Ready to Kick Brass, the Bayou City Brass Band Delivers a Rocking Good Time
“Brass on the Grass” Summer Series at Bagby Park
Will Thomas had his image of jazz musicians shaped by his influential father Bubbha Thomas, a five-time Grammy nominated drummer who founded the Houston International Jazz Festival, August Jazz Month, and the Summer Jazz Workshop.
When Thomas thinks of jazz, he visualizes the quiet cool many associate with the music. When he founded the Bayou City Brass Band, he chose a different approach.
“I wanted straight brass and to play some funk music and have energy, dance routines,” Thomas says. “Have a party rather than stand up there and be cool.”
Thomas and the other nine members of the Bayou City Brass Band have a party every Tuesday night at Bagby Park (415 Gray) as the featured act for the Brass on the Grass Summer Series. The free and recurring event, which concludes on Aug. 30, showcases Thomas’ philosophy, his belief that music should be both good and fun.
The 10-piece Bayou City Brass Band was founded in 2008. Thomas is one of three trombonists and grooves alongside four trumpeters, one tuba player, one percussionist and one drummer. Each member played collegiately for marching bands representing Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) universities including Texas Southern, Prairie View A&M, Southern, Grambling, Jackson State and Alcorn State.
Most of the band members are music educators with backgrounds in band direction. When they formed their troop, the primary goal was to bring brass instruments to the forefront and to offer their own unique brand of entertainment.
Midtown Houston provides an ideal backdrop for the Bayou City Brass Band, as many in attendance earlier this month were unfamiliar with its incredible energy.
“Most of the time they’re in awe,” Thomas says proudly. “They’ve never seen what we deliver. It’s entertainment. Most bands just play music but we sing, we dance, we rap. We have choreographed dance routines. It brings a different flavor and excitement to people when they first see it.
“It’s always good to see people that have never seen you perform before. We feed off the crowd. When we’re out there and you see people that have never seen you before you feed off the energy.”
Good fortune brought Midtown Houston and the Bayou City Brass Band together. Thomas’ campers performed for the second year at Bagby Park as part of the Live At Lunch series. In an effort to promote the 26th Houston International Jazz Fest, the band requested an opportunity to use the park as their practice venue. The initial unannounced performance drew a crowd and there a special programming series, “Brass on the Grass” was born.
The series will continue until the end of the month for those looking to dance and groove.
“It’s always good to bring some good entertainment to Midtown,” Thomas says. “It’s a growing area and you have a lot of new residents in Midtown. If you can offer some good music it’s a win-win for everybody involved.”