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Youtuba: Youngblood are top brass

28 September, 2017 — By Emily Finch

The 10 members of Youngblood Brass Band are set to play at Islington Assembly Hall on October 8

MOST things that started in your school years, such as inappropriate romances, terrible garage bands and bad sleeping habits, should be consigned to your pre-18 years.

But a Wisconsin brass band decided not to disband after high school graduation and turned their side-hobby into a full-time passion which has enabled them to tour the world for almost 20 years.

On October 8, 10 members of Youngblood Brass Band, with their tubas, trumpets and saxophones, will play the Islington Assembly Hall, kicking off a European tour. A world away from the traditional school band which honours precision and timing above all else while entertaining the audience of an American football match, Youngblood Brass Band have morphed into something slicker, newer and a bit more cool.

The band credit the brass bands of New Orleans who fused European military band music with African folk as one of their main sources of inspiration. Jazz great Louis Armstrong cut his teeth with his trumpet in New Orleans’ Tuxedo Brass Band, appearing at funerals and street parades.

Meanwhile, Youngblood have previously collaborated with some of the world’s greatest hip-hop talent, including Talib Kweli, providing the beats for track Ya’ll Stay up and with Questlove of the Roots.

The band will perform tracks from their latest album, Pax Volume, which saw them working with Brighton-based record label Tru Thoughts.

Formed at Oregon High School in 1995, the band were adorably known as One Lard Biskit Brass Band, but changed their name to its current form in 1998. Youngblood are best known for their raucous classic Brooklyn, which defies anyone listening to not to tap along, and there’s no doubt the track will be one of the highlights of their London show. Their cover of the Fugees’ 2005 hit Killing Me Softly has proved an enduring classic, much like the original.

Over the years, the genre of the band has shifted with the departure of various key members. When original member Nat MacIntosh departed the band in 2004 it turned more towards hip-hop, and that style has largely remained.

The band also provide workshops in the cities they visit, teaching kids the merits of being in a brass band with the camaraderie and discipline it brings. In various interviews throughout the years the band have credited the opportunities afforded to them within the public school system of America for enabling them to become the musicians they are today – and through workshops they undoubtedly inspire others to pick up brass instruments.

With the rise of celebrity DJs who seemingly gain a huge following just from spinning records live on an internet stream (see BoilerRoom) a live brass band is a welcome change. Failing to mix two tracks properly while DJing isn’t going to stand out too much, while a dud note on the trumpet will reverberate through the room.

Youngblood Brass Band plan on releasing a compilation CD and LP next month after the completion of their European tour.


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