"Trombone Shorty" carries on New Orleans jazz tradition

Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:37am EDT
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By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Musician Troy Andrews, better known as "Trombone Shorty," witnessed his first New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at age 12 - not from the viewing area but on stage.

"I was playing with my brother's brass band," said Andrews, now 27.

At this year's New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Andrews will be given a high honor. He will perform for the first time as the closing act of the final day on the biggest stage. That time slot previously had long been occupied by one of New Orleans' most famous bands, the Neville Brothers.

The festival, which began Friday and ends May 5, has music lovers filling the walkways linking 12 stages arranged across 150 acres of the festival grounds, not far from downtown.

During the next two weekends, some 500 bands will perform at the festival, including a sprinkling of big names from Billy Joel, Dave Matthews and Adam Levine to Jill Scott, George Benson and Willie Nelson.

The stars will help draw some 400,000 people through the gates over the seven days of the festival, but many fans are interested in less famous local performers such as Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Rebirth Brass Band, Irvin Mayfield, Anders Osborne and Tab Benoit, among the 400-plus bands in the lineup that hail from New Orleans and the surrounding area.

"I can't believe the mix of music here," said Keith Oliver, who came to the festival from Richmond, Virginia.

"I don't know where else you could hear great blues, jazz, gospel and all the rest all in one place," Oliver said as he and his wife merged into the sea of flowered shirts and sun hats heading for the next stage.   Continued...

A Mardi Gras Indian parades during the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana April 26, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman