Troy Andrews, better known as Trombone Shorty, has a been New Orleans musical fixture for decades — and he will take the stage next week at the Two Ten charity gala.
Here, the popular musician talks early influences, on-stage style and being a band leader at age six.
His inspiration for picking up the trombone has a lot to do with his family’s love for jazz and their admiration for Louis Armstrong. “My brother James had me playing trombone by the time I was 4. My brother plays trumpet. He was a huge Louis Armstrong fan, and Louis always had a trombone player at his side. There was a shortage of trombone players in the family, so he really encouraged me on it. He took me out on the road by the time I was 11 or 12.”
His early exposure to music helped launch his career and gave him the opportunity to eventually lead his own band. “I was a band leader by age six. I’d get paid at the show and have to pay the members of my band a couple of hundred dollars each. They would be more than twice as old as I was. It was hard to talk bar owners into letting me play since they were serving alcohol. With my first band, we had to skip school to record our first album. When we started touring, it was hard to rent a car because only one or two guys were old enough to take a rental out.”
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Andrews takes pride in his on-stage performance and draws inspiration for his lively shows from his New Orleans heritage. “I grew up right in the Treme when it was a very musical neighborhood, and we had bands like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, The Rebirth Brass Band. As a kid, I’d try to copy how I saw those guys play.
He also studied legendary performers like James Brown and Michael Jackson to help him hone and master his on-stage moves. “I learned about playing and showmanship in New Orleans, but also on my first gig after high school, with Lenny Kravitz. And I’ve studied tape of James Brown and Michael Jackson so that my show is not just about me playing my horns.”
When performing, Andrews balances style and comfort. “Onstage, my shoes have to look good with my outfit and make an impression, and also have a slick leather sole so I can dance. I like John Varvatos boots — the soles are great and the hardware looks cool and they are never too heavy. Sometimes I will pick up a pair of Steve Maddens while I’m on tour to wear for a few shows.”