After spending the afternoon of January 25th, 2015 in New Orleans’ expansive City Park catching a free Trombone Shorty concert I tromped the pavement in the French Quarter until I was hungry enough to eat some tasty, tasty Cajun food and then I tromped the pavement a little more. When my dogs got too beat I booted it back to my hotel to rest up, but as night fell I had caught a second wind and found myself hankering for more live music.
Of course in NOLA you can’t not find live music, and on this night I didn’t not find live music just a few blocks outside of the Quarter at a happenin’ little place called The Howlin’ Wolf. Walking in to the ‘Wolf one is met with a proper bar overtaking a small, narrow room lined with tables. At the back of the bar is a door that leads to a dingy square performance space that is completely empty aside from a short stage on the back end of the room.
Armed with a couple of drinks from the bar I picked a spot in the half-empty back room and a minute later the Hot 8 Brass Band stepped up on the little stage and just started blasting. I’ve noticed that in New Orleans it’s common for bands to pick a name that is like a mini-bio. Trombone Shorty, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band…you get the idea.
With that metric in mind it should come as no surprise that the Hot 8 Brass Band consists of eight trombone, trumpet, and sousaphone players and they are hot. Especially if by “hot” you mean “loud”. So much music in NOLA is loud, I suppose because so many players gain a lot of their experience by playing out on the street where they have to compete with the din of a bustling city, not to mention a slew of other loud, honking buskers. Plus there’s just something about the trombone; they just want to play loud.
And so I bobbed and weaved and wowed at solo after solo until my ears (or was it my feet?) just couldn’t take any more, and with a to-go drink in my hand (you just have to love New Orleans) I strolled the few blocks back to my hotel and called it a (heck of a) day.