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Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews is a musician's musician. The prodigy started playing music at age 3 and got his big break at age 4 sharing the stage with Bo Diddley.
"It was so long ago I can't remember," said Andrews, now 24. "I remember my mom saying I was playing (trombone) and some people crowd-surfed me to the stage, and they put me on the stage, and that was it."
He earned his name because he could play a trombone before even being as tall as the horn.
Sunday night, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue will play their high-energy set at Harlow's. Opening will be The Nibblers, a seven-piece rock band led by local singer Hans Eberbach and Mumbo Gumbo members Lynn Michael Palmer, Jon Wood and Reggie Marks.
Andrews grew up listening to jazz and other sounds in the musical Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans, the same neighborhood that jazz forefather Louis Armstrong called home. Both his mother and his brother, trumpeter and bandleader James Andrews, inspired him to embrace music.
He attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, a high school that produced other talented artists like Harry Connick Jr., Nicholas Payton and Wynton and Branford Marsalis. After graduating, Andrews quickly received an invitation to tour in Lenny Kravitz's band at the age of 18, which allowed him to see the world and grow as a musician.
Around the same time, he began releasing albums with his brother, a quintet, and his current band, Orleans Avenue, a project that mixes funk, hip-hop and pop. In 2006, Andrews had the opportunity to perform with U2 and Green Day for the reopening of the New Orleans Superdome.
He also shared the stage at the New Orleans House of Blues with Wynton Marsalis, who said of Andrews, "Shorty possesses the rarest combination of talent, technical capability and down-home soul," adding, "I'm his biggest fan."
Though Andrews is known first and foremost as a virtuoso trumpet and trombone player, he recently started singing.
"My brother James is a singer, and my grandfather was an R&B singer," Andrews said. "I was listening to some of (my grandfather's) music, and it inspired me, and (so did) Lenny Kravitz. Everyone in New Orleans sings, (including, for example,) Louis Armstrong."
Voice, trumpet and trombone all represent part of his character, but Andrews said the two horns best convey who he is. As for his band's sound, he described it as "supafunkrock."
"Supafunkrock to me is just rock, hip-hop and funk from New Orleans," he said. "We just put it in a gumbo bowl, and that's what it is: high-energy funk-rock dance with elements of different things."
Andrews is not just steeped in the culture of New Orleans - it's his passion. His new album Backatown, which will be released April 20, is a personal record about growing up in New Orleans and reaching where he is today.
He explained that Backatown is New Orleans slang for "the next neighborhood over." So "backatown" for the Tremé would mean the Seventh Ward, the French Quarter or even Bayou St. John, he explained.
The album has a number of modern, gritty elements including hip-hop rhythms, according to Andrews. Guests on the album include Kravitz, Marc Broussard and Allen Toussaint, who plays piano on a cover of his own song, "On Your Way Down," the album's only non-original song.
"People in Sactown know how to get down," added Andrews, who played at Sacramento's now-closed Hard Rock Café in May. "The energy I get from the audience and fans, it makes my energy go higher than normal. It's a wonderful feeling to get that energy, and I give it back."
Tickets cost $17.50 in advance and $20 on day of the show. Tickets can be purchased online (here) and at R5 Records, located at 2500 16th St. Harlow's is located at 2708 J Street. The show begins at 8 p.m.
Photographs 1 and 2 credit Jane Richey.
Photograph 3 credit Kirk Edwards.