend” and as “a father figure.” He ended up touring Europe with his brother’s brass band when he was still a tyke.

After he graduated from high school, he got a call he didn’t quite believe. It was, supposedly, from Lenny Kravitz.

Andrews told On Tap Magazine that he thought it was a joke.

“But I went up to Miami and rehearsed with him,” he said. “I didn’t have no idea that I was auditioning. But Lenny left [the rehearsal studio], and 20 minutes later, he came back and told me I was in the band.”

Andrews said he learned a lot about the music business from Kravitz.

“Fortunately, I was able to…watch him every night in arenas and stadiums all over the world,” he said. “He taught me discipline with the arrangements, and just how to put together a show.”

The band that Andrews fronts today, which will pay a visit to Sweetwater Pavilion on June 28, is delightfully uncategorizable. It performs a breakneck mix of jazz, soul, hip-hop, punk, and funk.

He attributes that to his eclectic musical tastes and to his atypical upbringing.

“I listen to a lot of punk rock,” Andrews said. “Green Day, NOFX, Ministry, and stuff like that, and my energy is naturally high like that. I also used to play a lot of second line parades where we’re walking through the streets for four hours of music with no microphones, and people are bumping into each other. You might bust your lip or whatever, but it’s all about power. There is never a low point in that style of music. I think that energy has transferred to me onstage.”

It’s not about fame or money

Andrews insists that he has never had any interest in being a celebrity.

“We don’t want to be hot,” he told W Magazine. “We want to last, because eventually hot gets cooled down. We really practice music and work really hard. Sometimes we’ll leave at six in the morning, and we started at three the day before. Whatever fame or success we have right now came strictly from us playing. As long as we focus on music, and not trying to be stars, I think we’ll be OK.”

Audiences sense that he is doing a lot more than noodling away up there, Andrews said.

“(Onstage), I’m really spiritually connected to the music, and I think that transfers to the people and it comes back to me,” he said. “Then, that makes me go to another level.

“It’s not about fame and it’s not about money,” Andrews said. “That’s just how I play. That’s the only way I know how to play.”


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