Here comes Trombone Shorty!

By Kay Kipling November 1, 2010

Hot, hot, hot (just off opening for Jeff Beck in Europe, guest-starring as himself on HBO’s Treme and performing with his band for NFL Kickoff 2010 and Jimmy Kimmel Live), Troy Andrews, aka Trombone Shorty, drops in for the 20th annual Sarasota Blues Fest Nov. 6 at Ed Smith Stadium. Only 24, Andrews has already made a name for himself that’s bound to get bigger. We spoke with him during one of his brief visits home to New Orleans. (For tickets to the Blues Fest, call 377-3279 or visit

Q. You’ve been really busy! Is it great or overwhelming?

A. Well, I’ve been touring for most of my life. The difference is now it’s my band [Orleans Avenue]. It’s different when it’s your own project.

Q. You started playing very young.

A. My brothers and cousins all played. It was a natural thing. If I didn’t play, that would be strange. With my family, there were always instruments around. But when I taught my friends, at an early age, they didn’t have instruments, so we made drums out of boxes and things like that. I was always trying to make some kind of noise.

Q. You got your nickname because when you first started playing the trombone, it was bigger than you, right?

A. Yeah, from my brother James, who took me on tour with his brass band starting when I was seven. When I was 15 or 16 I decided to develop my own band. I taught myself to play the trumpet and the tuba, too, because no kids were playing the tuba and we needed one for the band.

Q. Do you play those instruments now?

A. With my band, I play the trombone, the trumpet and sing. On certain nights I might play the piano or the drums. When I went to NOCCA [New Orleans Center for Creative Arts], I had to learn everything to do with theory. That makes it easier to teach myself the other instruments.

Q. You call the music your band plays "supafunkrock."

A. The sound developed over years of a lot of influences. My drummer, he likes to listen to Nine Inch Nails and Garth Brooks. My bass player, he’s a hip-hop producer. My guitar player likes Green Day. We bring it all in to the table and put it in the gumbo pot. Sometimes when I bring in a song, we don’t change it; but sometimes it sounds good, but it doesn’t sound like us. So we add our own spice to it.

Q. Your schedule sounds so crazy. Do you do anything besides play music?

A. It is my life. When I’m not playing, I’m sleeping. I’m home now to get some clean clothes and hang out with my family.

Q. And for the future?

A. I just want to keep doing what I’m doing, grow as a musician and a human being, and have a good effect on people.

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