Q&A: Trombone Shorty
The spirit is everything. We celebrate in New Orleans. At funerals, everyone is going to cry because of course we lost someone, but after we get through whatever it may be everyone starts dancing and doing whatever to celebrate the person's life. That is a part of my music. I played a bunch of those funerals ... and you can see it lift people up. My music is feel-good, and it's a direct product of the culture and the way we live.
What did it mean to you to perform your grandfather Jessie Hill's song “Ooh Poo Pah Doo” on an episode of “Treme”?
It was great. My brother, he spent a lot of time with my grandfather, and he keeps that song alive, so it felt great to be able to play that song with my brother standing alongside me. I was honored they allowed us to play it.
You grew up in the heart of the Treme. How has the neighborhood bounced back in the years since Hurricane Katrina? Has it recaptured some of the magic you remember from your childhood?
We got a little percentage of it left, but it's not what it was. My neighborhood didn't really get damaged by the storm [because] that part of the city is higher up. But the people that made the neighborhood what it was, they're not there. We hanging on. We have a little Treme Brass Band and we have one or two bars where we try to keep the music going. But when I was growing up I'd walk to school and I'd see a funeral going on and I'd come home at the end of the day and there was another celebration going on for someone's birthday party. Now it's different because you have people who may have moved into the Treme and may have heard of the Treme, but they have no idea what it's really about.
Dr. Dre recently attended one of your shows. How tempted were you to call out from the stage to ask if there was a doctor in the house?
[Laughs] I didn't want to put him on spot like that. I grew up listening to Dr. Dre, and for him to actually be there? I couldn't believe it. I got to talk to him for a while before the show, and it was a real dream come true.
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, 8 p.m. Nov. 8-9 at Vic Theatre. $26.