Of all the auxiliary items on the Jazz Fest seasonal menu, Shorty Fest is the largest by a long shot, and the most appetizing to sponsors and deep-pocketed donors alike. The festival’s sixth annual iteration will fill two stages at House of Blues (225 Decatur St.) on Thursday, May 3 at 8 p.m., serving up a hearty slab of elite local talent stuffed between Jazz Fest’s two-weekend sandwich.
Despite pricey entrance–tickets, on sale now via House of Blues and Ticketmaster, start at $80–the event sells out every year without fail, so don’t sleep on reserving your spot. This year’s festival is presented by Acura, the Trombone Shorty Foundation’s biggest sponsor this year. Proceeds will go to the foundation, furthering its mission to pass down New Orleans’ musical tradition and inspire the next generation.
Created by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews in 2013, the nonprofit organization now partners with the Jazz and Heritage Festival to run its flagship program, the Trombone Shorty Academy, where local high school musicians learn the foundations of New Orleans music from its gatekeepers. (The faculty includes Edward Lee plus Erion Williams and Julian Gosin of The Soul Rebels, and Jenard Andrews, Shorty’s nephew and the leader of the recently reconfigured New Breed Brass Band.) They also learn about recording technology from two-time Grammy-winning engineer Chris Finney, and about the business behind their art from Bill Taylor, the foundation’s executive director.
The academy caps off each year of class by giving its students the opportunity to perform as a full brass band at Shorty Fest each year. “The sixth annual Shorty Fest is the place to celebrate leading acts, local superstars and the next generation of New Orleans musicians: the Trombone Shorty Academy students,” Shorty said. “We make music careers a reality, allowing kids to pursue their dreams with the help of incredible music education programs, mentors and performance.”
This year’s lineup is as impressive as ever. Headlined (of course) by internationally acclaimed “Supafunkrock” pioneers Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, the bill also includes Best of the Beat 2017 triple winners (Artist of the Year, Best R&B/Funk artist, Best Music Video) Tank and the Bangas and Best Brass Band winners The Soul Rebels. Water Seed, New Breed Brass Band, Darcy Malone & The Tangle, Khris Royal & Dark Matter and Big Chief Juan Pardo & The Golden Comanches fill out the undercard.
For more information on the foundation and the festival, go to TromboneShortyFoundation.org.