Trombone Shorty Scorches With Three Sold Out Nights at Belly Up

If my memory serves, The Belly Up does not often do multi-night gigs. But when they do, it is memorable. On the first night of a sellout three night run, Trombone Shorty treated the sweaty house to a full night of funk.

Two drummers and a 5 string bass ensured plenty of backbeat. Two horns supplemented Shorty’s work on his eponymous trombone and the occasional trumpet. But for at least half the show he eschewed the brass and led the band with vocals. The dueling guitarists traded licks, while the pair of lady vocalists harmonized when Shorty swung into the verses.

Clearly using NOLA textures as a jumping off point, the band pivots firmly into a deep funk groove patented early by James Brown, Funkadelic and Bootsy, with more than a nod to Fela Kuti’s elongated compositions.

As the only instrument that changes shape (but for the accordion), the trombone is a fascinating instrument. Shorty takes the instrument to a new level, using it to not only lay down the backbone of the song but to lead melodic structure as well. 

Shorty allowed each player a turn in the spotlight, and the solos were well-received. A couple instrumentals allowed a glimpse into a cutting session, as the three horn players traded riffs and then modulated the rhythm from furious to funereal.


It is a true feat to balance a tight band with a loose funkiness, but Shorty has found that edge.

The New Breed Brass Band opened, leveraging a slightly more traditional (but no less engaging) version of Ninth Ward front line funk. If you can get tickets, get down on it.

photos by Brad Auerbach

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.