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Published: 2011/02/22
by James Martin

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue/Los Amigos Invisibles, Humboldt Brews Arcata, CA – 2/9

A seemingly odd couple was announced to be visiting Humboldt: Latin Grammy winning Los Amigos Invisibles, an energy-charged Latin-funk band from Venezuela opening for New Orleans up-and-comer Trombone Shorty, alongside his talented band, Orleans Avenue. It promised to be an entertaining night, and at Humboldt Brewery in small-town Arcata, California, both bands delivered.

Los Amigos Invisibles hit the stage with an undaunting energy, an hour of upbeat funk-infused Latin pop with house and acid jazz influences. Lead singer Julio Briceño said half way through their set that he felt like he was playing in his living room with all his friends, observing the intimacy of Humboldt Brews. It was non-stop dance party on and off the stage and Los Amigos Invisibles played straight through their set without a break.

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews was introduced onto stage as a Grammy Nominee and right off the bat he showed us why he was nominated with a performance of his title instrumental track off his album “Backatown.” With Shorty’s trombone blasting the funky sound and the heavy rhythms of his percussionists: Dwayne Williams on the congas and drummer Joey Peebles, they had the near sold-out crowd shaking and grooving. Wasting no time, Shorty & his band Orleans Avenue drove strong into “Suburbia” which one could describe as a hard rock track, with Pete Murano dropping heavy guitar riffs on his Les Paul along with some New Orleans funk mixed in. Shorty not only dazzles with his horn skills but also as a vocalist and “On The Way Down” is one where his vocals shine. Shorty engaged the crowd and his face would beam with an infectious smile, his stage presence larger than life. Tim McFatter may look young but he his solo which started off “Get You Groove On” would make you think he has been playing for years beyond his age.

Shorty’s multi-faceted talent is not limited to the trombone or his voice; he also picked up his trumpet frequently throughout the night. As they played a cover of “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” he sustained a single, unwavering note for nearly two minutes, cheeks blown out in a fashion reminiscent of Dizzy Gillepsie. During “You Got The Same Thing Going On” Shorty’s band members got funky with “Can You Back It Up,” Shorty calling out each band member individually to dance and go nuts on stage, bass player Michael Ballard being the one who really let loose while holding it down. Out of nowhere the band went into a cover of the Black Eyed Peas’ “Let’s Get It Started” even though it the party started as soon as Shorty took stage.

Shorty and the band, being from New Orleans, are proud of where they come from and are always paying tribute to their hometown. As they peformed “St. James Infirmary” you could close your eyes and imagine you were in New Orleans at that moment. “Something Beautiful,” recorded with Lenny Kravitz on his album, is another where Shorty’s talent as a singer is evident. When the set was over it seemed like the night at just begun and the crowd wasn’t going to let the band leave as 300+ fans yelled for more. The band returned, finishing strong with “Bet You Like It” and the dueling saxes of McFatter and Dan Oestreicher. Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue left the stage and the attendees of the night went home with the sounds of New Orleans in their heads.

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