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Funky Boys from New Orleans

The Hot 8 Brass Band visited the Elbphilharmonie.

They are at home on the streets of New Orleans, but they’ve been almost constantly on tour since their 20th anniversary last year: with their wild mix of hip-hop, funk and big easy jazz, the musicians of the Hot 8 Brass Band get their audiences grooving all over the world. On 16 April 2017 the brass formation played the Elbphilharmonie as part of the »Transatlantik« festival – and they insisted on making a little surprise appearance on the Plaza before their gig in the Grand Hall.

Hot 8 Brass Band

The members of the band first met up in 1996 in the jazz city of New Orleans, and in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 they played in rescue centres to give support and hope to those made homeless by the storm. They also drew people’s attention to the fate of the hurricane victims on tours through the USA.

Hot 8 Brass Band
Hot 8 Brass Band © Peter Hundert

The band itself was also severely affected by the natural disaster: trumpeter Terrell »Burger« Batiste lost both legs as a result, and four other members of the group died from illness or violence in the streets of New Orleans. In 2006 drummer Dinerral Shavers was shot dead in the street, and since then the band has been involved in the campaign »Silence is Violence«.

Hot 8 music is feel-good music, music with a message. It’s life music.

Nowadays, the brass combo puts all its strength into social initiatives like the »Black Lives Matter Movement«, and into the international success of its music; not only in memory of the friends it lost, but also in pursuit of the goal the musicians have set themselves: »We have the privilege of going on tour, which gives us an opportunity to tell our story and thus keep the memory of our dead colleagues alive,« thus Bennie Pete, tuba player and bandleader.

Hot 8 Brass Band
Hot 8 Brass Band © Claudia Höhne

The Hot 8 Brass Band has already appeared alongside rap stars like Lauryn Hill and Mos Def, and with the gospel group Blind Boys of Alabama. But regardless of whether they are marching through New Orleans on a parade or touring the USA, Europe and Asia, their musical creed remains the same: »Hot 8 music is feel-good music… music with a message. It’s life music.«