In the three days just before hitting the Orpheum Theatre in Boston last Thursday, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews was busy. His band’s new album, For True was released 9/13, he kicked off the night prior with a release party at the venerable Tipitina’s in his hometown New Orleans, and then followed the next night by a industry type showcase set at The Box in New York, later to be followed with a Late Night With Jimmy Fallon appearance with The Roots.
The next night the band was in Boston, opening the first of two nights for Widespread Panic. At their 7 PM set time on the first night, the 2,800 seat hall was virtually empty with inside security outnumbering patrons. However, no stranger to winning over a crowd (or lack thereof), Orleans Avenue hit the stage hard on time with the high energy “Buckjump” from the new album, not letting the empty seats deter the groove. Joey Peebles’ rock-steady drumming set the tone for the rest of the band; tenor and baritone sax, bass, percussion, and guitar behind Shorty’s trombone and trumpet.
The set was limited to eight songs over 45 minutes, leaving breathing room for the headliners. These Orleans Avenue musicians offer the tightest funk grooves this side of Maceo Parker from years of constant playing and practice. They managed to put a full set of energy into their 45 minutes, offering three songs each from their two albums, along with covers of the Dirty Dozen’s “Blackbird Special” and a James Brown Medley. Highlights were the Allen Toussaint cover from the first album, “On Your Way Down” and a show stopping demonstration of circular breathing trumpet by Shorty on “Hurricane Season” that went on seemingly for five minutes without pausing to draw a breath.
Oh yes, the missing Panic fans. By the end of the first song, the music had reached beyond the lobby and the seats began to quickly fill. By the end of the set they were empty again, this time from the Spread Heads standing on their feet dancing and enthusiastically applauding the talented opener.