In the front row for Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue |

In the front row for Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue

Charlie Owen
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

Sure, it took a James Brown cover to get all those old white people out of their chairs and dancing, but it was the raw energy and talent of Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue that kept them groovin’ for nearly three straight hours in Lionshead on Thursday night.

It didn’t matter that dancing sent pools of rainwater spraying into the air, dampening the pant legs and shoes of many in the crowd, or that there was a slight chill in the air. The only thing that mattered Thursday night in Arrabelle Square was the music. To say that Trombone Shorty is an expert at working the crowd wouldn’t begin to explain his show. At the age of 22, with most of his bandmates not yet of drinking age, Shorty is a brass-instrument magician, switching off between playing the trombone and trumpet when a song called for it.

The show was part of the Vail Jazz Founda°©tion’s Jazz in Vail Square series, which runs throughout the summer, and while Shorty’s sound may not be pure jazz ” it’s more of a rock-funk-jazz mix ” he undeniably repre°©sents the next generation of New Orleans music.

Not afraid to cross genres, Shorty wasn’t afraid to cross generations either. Whether playing a cover of Green Day’s “Brain Stew,” AC/DC’s “Back in Black” or Louis Arm°©strong’s “What a Wonderful World,” he brought kids, parents and grandparents together through music. Not to say that his original material didn’t keep the party mov°©ing; at one point he had the entire crowd jumping up and down, hands in the air, a surreal sight given the varying ages of all those involved in the revelry.

By the end of the night, many had drifted away, but those who stayed witnessed some of the best moments of the show, most notably Shorty’s trumpet solos and an unbelievable dual drumming performance with the band’s drummer Joey Peebles and Shorty himself banging on the skins.

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue have the potential to rise to the top of tour°©ing bands in America. They brought a show to Vail that exceeded most other well-estab°©lished acts I’ve seen in concert, not just in their musical capabilities but the level of intensity with which they performed. Don’t miss them the next time they come to town; one day you’ll be able to look back and say “I saw them when … “

High Life Writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or

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