Trombone Shorty brings it home

Catch rising star and band at free concert Wednesday

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews’ show next week for the Harvest the Music concert series in Lafayette Square is a rare chance for Andrews and his band, Orleans Avenue, to play at home in New Orleans.

“I’m ready for that,” the 27-year-old singer, trombone and trumpet player said last month before a show at the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif.

“That’s been one of the dates I actually remember,” he added. “It’s always great to see my family and my high school friends and people just supporting me from home.”

Because Andrews and Orleans Avenue perform their supercharged funk-rock internationally now, the group’s local shows are a small percentage of the 150-200 dates they do a year. It’s a big change from a decade ago, when they played somewhere in New Orleans every day of the week.

Andrews and Orleans Avenue followed last week’s release of their new album, “Say That To Say This,” with a spot on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” Before the group’s performance, fellow guest and Andrews fan Charlie Sheen tweeted, “Watch me tonight on ‘The Tonight Show’ and watch Trombone Shorty for the next 40 years!! Epic!” Sheen has more than 10 million Twitter followers.

After the group’s “Tonight Show” performance of “Fire and Brimstone,” Sheen and Andrews embraced in a big hug. Andrews subsequently tweeted a photo of the band with the actor, commenting, “Mighta found a new band member at the gig last night!”

While it’s a sacrifice to be away from home so much, Andrews knows that national TV appearances and frequent touring are part of living his dream.

“I’m blessed and honored that we’re bringing this New Orleans sound all around the world,” he said. “Representing our great city, it keeps me going.”

Despite his busy, busy schedule, this month has seen multiple hometown appearances by Andrews. On Sept. 8, he played the national anthem at the New Orleans Saints’ season opener. On Sept. 5, he joined trumpeter Nicholas Payton for Warren Easton Charter High School’s “Jazz Legends” concert. Andrews, Payton and “Jazz Legends” concert honoree Pete Fountain are graduates of the 100-year-old school.

“I love the school,” Andrews said. “It has a lot to do with me being who I am. Whenever they call, whatever I can do, I’m always showing up, if I’m available.”

Of course, Andrews is thrilled about “Say That To Say This,” his third album for Verve Records, a division of the giant Universal Music Group.

“ ‘Say that to say this,’ that’s our New Orleans saying,” he explained of the album’s title. “Whenever someone is telling you a story and it feels like the story is getting too long, ‘Say that to say this’: It’s another way to say, ‘To make a long story short.’ ”

Andrews co-produced the album with Raphael Saadiq, the former Tony! Toni! Tone! singer whose production credits include Macy Gray, TLC, D’Angelo and the Roots.

“Raphael is a great producer and a great musician,” Andrews said. “He’s a perfect match for us because he can take us some places musically. And he’s a big fan of New Orleans brass band music.”

Andrews and Saadiq also connect with their mutual love for great music of the past.

“We have an understanding of what happened before us and how to bring it forward now, with our own spin,” Andrews said.

Andrews reached into New Orleans’ music legacy for “Be My Lady,” a song originally recorded by funk masters the Meters for their final studio album, 1977’s “New Directions.” The singer-trombonist also pulled off a miracle of sorts, getting all five Meters in the studio for his remake of “Be My Lady.”

“I had to call every one of them individually,” Andrews recalled. “I told them I wanted to redo their song with them. Each one of them had a little moment of silence when I said, ‘The original crew.’ And then they all said, ‘Even if you can’t get the rest of the guys to agree, I would love to be a part of the project.’

“So it worked out. I’m honored that they agreed to come together to play on my album. It was a dream come true, to tell you the truth.”

Andrews’ debut in May as the closing-day act at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, a spot traditionally occupied by the Neville Brothers, was another dream delivered.

“To have closed out on the biggest stage, with my hometown fans and my fans from around the world cheering me on, it’s still surreal to me today.”