As Nine Inch Nails wrapped up an epic set across town at Voodoo Fest, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews packed Tipitina’s for a sold-out NOLA dance party. Andrews has spent the past few years touring the world as the New Orleans musician, serving as the musical ambassador this city deserves. His hometown gigs are now few and far between, but this show at Tip’s reminded everyone why the cultural legacy of New Orleans has been laid upon his shoulders to show off to the world.
From the moment they took the stage, Andrews and his band had the capacity crowd in the palm of their hand. These guys are party-starting pros and wasted no time getting the bodies moving. Trombone Shorty’s irresistible charm comes from both his incredible chops on his instrument and his soulful voice, which easily carries every song. Andrews is also a top-notch bandleader, calling transitions and directing the rest of the band like he’s been doing this for years (he has). But the leader is only as good as the band, and Orleans Avenue proved themselves more than capable of backing a talent like Andrews as they plowed through some of the funkiest party jams I’ve ever heard.
Their excellent new album, Say That to Say This, came out back in September, and the set drew from the band’s entire catalog as well as classic New Orleans standards. They kept the energy high for most of the set, save for a soulful rendition of The Meters’ “Be my Lady” that kept the groove going in a much more restrained way. For one song, local rapper Dee-1 came out to drop some impressive rhymes that fit in naturally with the rest of the band’s sound.
Andrews invited The New Breed Brass Band onstage during the encore, before marching off the stage to finish the show right in the middle of the packed crowd. Cell phones filled the air with people trying to frantically snap pictures as the band played on unplugged in true New Orleans style. When the club emptied out onto the corner of Napoleon and Tchoup, the excitement and buzz in the air was palpable. After one of the best shows in recent memory, the 1,000 kindred spirits on the street left confident that the New Orleans’ tradition is safe in Trombone Shorty’s hands.