Many a music fan has heard the saying “Never miss a Sunday show.” This definitely rings true for me, as Sunday shows always seem to be special. On the one hand, it’s the end of the week, so you’ve finally made it and are relaxed. At the same time, there’s also the looming pressure of knowing Monday is just around the corner. Makes it difficult to get yourself out of the house sometimes. Still, these conflicting feelings always seem to give way to something unique and unforeseen. This Sunday’s Trombone Shorty show fit these parameters to a tee. Couple that with having a venue that’s an old church, as well as numerous players who grew up honing their chops in the church, Sunday service was in full swing.
After more than a year away, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue returned to the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. As we entered the building, there were already sweet tunes floating through the lobby. Armed with a vintage record player and a stack of 45” records, Tin Miller of Flying Saucer Presents, treated the crowd to old, (and sometimes) obscure soul and gospel hits that set the tone for what was in store for us. Miller has long been a staple in the Jacksonville music scene, by both offering musical support and ensuring some of the latest and greatest musicians make their way to the First Coast.
Troy Andrews, better known as Trombone Shorty, first got his musical start in New Orleans at the tender age of 4. His deeply ingrained New Orleans roots have shone throughout his career, allowing him to perform with many of the industry’s top talent. Between his stories and song introductions, it was obvious how much the New Orleans culture means to him and how happy he was to share it with us.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue started right out of the gate with a heavy-hitting instrumental that gave everyone in the band an opportunity to shine. When you get chills from the very first song, you know you’re in for a really great night of music. The energy didn’t let up for a second, with the band blending straight from one song to the next most of the night.
While Shorty is currently on tour to promote his newest album, Parking Lot Symphony, he didn’t limit his song choices to just that. He treated us to fan favorites, such as “Craziest Things” and “On Your Way Down,” and flawlessly incorporated well-known horn-based hooks into several of his originals. From New Orleans rappers Juvenile and C-Murder, to funk favorites Incredible Bongo Band, he kept the New Orleans and funk theme going throughout the night.
Highlights of the evening were “One Night Only,” where bassist Mike Bass-Bailey led the song with a show-stopping solo. When I looked around the room, I realized we were in full-on dance party mode, both onstage and off. They also performed a James Brown medley that included “Get On Up,” “Sex Machine,” and “I Feel Good” in between some of Shorty’s originals. This tribute really showcased the horns talent onstage.
Throughout the show, Andrews switched between instruments, proving just how deep his talent runs. From lead vocals, to the trumpet, tambourine, and trombone (and, I would be remiss to fail to mention his smooth dance moves) he flawlessly moved from one to the other. One of the most impressive moments was near the end of “Do To Me,” where he played the trumpet without stopping to breath for what felt like an eternity. As the crowd burst out in cheers, it was obvious the difficulty of this feat was not lost on the crowd.
As any good showman and bandleader understands, they’re often only as good as those supporting them onstage. Shorty definitely understood this and frequently celebrated the showcase moments of his band members. And the band never disappointed, as they saw these opportunities as their chances to communicate their musical prowess and love directly to the crowd. The spotlight was definitely shared throughout the night.
As I mentioned earlier, the crowd was primed for the night and were involved from the onset. The diversity of the crowd also became a testament to the power of music, as people of all ages and walks of life were dancing, singing, and smiling, side by side, loving the NOLA dance party. Shorty and the boys were amazing and will be on my list to see, whenever possible. Never miss a Sunday show for the win, again!