Trombone Shorty nearly blew the roof off Turner Hall23
Three years ago, I found myself at the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard stage on the Henry Maier Festival Grounds. It was the opening night of Summerfest. I was exhausted from a workday’s worth of live music, but Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue hit the stage like a cool, powerful breeze off the lake.
The Louisiana-based band put on a bombastic display of horn-driven musical mayhem. Their funk-rock originals, covers and interpolations played perfectly to the rowdy late-night crowd. To this day, it remains one of my favorite Summerfest sets.
Shorty’s opening act was DJ Bizzon, who will warm up the crowd for the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff July 5 on the Johnson Controls World Stage.
When I saw that Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue were coming to Turner Hall Ballroom on June 13, I wondered how its sound would translate to the indoors. After all, Shorty and his crew were raised in the New Orleans open-air, marchingband tradition.
The weather was immaculate the day Shorty returned to Milwaukee. There were plenty of outdoor musical offerings that evening, including the nearby Newaukee Night Market, which made parking downtown a challenge.
As a result, I didn’t expect a big turnout at Turner Hall. But by the time Shorty and company took the stage, the ballroom was nearly full.
The audience age range ran the gamut. The vibe was reminiscent of Summerfest. The sun was still shining in when opener DJ Bizzon asked if there were any James Brown fans in the house.
Anticipation was reaching a fever pitch when drummer Joey Peebles walked out, then bassist Mike Bass-Bailey, whose guitar was outlined with lights. Shorty emerged like a gladiator, raising his trombone and trumpet triumphantly before playing a note. The crowd showered the band with love and the energy never let up.
Born Troy Andrews, Shorty has been blowing a horn since he was a shorty — his Wikipedia page shows a photo of him playing the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at age 6. When you start that young, you’re sometimes bound for greatness. The Turner Hall performance demonstrated the well-honed skills of Shorty and his band, showing why Shorty is one of the few musicians to have his own Sesame Street Muppet.
It felt as if Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue would blow the roof off Turner Hall.
Hearing Shorty again made me long for the sun-drenched, sonic frenzy of Summerfest.
While Shorty may not be returning to the Big Gig, his opener DJ Bizzon is.
Tyrone “DJ Bizzon” Miller is a Milwaukee native and graduate of the Milwaukee School of Engineering. He is the former co-host of 91.7 WMSE’s “Those Hip-Hop Guys” and currently a DJ at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee. He is also a youth mentor who
If hearing a big band at Turner Hall Ballroom sounds like fun, Rebirth Brass Band will perform Aug. 16. founded the Scratch Sessions DJ training program.
DJ Bizzon has rocked Summerfest’s biggest stage — the Marcus Amphitheater — twice. He opened for Pitbull in 2016, and Future, Migos and Big Sean last summer, bringing along a protégé to each outing.
Opening for Trombone Shorty revealed DJ Bizzon’s ability to mix old-school funk, soul and R&B with classic and contemporary hip hop. He even threw a trap beat underneath “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire. It was fire. I overheard a woman exclaim to her friend, “the deejay is gooood.”
“I’d never seen Trombone Shorty live and I didn’t know exactly what the turnout would be,” Miller told me the next day. “It was a fun crowd, they were down to dance.”
Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews at Turner Hall Ballroom on June 13.