I confess I’ve never heard of a bad New Orleans street band, but I think Tuba Skinny might be a real contender for the very best of them. And don’t let the category of street band fool you, these cats get around. The collective began playing together in 2009, and they’ve since played tours in the U.S., Australia, and all over Europe.
The band’s members change all the time, though the core members – Shaye Cohn (coronet, trumpet, piano, and unofficial band leader), Erika Lewis (those smoky vocals and occasionally percussion), Robin Rapuzzi (washboard), Todd Burdick (tuba and sousaphone), and Barnabus Jones (trombone) – are usually there. No matter what combination of members is playing, they’re consistently incredible.
“It’s kind of amazing how this band manages to exist without a manager or a label. It’s hard to imagine how it could happen without the Internet.”-Tuba Skinny guitarist Max Bien-Kahn
And their success hasn’t gone to their heads. You will still find them playing the streets of their hometown whenever they get the chance. It’s impossible to sit still listening to them. Although the musicians don’t smile much during their performances, there’s tons of joy and charm in their music. I assume they’re just concentrating.
Although the band is featured in more than 500 popular videos on YouTube, they don’t seem to have their own channel. Don’t think that means they’re not serious, though. The band has released 7 albums, including one during the pandemic. They just seem to prefer fan videos. I like it!