Sunday, August 08, 2010

It is THAT Glen David Andrews

Several days ago I heard that there would be a free outdoor concert of New Orleans bands, featuring the Wild Magnolias, at Lincoln Center. That's for me. That was tonight. Yes, the Wild Mangolias were there, the Soul Rebels Brass Band was on the bill, and leading off was Glen David Andrews with his band. Was it that Glen David Andrews, the one I met in 2008. Could it be? Was that possible?

This evening Glen David Andrews had a trombone but he mainly just carried it around, putting it down on the stage and then picking it up once or twice for a few notes. Tonight he was a singer, the singer and showman leading his band, as supremely confident as the young Cassius Clay, and as crazy and charismatic as he was talented. What was this? He climbed on top of those of us standing and jammed into the area in front of the stage to body surf the crowd, wireless microphone in hand, still skat singing and exhorting refrains. He and his band did synchronized dancing in a way that had the crowd laughing and dancing at the same time, or at least this person and everyone around him. He did as much messing around with the mike stand as James Brown or Mick Jagger. Did I once meet a Glen David Andrews impersonator or was this the same person. It looked like him with a few added pounds but...

After his performance I found him signing CD's and any piece of clothing that someone wanted marked up. We talked. It was him.

In the spring of 2008 I met Glen David Andrews as he was playing the street for quarters and dollars at Jackson Square in front of St. Louis Cathedral on one hot hot afternoon. He was dressed in a plain white t-shirt, worn black trousers, and black shoes that had seen better days. His trombone looked worn as well with some noticeable dents and no shine. He was accompanied by an old man on a big acoustic bass held together by duct tape and by a gaunt young guy on a snare drum who nodded off between songs while Glen passed the hat. I hung around for as long as they played. That Glen David Andrews was good, entertaining, had a big smile, and plenty of time to talk to this guy who dropped a few dollars between songs. When the guys had enough money to get some food or something else, that was it.

The same night I was wandering in and out of the great clubs on Frenchmen Street and saw Glen again. Same clothes and the trombone on his shoulder, he was striding up and down the street, looking into clubs and stopping on corners to play a song or two. We talked again and I bought a poorly or barely produced CD from him for 10 bucks. Later I was in some club seeing a set by Walter "Wolfman" Washington, the well known veteran performer and bandleader in the world of New Orleans music. Glen strode into the club and walked right up on stage and joined in with the Wolfman's band as if there was nothing more natural. He more or less stole the audience's attention for a few minutes, the audacity and the exuberance did it. As the song ended a member of Wolfman's entourage whispered something to Glen and he smiled, walked off the stage and headed out of the club with as confident a walk as when he came in.

Two years and three months later, that's now, he's dressed in a suit, has big white rimmed sunglasses, a hot band, and is on stage at Lincoln Center. Is this an amazing New Orleans story or not? Tonight he joined the Soul Rebels for the final part of their set and pretty much took control of the stage as all of the evening's musicians joined in.

Tonight I learned that Glen grew up in the Treme neighborhood, that he has a role in the HBO series by the same name, and that he is the cousin of Trombone Shorty who at 24 is an established star of the younger traditionalists of the New Orleans music scene and who is the grandson of Jessie Hill, the legendary singer and songwriter(as in Ooh Poo Pah Doo Part 2). Obviously music runs in the family. This afternoon Glen and his band visited the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, Queens and did a second line around the area - wish I had known.

Part 2 of this coverage of the concert will follow tomorrow.


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