‘Trombone Shorty’ / ‘The 5 O’Clock Band’ by Troy Andrews (Bookmark)

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews’ love of music, New Orleans and the Treme neighborhood where he was nurtured, plus his sweet nature, sing out in these two books. The vibrant and brilliantly colorful illustrations by award-winning Bryan Collier bring Shorty’s words to life as he tells the story of his childhood as an aspiring musician.

He introduces himself in the autobiographical first book, though he points out early on that “his story is about music.” He soon emphasizes that point by saying, “But before you can understand how much music means to me, you have to know how important it is to my hometown, my greatest inspiration.”

Written in a storytelling, conversational, child-friendly style, Trombone Shorty warmly reads a bit like “Once upon a time…” that often prompts questions from youngsters and offers the opportunity to open up a dialogue between parents and their kids. Perhaps the adult might ask, “What inspires you?”

trombone shortyshorty2 In the “Author’s Note” section at the back of The Five O’Clock Band, Andrews writes, “Growing up in the Treme, I was encouraged to seek guidance from all of the musicians who lived there. So I did.” As portrayed in the book, he also credits many of the elders in the neighborhood who shouted out with a hearty, supportive “Where y’at Shorty?”

It’s obvious from his many accomplishments, warm demeanor and the establishment of his youth-oriented Trombone Shorty Foundation that Andrews took to heart the lessons he speaks of in both of these books. They stand as a lullaby to dreamland for youngsters who have fantasies and big ideas of their own. As a very young Trombone Shorty said to the towering figure of the great Bo Diddley when the guitarist asked him, “What do you want to play?” “Follow me” was his reply.