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“Where y’at, Shorty!”

At 5 o’clock on Saturday, I headed down to Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on Boston’s waterfront to see Trombone Shorty’s Voodoo Threauxdown, the thirty-two-year-old’s star-studded new tour to celebrate the 300th anniversary of his hometown, New Orleans. While it was my first time seeing Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews in concert, I was no stranger to his music or his story, thanks, in part, to his Caldecott Honor– and CSK Award–winning picture book with illustrator Bryan Collier, Trombone Shorty.

When I arrived at the concert, I ambled up to the souvenir stand where I was happy to see both this first book and their latest collaboration, The 5 O’Clock Band, for sale. And as the opening bands began to play and the evening wore on, I saw this new book’s message come to life onstage. According to the characters Shorty meets on the Tremé streets, success takes three things: dedication, tradition, and love.

From the on-your-feet sets by the young New Breed Brass Band, the iconic Preservation Hall Jazz Band and special guest Kermit Ruffins, the funk and jazz jam band Galactic and special guests Shamarr Allen and Erica Falls, and finally Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, this concert shined a light on each element the picture book highlights. I could see it in all of their amazing musical skills developed through dedication to their craft (at one point early in his set, Trombone Shorty put his circular breathing skills to work with a several-minute-sustained trumpet trill); their respect for the musicians and music that have come before and their excitement to share those jazz traditions with the rest of the world (blues guitar master Walter “Wolfman” Washington played with Galactic, while legendary New Orleans jazz musician Cyril Neville came onstage for a few songs with Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue); and their love for one another, music, and the city of New Orleans (late highlights in the show included a segue into “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and Trombone Shorty’s band and the New Breed Brass “taking to the streets” in a “second line” musical procession through the crowd). It was certainly a night to remember and definitely gave me a new respect for these two picture books and their author.

Trombone Shorty’s Voodoo Threauxdown will be touring the U.S. in August and Sept. Look for our review of The 5 O’Clock Band in the September/October 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Cynthia K. Ritter About Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is associate editor of The Horn Book Guide. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons College.

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