Trom­bone Shorty nearly blew the roof off Turner Hall23

Wisconsin Gazette - - Opinion - By Joey Gri­halva Con­tribut­ing writer

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.

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