The folks booking the shows at Red Butte Garden sure know how to end their season with a bang, rather than a whimper.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, playing the mountainside venue for the third straight summer, and first time as a headliner, delivered a high-energy dose of what bandleader Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews calls “supafunkrock,” a tasty blend of soul, funk, R&B and jazz that can only come from the multi-culti musical polyglot that IS the Big Easy.
The crowd got on its collective feet early in the set, and stayed there while Andrews led his band through originals and classic covers, the band leader bouncing between lead vocals, trumpet and, yes, trombone, while his stellar crew of musicians offered incredibly tight support. Those members of Orleans Avenue–bassist Mike Ballard, guitarist Pete Murano, drummer Joey Peebles and sax players Dan Oestreicher and Tim McFatter–are vital to the sound Andrews has forged on albums like 2010′s Backatown and the new For True.
Make no mistake, though–Andrews is the man, and at Sunday’s show he offered further proof that he is an artist to be reckoned with. Not only is he a more-than-capable multi-instrumentalist, skilled on several tools besides that famous trombone; he is a top-notch singer who was able to hit some soaring high nights as easily as some sexy deep growls over the course of the night.
At one point, he channeled Ray Charles for a version of “I Got a Woman,” followed up by James Brown via “Sex Machine,” and he worked the crowd like an old pro–despite only being 25 years old. Here’s hoping Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue make Red Butte Garden a regular stop on their summer tours from here on out.
Dan Nailen has written about music, arts and culture in and around Salt Lake City for Salt Lake magazine, The Salt Lake Tribune and Salt Lake City Weekly since 1998. He's currently a contributor to saltlakemagazine.com, and you can find more of his work at SLCene.com.