As we speak, you are currently in Europe, where you just performed with your father and brother at the Ascona Jazz Festival in Switzerland. How did you initially get involved with Ascona?
Playing Ascona was such a great experience. It’s so cool to have this tiny village in Switzerland completely taken over by New Orleans musicians for 10 days. Brass bands playing in the cobblestone streets, Louis Armstrong records spinning in gelato shops in the piazza. There’s music happening all day and night and everywhere you walk you hear music bouncing off the walls of cathedrals and the mountains that surround the town. It’s like someone scooped up a chunk of Frenchmen Street and dropped it in the middle of the Swiss Alps. You’re watching Kermit Ruffins play a show and then you look over and see Gerald French walk by on his way to a gig, and right down the road the New Breed Brass Band is parading in the street with a crowd of dancing Europeans chanting, “Don’t tell nobody.” And this was the 30th anniversary of the festival, so everyone was extra celebratory. It was really fun to be a part of it.
What’s the biggest difference in your opinion between touring by yourself (or with your band) and touring with family?
Touring with your family is such a beautiful thing, unless you don’t get along, I suppose. But fortunately, we all have a great relationship. Musically, everything feels effortless; we’re just up there having a good time, interacting with one another, making jokes and being silly, just as if we were at the dinner table. Every time we perform together, I have moments of pure awe, like, I can’t believe I’m related to these people.
New Orleans has a long tradition of musical families who pass the creative baton from one generation to the next. What do you think is the most important lesson you’ve learned from your parents about navigating life as a professional musician?
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from them is that, as a musician, an artist, you never stop learning. No matter what age, or how seasoned or talented or virtuosic you are, you are always a student, always growing, exploring and creating.
What do things look like for you once you get back to New Orleans at the end of the summer?
I have some really exciting things in the works that I can’t wait to share with the world. I’m co-leading a band with guitarist Cliff Hines, and we are releasing an album in the fall of all-original, genre-bending, art-rock music. The project is called Hildegard, which is actually the name of my German grandmother—I’m sure she’s chuckling from the heavens above—and we’ll be doing an East Coast tour in September to promote the record. We also collaborated with the Greenhouse Collective to film a really cool music video for our first single, so that should be out a little later this summer as well.
Where do you see your career heading over the next few years?
To me, a career is more about longevity and creativity rather than monetary success, fame and recognition. Though maybe I’ll be eating my words!