On this day, Bo ruled the Fair Grounds stage. It’s speakers amplified the foundation of rock and roll.
He wore his felt hat with a big medallion that caught the setting sun. A turbo 5-speed guitar in hand. Glasses, amber-tinted and oversized. A go-tee flecked with gray. Three decades of driving rhythm and unbridled energy sweat through his pores.
In the crowd, a four-year-old called Trombone Shorty, holding a trombone so much bigger than him it made him lean to one side, was starting a legend of his own.
Trombone Shorty (born Troy Andrews) had music in his blood. His grandfather was R&B’s Jessie Hill (Alexa play “Ooh Poo Pah Doo” on Spotify). His older brother is trumpeter James Andrews.
Shorty was already a local prodigy. He marched through the streets of Tremé with musicians twice his height and ten times his age regularly.
Today, he played in a parade with his brother by his side. James’ fingers two-stepped the keys. Shorty’s moved the slides, as far as he could at least.
Revelers danced and waved handkerchiefs. “Where y’at? Where y’at?” A chant rang out. On the sidelines, people danced history through the Calinda, the Bamboula.
And then someone, in the celebratory chaos Jazz Fest inspires, lifted Shorty up, trombone and all. Hundreds of hands passed him overhead and towards Bo until he arrived, shell-shocked, on stage.