Whether it is due to something the water in the flood, New Orleans has definitely spawned some the best musical talent the world has ever seen. Amazingly, much of that skillful aptitude is often encapsulated in familial groups. The Andrews clan is one such bunch. Their legacy has made an important impact on our semi-circular city, as well as around the globe, that cannot be ignored. The famed Andrews family has been responsible for the success of a number of acts, including the Rebirth Brass Band, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, James “Satchmo of the ghetto” Andrews and Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews.
Glen David Andrews is yet another product of the family’s characteristics musical brilliance, which he showcases in hits like “ Knock Wit Me Rock Wit Me,” “Show Me How You Do That Dance,” and “ Over in the Gloryland.” His Armstrong-esque voice and proficient trumpeting has taken him to Italy, Amsterdam, South Africa, and other countries. Andrews’ popularity is quickly gaining momentum and could potentially overshadow that of his more well-known counterparts. This self-taught singer/trumpeter began playing at the young age of fourteen with his cousin, “Trombone Shorty.”
Although he credits his mother with having the biggest influence on his life, Andrews acknowledges Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Big Joe Turner, Solomon Burke, Etta James, and Diana Washington as being most influential on his music style. As of late, he has been collaborating with the Dirty Dozens and Rebirth brass bands, along with Paul Sanchez of Cowboy Mouth. Also in recent months, Andrews has taken his musical prowess down an unexpected road...hence Paul Sanchez. However, five things stood out when conducting this interview: Andrews in unafraid of making controversial remarks that may stifle his fledgling career, is absolutely not a fan of rap, despises attempts at categorizing his music, is adamantly cynical towards a post-Katrina New Orleans, and can be a bit contentious during an interview.
WYAT: Typically, how would you describe your music?
Glen: It’s very brass band infused jazz and gospel. We’re kind of experimenting with this southern rock. We’re trying to do something new. We’re not really focusing on the brass band thing right now. It’s more...based on my own style. More of a southern rock style, jam band-infused sound I’m trying to create right now.
WYAT: How would you describe Glen David & the Lazy Six?
Glen: It’s no longer the Lazy Six, It’s just Glen Andrews. We dropped the Lazy Six right before Satchmo Fest. The music is more complicated and more serious and more based on entertaining...better and longer grooves with harder riffs. It’s way more interesting. We have to have different structures to the songs, whereas with jazz thing, the structure’s already been set.
WYAT: How did you like it at Satchmo Fest? How did you do out there?
Glen: I did pretty good. I had the opportunity to record with Marlon Jordan and Snug Harbor over the weekend and Delfeayo Marsalis with Ellis and I got to jam out with The Meters. I just need more publicity and more help from the local side.
WYAT: When you began to be the headliner were you more nervous than excited?
Glen: I always wanted to have my own band. I started off with my brother, Derrick, who is the snare drummer for the Rebirth, but I’m close to the same age as Troy, so I played with Troy for a long time when I first started playing music. I was always the front man and I was always the man who had to sing. I actually liked it. I never wanted to be in the back. I always wanted to be in the front. I was excited to know that I could finally step out on my own and get in the front.
WYAT: How did you start fronting your own band?
Glen: I had played with everybody. Born and raised in Tremé around the music, I don’t see a purpose in me standing behind eight people when I could step out and I could do what I want to do. It was just time. It was written in the book of life for it to happen at that time.
WYAT: What other instruments can you play?
Glen: I play the drums...but I kind of like the microphone and the horn. I actually love the microphone.
WYAT: Did you ever have aspirations to be anything else growing up?
Glen: I ain’t never wanted to be anything but a musician. I always thought the musician was the coolest. I was born and raised in the Tremé, the oldest historically Black neighborhood where all the music go on… surrounded by all the music in the family.
WYAT: Who have you been listening to lately?
Glen: Derek Trucks, Galactic...listening to a lot of Marlon Jordan…’cause I’ve been playing with him a lot, so I had really been trying to stay on top of his stuff. Donna Hopkins...Donald Fagen…
WYAT: What are some of your favorite New Orleans venues?
Glen: None of them!
WYAT: None of them?
Glen: I done played all of them. I’m not focusing on working in New Orleans, I’m not focusing on making a record to help… New Orleans. I’m trying to live as a professional musician, taking it to the next level and focusing far beyond New Orleans. If you think New Orleans, it’s like you’re making pennies. I’m thinking dollars; I’m trying to travel. All I want the people of New Orleans to do is help me get better pay...better gigs to help me get the hell away from home! I’m trying to get gold record… I ain’t going to get it there.
WYAT: So there’s nothing that you want to do to help recovery of New Orleans?
Glen: No! Been there, did that. Not trying to do that no time soon. You get burnt out doing all that, especially if you’ve done it and you saw results that done been squandered and stepped all over. It discourages you.
WYAT: What help did you give before?
Glen: I started the music program at the Sound Cafe! My brother’s running the Roots of Jazz program. We’re very into it with kids. I was into it more than anything, but right now, the focus is totally on the music totally; totally on me traveling and the music. It’s not about doing after-school programs for children at risk. The fact of the matter is that all these music programs [are] not benefiting the Black children of New Orleans. You go to these programs and you don’t have anything but a bunch of white kids and I don’t think none of them are at risk.
WYAT: Do you think the Black kids are not taking advantage, or that they are not being accepted into the programs?
Glen: They’re not taking advantage of them. The program’s there for them. You got Louis Armstrong Jazz Camp, Tip’s Co-op...all kinds of stuff that children should be in, just right now for me, that ain’t my focus. Nowhere near it. I ain’t got time to change the world and throw up the peace sign.
WYAT: DO you think music helped you stay out of trouble as you were growing up?
Glen: I think music is what I was supposed to do in life. That’s why I’m doing it. You get in trouble along the way.
WYAT: What would you tell kids that are coming up and want to be musicians?
Glen: Respect and learn the tradition...preserve and promote it. Stop making a mockery of it. EVery brass band out there is making a mockery of everything the Olympia, the Majestic, the Eureka, and all these great bands stand for. That’s a shame! They’re killing the traditions. These kids are literally walking in it every day and don’t have a clue. They have no respect for the funerals, the traditions. There’s basics, and it seems like in New Orleans, They’re passing it up in the brass bands.
WYAT: I know had problems with second lining.
Glen: We still do. The only good thing is James Carter, ‘cause he’s totally about the culture and the arts. More importantly we are gonna be second lining? Might as well get used to it.
WYAT: Where do you think the change in attitude concerning second lining is coming from?
Glen: Second lining being associated with violence. One has nothing to do with the other. But you do have these few assholes at the second lines and funerals who jump all over cars, throwing beers all over the coffin. It’s disrespectful. That ain’t, second lining; that’s disrespect. Second lining is an expression of your dance. It’s spiritual influence. When you see somebody getting on top of coffins and throwing liquor and beer and jumping on people’s cars and destroying their property, it reminds me of all that jiggabooing the rappers do on the videos. And then they make all the young children think it’s all right to wear your pants off your ass. It ain’t cool.
WYAT: I know you don’t want to be a political activist or politician, but do you think that more government involvement or money would help get some genuine change in this city? If not, what will make the important change?
Glen: Get the Republicans out of office--start with that get rid of Ray Nagin! This man is not even trying to fix the damn streets. Get rid of that police chief that they got everybody in the front office. It’s time to make a difference with the Times-Picayune, too, The first thing the paper puts is anything negative. If you can’t put [out] a decent article, then how are you going to get decent results?
WYAT: Was there anything that prompted you to make the gospel record?
Glen: I just feel like doing it. I’m going to call the shots in my career...don’t have to bow to the pressures of the big labels.
WYAT: You ever thought about starting your own label?
Glen: I’d rather start my own church. It’s more exciting to me than a record label. I can make a bigger impact.
WYAT: Any upcoming events?
Glen: We just did The Faubourg/Treme Story, the Shake the Devil Off film (the Spike Lee documentary). I’m in a movie that’s coming out with Laurence Fishburne. Mostly I’m focusing on recording my live gospel record October. That’s the main project.