Oct 24 2011

Lagniappe Brass Band

By: Misty Faucheux


Where Y’at Magazine recently caught up with band drummer Joshua “Jams” Marotta to learn about the bands’ influences, history and future plans.

The band was founded by saxophonist Chet Overall, who moved to New Orleans from Tennessee and fell in love with the city. Besides Marotta and Overall, the band also includes trombonist Michael Watson from Canton, Ohio; trombonist Wes Anderson from Baton Rouge, Belize-born trumpet player Ian Smith; Chicago native trumpet player Mario Abney; and tuba player Joshua Brown who grew up in New York. Marotta hails from Lafayette.

Lagniappe Brass Band was formed in New Orleans in November 2010. According to Marotta, Lagniappe experimented with different musicians “to find the right mix of reliability and talent.” He said that it’s “really difficult to find available musicians in a city like New Orleans, where we are busy playing with everyone and hustling”. This often means that your only choices are musicians who “are not in high demand because of their talent.”

Marotta says that Lagniappe lucked out and that they found just the right type of musicians and musical mix for which they were looking. Lagniappe “ended up with a lineup of bad ass musicians that are reliable…go figure”.
When asked about the type of music the band plays, Marotta says that band’s sound “is rooted in New Orleans brass band culture that makes asses shake and sweat glands sweat. It is in your face and high energy.” 

He adds that “there is nothing more powerful than six energy filled horn players lined up, creating an undeniably massive wall of sound - filling your ears, the space between the walls and the air above the streets. Below this is the infectious Afro-Cuban bass drum pulse that alone will have you dancing.”  

Marotta says, “Our sound is different from other New Orleans brass bands because we generally use a drum set instead of a bass drum player and a snare drum player.”

Based in New Orleans, Lagniappe Brass Band follows in the footsteps of other famous brass bands, and Marotta says that the band is influenced by greats like Rebirth Brass Band, Soul Rebels and Youngblood Brass Band. Band members have even played with musicians like Irvin Mayfield, King Floyd, The Temptations, Luther Kent and Greg Allman.

Selling music is how most bands make money, but most people are now finding and downloading music online, often for free or at highly discounted prices. This has been a touchy subject for many musicians, but Lagniappe has a different take on the subject. Marotta says that selling music online is just “another avenue to reach people”. He adds, “A band can’t be playing live in different cities around the world every day and year round, but the Internet allows for our music to be heard by millions 24 hours a day and year round.”

While Lagniappe spends most of their time in New Orleans, they don’t just play traditional music venues. You can book the band for weddings, receptions, airport greetings and festivals. While they do perform at a variety of venues, Marotta says that his favorite venue is The Maison located at 508 Frenchmen Street. He says that the band would love to play the venue more often. You can, however, often find the band at Balcony Music Club at 1331 Decatur, where they play every Tuesday. 

Marotta says that the band loves playing in New Orleans because of “the casualness, the lack of egos, the friendliness and the want to have fun. New Orleans is a place where friends play music together. 

In New Orleans, a bad ass musician/band leader might play with a band mate that doesn’t stack up talent wise, but they play together and put on an awesome, genuine, fun show because they are friends on and off stage and have a history together. I don’t think you find that in a lot of music cities”.

Marotta says that Lagniappe is influenced by a variety of sounds and atmospheres, including “funk, groove, energy, dance, sexy bodies, smiles and food”. And, New Orleans is a great place for the band’s “high energy good time” music, which inspires listeners to dance along with the band. Dancing around the stage is a signature of the band. You can tell that they are having fun every time that they play. In fact, band member Mario Abney can often be found “swinging the ladies around or break dancing on the dance floor when he is not blowing his horn”.

Success is something that every band strives for, but Marotta has a different take on what success means to Lagniappe:

“Success is when you have met at the crossroads of how hard you want to work for the lifestyle and comfort you want to live.  For us, it is traveling the world playing the music we love with a team of friends/musicians that we love, doing it comfortably and being able to put away money so that we can live with a smile when we are old, and our backs don’t work.  We also want to eat tons of food from wherever we travel.”

The band hopes to eventually play Europe on a regular basis. They also hope “to travel the world together playing music for large festivals and being able to focus on the music and its energy and not the stresses of the business side of things.” 

Marotta adds, “ We want a good national and international booking agent that knows how to get us the money and accommodations we need so we can make asses shake all over the world.”
Keep your eye out for Lagniappe Brass Band at different New Orleans and Gulf Coast venues, including Vaso Ultra Lounge (1407 Decatur St.), Tipitinas (501 Napoleon Ave.) and Island View Casino (3300 West Beach Blvd., Gulfport, MS).

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