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TROMBONE SHORTY - an interview with a fan

{Editor's Note: This interview took place at the Trombone Shorty Show in December 2014.}

John had to retire early from his profession and is on permanent disability due to an Aorta dissection.  A medical occurrence that, as he states, allows only 20% of its' victims to live.   Going through this at such a young age, he has learned not to take anything for granted.  His gratitude towards life, his wife and his passions, show apparent in our conversation.   John has been married for 32 years and attributes the longevity of his marriage to plain and simple love and communication, or in his words: 'keeping it real'.  Stating that 'it's not easy', he adds that an interest in going to live music shows helped keep their bond strong through the years. 

His brother-in-law, Eugene, was in the music industry with some of the first African-American radio stations and also worked with music labels, such as Warner Bros.  His brother-in-law's connections helped get him into many a show and for this, John is also very grateful.  His love for live music started early as he grew up in a time when DC was a very influential place for different music genres.  With a diverse international demographic, DC helped to streamline Jazz, Go-Go, and Funk.  John got to experience the birth and rise of these of music genres.  We're joining him on a trip down memory lane, before we head into Trombone Shorty at the 9:30 Club. 

My name is John.  I'm a native Washingtonian.  I will be 55 next week.  Thank you- I know I look good. Hahahahahah. 

I'm from this area- born and raised.  I've seen the whole music scene in DC.  I even used to take the old Wilson Liner to Marshall Hall (permanently closed in 1980) where Chuck Brown and the Soul-Searchers used to play.  Back in the day- in the 60's…I used to catch the boat out of Southwest DC.  It would take you over to Marshall Hall for the carnival and the rides and everything.  Brothers would be throwing each other off the top deck into the (Potomac) river and everything…

I was probably about 8, 9, or 10 years old then, but yeah, I've seen the whole scene.  My love for music started then, kind of.  Back in the day, I was more scared than anything because people were acting so crazy and wild.  But, my love for music grew more in my teenage years.  I got into fusion-funk, like George Duke and people like that.  And of course, I'm a funk-head, Parliament Funkadelic…you gotta be if you're from DC.  George Clinton played at 930 club all the time.  Did you know some of the guys from Funkadelic used to live in the neighborhood over by PG Plaza, back in the day before they really blew up big?  And then one day they just blew up real big.  I got to know a little bit more about them because my brother-in-law, actually is a big exec with Warner Brothers records and he used to work with George Clinton and all those guys.

I'm here at 9:30 Club tonight to see Trombone Shorty; this will be my 4th time seeing him.  Actually, to be honest I didn't really get into his music until the series Treme came on and I started hearing the music and I loved it.  I actually have 2 nephews who have relocated and have been living in New Orleans for over 10 years now. So we have a real good connection- we fly down cheap, stay for free, and go to all the clubs and stuff.  I've never been in New Orleans when Trombone Shorty is there.  He's blown up so much he's traveling, playing the world.   Now his tour has him playing in Japan and places like that.   We actually got to see his cousin, god I can't remember his name--Alexander David something--but, he's Shorty's cousin and we got to see him play down there--it was really good.  We got to see Kermit Ruffin, down in the Treme , and he actually played some DC Go-Go.  So, it was nice to see how all these musical styles are intertwined.

Well, no, I've never stood firstinline to get tickets, mostly because I'm lucky!  I've always had connections with my brother-in-law.  He was also the Program Director for WOL Radio; before there were any black FM radio stations we had WOOK and WOL, so I always had connections to get tickets to things.   I've seen shows in Sky suites, and sometimes I just bought my tickets and was in the  middle of a crowd at a festival.

My favorite show of all time, that I’ve ever seen? Whoosh...that’s hard, because I’m 55 years old and I have seen everybody in their prime.

I've seen Marvin Gaye, people like that perform.  Well, now that you mention it…the favorite thing that I ever went to was the first DUFF (Dimensions Unlimited Freedom Festival) concert at RFK stadium in 1973.  They had everybody there.  They had Funkadelic there, Mandrill, New Birth, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes when Teddy Pendergrass was still singing with them.  Marvin Gaye, that was the best thing ever.  It went from early in the evening until the next morning.  And I was a kid…but I loved it.

I gotta see a show.  In fact I'm going to see one next week- Thievery Corporation.  They'll be at the Lincoln Theatre.  If I haven't been to a show in awhile, I get edgy.  I love music.  It's hard to say why.  It's just a feeling.  It puts a feeling in your body.  It takes your mind to another place.  That's what I love about it.

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