The Po'Boys Brass Band
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The Po'Boys Brass Band

Rochester, New York, United States | INDIE

Rochester, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Funk


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Spring 2010: Rain, Roscoes, and Romance"

I used to look at The Po'Boys Brass Band as a brass band playing rock music. I have officially changed my mind as of the band's performance at Abilene Bar and Lounge Saturday night. Horns, shmorns. This is a big, bad, balls-out rock band. The band has really tightened its attack and loosened its attitude. There's simply nowhere to hide when it starts to blow.

In defense of rock's need for volume, Neil Young once explained that you not only need to hear it, but you need to feel the air move. And the Po'Boys Brass Band moved the air big time Saturday night into a swirling, bombastic boogie blast with chunks of people in it. And that was just the rhythm aspect. When lead trombonist Nick Finzer sent his horn through an effects console that rivaled the dashboard on Air Force One, power and curiosity became one.

The band also debuted a brand new Evan Dobbins piece, "Get Duppy," which started out with a forlorn, bluesy wail that hinted at rain, roscoes, and romance before slipping into a hip-twitching, soul-sending one-drop. - Rochester, NY: City Newspaper - Frank DeBlase

"Summer 2011: 2011 Rochester International Jazz Festival, Day 9: Po Boys Brass Band"

In the year 2045, when I somehow become Supreme General of Fantasy Land, my goal is to personally destroy every electric bass (maybe standing basses, too) and replace them with tubas.

Luckily for me, I don't have to wait quite that long, as the tuba was in great form Saturday night at the Rochester International Jazz Festival. For the last day of this year's fest I decided to go out with a bang: Rochester's own Po Boys Brass Band. I can't believe it has been almost three years since I stumbled upon this group, and I had yet to see them live. The band's records are good, but let's just say that the live show is a lot better.

The band is made up of educators, all of whom have some connection to the Eastman School of Music, which gives them the name recognition for both classical and jazz music. Eastman isn't known for being a breeding ground for rock stars, but if there is one thing that the Po Boys did at the Jazz Street Stage it was exactly that: rock.

Mixing together funk, rock, metal, gospel, ska, reggae, and just about any other style you could think of, the Po Boys did it all with flash and flare. If I didn't know any better I would have said the band was born and raised in New Orleans, not Rochester,

Because I love the instrument so much, I'm going to dedicate a whole paragraph to the tuba. TJ Ricer -- now Dr. TJ Ricer to you -- is one of those people that will help bring about the tuba-over-bass revolution. Hearing him play made me wonder why more jazz bands don't ditch strings for brass and meddle with something really made of metal. It's either the best compliment or the worst insult: I would wager that if someone was listening to tonight's concert with their eyes closed, they probably wouldn't be able to notice that it was a tuba and not a bass playing. But I'm sure they could tell it was much more awesome than your average bass playing. Fwapping a string is one thing, but jumping up and down for an hour playing sousaphone is another. It was a shame to only see Ricer solo once, but I cannot imagine playing the bass parts he did for that long without my lips catching on fire and falling off.

As with Trombone Shorty Friday night, the Po Boys suffered from mild solo syndrome. As in, they just kept going and going. I would have rather seen one person on each song and more songs fit into the band's set than a tour de music every time out. I'm not knocking anything about the solos themselves, because they were all great. There were just too many of them strung together. More like frosting, less like cake.

The most impressive part of the set was the band's tribute to the world's best trombone player, Jimi Hendrix. Using a trombone patched through a distortion pedal, the Po Boys were able to show that electrifying electric guitar solos just aren't for guitars anymore.

The band also did a ripping version of "Carry On My Wayward Son," and despite how many times I've heard that song thanks to Guitar Hero, it was still awesome. In proper New Orleans fashion, there are only a few words to describe the show: c'est si bon. - Rochester, NY: City Newspaper - Willie Clark

"Winter 2010/2011: Saving their Brass - Fans pull Po'Boys out of a Funk"

Po' Boys emerge from funk, thanks to fans, with a new album.

Last year, the members of the Po' Boys Brass Band weren't sure they wanted to continue as a group. Stuck in a bad record deal at a time when most members were graduating from the Eastman School of Music, trombonist and founder Erik Jacobs says the local jazz/funk/rock outfit was ready to call it a day.

Then the band played the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. "The crowd was so amazing," says Jacobs, 29. "And we realized it's not about what would be easy for us right now. It's really about our fans."

After what Jacobs says was a "long, painful" legal process, the brass powerhouse emerged independent and went back into the studio. Out of that came Intergalactic Mustache Parade, a mostly instrumental album of originals and one cover — "Carry On Wayward Son," by Kansas.

The band — which also includes trombonists Evan Dobbins, Nick Finzer, Chris Van Hof; sousaphonist T.J. Ricer; guitarist Mike Frederick; and drummer Chris Teal — will celebrate the release of its sophomore album Saturday, March 19, at Lovin' Cup during a CD release party.

We talked with Jacobs in advance of the show about the album's title, the band's educational outreach program and more.

Where did the name Intergalactic Mustache Parade come from?

"In my opinion, the crown jewel on the album is 'Intergalactic Mustache Parade,' the track we named the album after. It's... kind of a tribute to Frank Zappa and is kind of experimenting in writing songs in (his) style. ... So how are you going to have a song called 'Intergalactic Mustache Parade' and not name your album (after the song)? Anything else we named it would have been considerably lame in comparison."

Each member of the band is a student or alumnus of Eastman School of Music. What kind of influence does that have over the band?

"I think it's pleasant to be in a band with a bunch of guys who come from the same educational background as you when it comes to music. Everyone in the band is very, very professional. Everyone knows a hell of a lot about music and about their instrument. ... It's great because there's no need for extraneous rehearsing; everyone pretty much knows their role and comes prepared."

Tell me about your education outreach program.

"(All of us) in the band are educators in some way ... So it's partially out of our desire to want to pay it forward and get into schools and try to continue to get kids excited about instrumental music. ...

"I was told (as a kid) I needed to make a choice between ... playing in an orchestra or in a big band, and either way, I'm not going to get any chicks. ... (Today) we're all about getting out there and preaching entrepreneurship: being your own boss, starting your band, being smart with business but also doing what it is you love to do. We visit schools as often as our touring schedule permits. We try to make it a priority to visit the local schools of every city we stop in."

Tell me about the covers you choose to play live and record.

"When you go into a club that you've never played ... and you have a sousaphone player walk out onstage, you're instantly going to get laughed at [laughs]. So you've gotta do something that's gonna ... get them really going and attentive. And I think the best way to do that is with songs that they know. ...

"We cover Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog," and we cover Stevie Wonder and Edgar Winter. And a lot of times when we play these big, heavy hard rock tunes that are slightly virtuoso on the trombone, it will really grab people's attention. Then once you have them in the palm of your hands, they know you're not messing around ... then that's when the rock can really happen." - Rochester, NY: Insider Magazine, Metromix, Democrat & Chronicle - Jinelle Shengulette

"Summer 2009: Rochester International Jazz Festival Blog: Day 8: Po Boys Brass Band"

I turned the corner on Friday night to catch the local Po' Boys Brass Band closing its second Gibbs Street set with its rendition of Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein." Just as my crowd-please-o-meter was about to start going off in the red, the Boys' meaty four-trombone wall of sound and freight-train groove melted my cynicism away. This was the most active I've seen Gibbs Street in the entire eight days. - Rochester, NY: City Magazine - Saby Reyes-Kulkarni

"Summer 2010: Rochester International Jazz Festival 2010, Day 8: Po Boys Brass Band"

When I headed over to see the Po Boys Brass Band Friday night on the Jazz Street Stage I felt like I was walking into a really happening party. The musicians were excited to return to the stage for the second year in a row, and the audience was excited to see them. The band consisted of guitar, drums, tuba, and four trombones. I was particularly fond of the trombonists, and I'll certainly never turn down some good tuba. The "electric trombone" was a new sound to me and gave the band a more modern feel than some other brass bands I've heard. I have to say I do prefer the classic acoustic sound.

I was happy to hear the band perform many original tunes. I've heard a lot of cover songs during the shows I have attended at the Jazz Fest so far, so it was a refreshing change of pace. It was also nice to hear a local band; all members were affiliated with Eastman School of Music and proud of it. My favorite tune was called, "Blues in the R-O-C." The band's pride -- and talent -- made me feel good about my city.

I also enjoyed a tune where the band members hoped to bring the crowd down south to New Orleans. While I've never been to the city, I'm a big fan of New Orleans jazz and appreciated the attempt to bring us to the Land of Dreams. - BY JESSE HANUS
- Rochester, NY: City Newspaper - Jesse Hanus

"Summer 2010: Po' Boys Brass band kicks off Blues Assoc. series Thursday"

For over a decade, Chenango County residents have had the opportunity to experience a wide variety of national talent in the weeks leading up to the Chenango Blues Festival and this year will be no different as the Chenango Blues Association once again offers up its Summer Concert Series, beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday with a performance by the Rochester-based Po’Boys Brass Band.

A far cry from the traditional brass band, the Po’Boys were “founded by a bunch of trombone players that were fed up with sitting in the back of orchestras and jazz bands,” according to the band’s website,

Featuring trombonists Evan Dobbins, Nick Finzer, Erik Jacobs and Chris Van Hof, guitarist Mike Frederick, drummer Chris Teal and T.J. Ricer on sousaphone, this New Orleans-inspired ensemble has, in recent years, established itself as a powerhouse of brass, funk, soul and rock, from Stevie Wonder to Tower of Power, Led Zeppelin to Edgar Winter.

“It’s a style we’ve never put on before and we like to represent as many styles as we can,” said Chenango Blues Association Board of Directors President Eric Larsen, who added the blues association had been trying to get the band involved with the annual festival for several years. “It’s something we haven’t done before and I think people will like it. It’s fun music and something you won’t see anywhere else.”

Jacobs, the bands leader and vocalist, said he and the other Po’Boys are “really excited” for their first trip to Norwich and added, “It’s really just about a party, have a good time and make sure everyone is up on their feet and dancing.”

As for the small-town, small-crowd atmosphere, Jacobs commented “every show you do, you’re mindful of the audience,” and added “crowd participation is a definite,” as it’s not unusual to find the horn section parading through the crowd, New Orleans-style.

“It’s kind of like a first date,” laughed Jacobs. “You try and give them every reason to ask you back for a second performance and make that personal connection.”

The Summer Concert Series will be held from 7 to 9 p.m., Thursday evenings in West Park. Future Summer Concert Series performances will feature C.J. Chenier on July 22, Ana Popovic on July 29 and The New Riders of the Purple Sage on Aug. 5. A special Chenango County Fair performance will be held Aug. 10 at the Chenango County Fairgrounds, featuring guitarist Les Dudek. All shows are free to the public and in the event of inclement weather, the Thursday evening performances will be held in the Chenango County Council of the Arts auditorium, 27 West Main St. For more information visit

Published: July 14th, 2010 - Norwich, NY: The Evening Sun - Brian Golden

"Winter 2008/2009: New Orleans Music Makes Way to Ithaca"

Since October 2007, seven students from Rochester’s Eastman School of Music calling themselves The Po’Boys Brass Band have been creating a new genre of New Orleans brass funk rock. Using jazz instruments to create an un-jazz-like sound, The Po’Boys Brass Band will play at 9 p.m. Sunday at Castaways with local band The Buddhi. Staff Writer Sarah McCarthy spoke with trombone player and founding member Erik Jacobs about bringing New Orleans flavor to upstate New York, covering Led Zeppelin and finding a fan base that fits.

Sarah McCarthy: How did [the Po’Boys] form?

Erik Jacobs: I was in the Marine den in New Orleans, and I’ve always loved New Orleans music and funky brass-band stuff. Brass instruments are like rock-star instruments [there]. [I thought], “That’s really cool!” ’cause I’m a classical trombone player. When I left the Marines and moved to Rochester to go to school at Eastman, I found a group of guys who were perfect for this.

SM: What are your immediate and long-term career goals?
EJ: We are committed to a six-CD record deal with an indie label in Rochester called Black Dog Media Group Records, so we’re in it for the long haul. Our major goals are to spread the word, have a great time doing what we’re doing and hopefully get paid for it.

SM: What are your major influences as a band?
EJ: Parliament Funkadelic and Tower of Power [are] big ones, but on the New Orleans side, we give props to Bonerama. They’re a big-brass funk-rock band with the same instruments as us. Dr. John, Professor Longhair, Buster Brother, New Orleans Cats, Zeppelin, Skynard — I love them.

SM: If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?
EJ: We were just accepted as an artist for the Rochester Jazz Fest this year, and we’re going to be playing right before Tower of Power. It’s exciting to have an opportunity to be in the presence of those guys. [It] would be cool if we got to jam with them.

SM: I know Rochester has a jazz scene [because of Jazz Fest]. What do you guys bring to that?
EJ: We bring that we’re not really a jazz band, but we use traditional jazz instruments. People see the trombone and the tuba, and think, “That must be some kind of jazz band.” But we play hard-core funk-rock stuff, Hendrix and Zeppelin — stuff like that.

SM: What do you think your biggest challenge as a band has been so far?
EJ: Our greatest strength and weakness is that we’re a band that exists in all of these different genres. We play everything from classic-rock covers to real fast funk stuff, to traditional New Orleans second line. If you’re an emo-punk band, then you’re going to go after the emo-punk crowd. If you’re a purely funk band, then you’re going to go after a purely funk crowd. The toughest thing is that we don’t really have a single crowd base that we can go after. We’re appealing to many crowds; the challenge is finding one target audience and sticking with it.

SM: What can Ithaca expect from your performance?
EJ: Their asses will be on fire! No, I’m just kidding. They can expect a lot of fun, something completely different than anything they’ve ever heard before. The Buddhi is playing with us; they’re more mainstream funk rock. Typically, when we play for a new city and a new crowd, they see a guy come up on stage with a tuba, and they go, “What the heck is this?” And then when they hear us play, they love it. [The audience] needs to expect to dance and have a good time.

SM: What do you feel is the most rewarding part about being in the Po’Boys?
EJ: To get up on stage in front of a big group of people, to play your own music and have people really enjoy it, connect with it, and love it. I’ve played for presidents, I’ve played a lot of shows, had a lot of great experiences, and it just doesn’t get better than people screaming for your music. It’s the greatest feeling in the world. - Ithaca, NY: The Ithacan Journal - Sarah McCarthy

"Autumn 2008: The Po'Boys want to be Rochester's Brass Band"

Erik Jacobs was shooting pool at New Orleans' Old Point Bar a few years ago when he first heard a local favorite, Bonerama.

"I wanted to be in an orchestra, in a jazz band," says Jacobs, then a trombonist in the New Orleans-based Marine Band. "And I'm being told, 'You're playing an instrument that's a dying breed; it's not something 19-year-olds want to hear.'"

Yet here was Bonerama with four trombones, all right out front. Since then, "it's been a dream of mine," Jacobs says of trombone-powered jazz. "Now that I'm at Eastman, I have the material to do it."

The Po'Boys, New Orleans brass fueled by Eastman School of Music students, opens "Fifteen Fridays" this week at the Village Gate Square courtyard. The series will feature free music by local bands every Friday through the summer.

"When we started the band, we wanted it to be just a cover band, a band you could have some beers and listen to on the weekend," Jacobs says. But alongside jazz-funk Led Zeppelin, the Po'Boys serve up originals like "Garbage Platin'" as well. "I think it's a fine Eastman tradition to go out for plates," says Jacobs. "When they're stumbling home after drinking in a bar until 2 a.m., that might be a little what that feels like."

Likewise, "Blues in the ROC" honors another Rochester tradition: winter. "It's tough," says the Southern-bred Jacobs. "People go into prisons, they're locked into their homes four, five months. Man, it's easy to get the blues and feel down about everything."

But that's not Jacobs' feelings.

"I'm obviously not the average student," he says. He's 26, married with a family and lives off campus. "Eastman almost has its own bubble around itself. You can separate yourself and be just Eastman. We live in Irondequoit, and my neighbors are great.

"In a lot of ways, Rochester reminds me of New Orleans. The people are so proud of their heritage and culture. There are so many museums, so much music going on. People have their own way of talking.

"We're a bunch of Eastman guys, but we want to be Rochester's brass band. We want to develop a relationship with Rochester. We're New Orleans-inspired, but we want people to know we're a Rochester band."

For more, go to
- Rochester, NY: Democrat & Chronicle - Jeff Spevak

"Winter 2008/2009: Rock: Po'Boys Brass Band"

A lot of great things have happened when people just got fed up -- think Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus. While the Po'Boys Brass Band may not be sparking the next great civil rights movement, the four trombone players that make up the band were fed up with sitting in the back of orchestras and jazz bands. Now they put out enough soulful, groove-filled melodies at their live shows to get everyone out of their seats. The rhythm section (guitar, drums, and tuba) round out the band and only add to the oddity of the lineup and the fullness of the sound. - Rochester, NY: City Magazine - Brendan Giusti

"Summer 2008: One Brass Act: Meet the Po'Boys"

A number of years ago, Erik Jacobs was in the Marines, playing trombone in the Marine band. And it was starting to get old.

“I was just kind of fed up with being a trombone player,” says Jacobs.

But, stationed near New Orleans, he became acquainted with another way of playing and arranging. In the N’awlins sound, brass gets to shine. “Brass players weren’t relegated to the back of the band,” he said. They were front and center, the integral element of the tradition, the stars. Befriending the four-trombone brass band Bonearama fed his resolve to try something similar. “I just couldn’t find the right group of guys,” he said. “The chemistry has to be right.”

He found that chemistry after leaving the Marines in 2005 and moving to Rochester to attend the Eastman School of Music, where he met several like-minded musicians. They eventually coalesced into the Po’Boys Brass Band. Essentially, as they pithily put it on their MySpace page, the band was “founded by a bunch of trombone players that were fed up with sitting in the back of orchestras and jazz bands.”

Together only since October 2007, the seven-piece band of Eastman students and alumni — four trombones, tuba, guitar and drums — have quickly made a name for themselves as a versatile performing act, playing clubs, festivals, community events, schools, anywhere they can. They’ve recently signed a recording contract with Black Dog Records, the recording arm of the Rochester-based Black Dog Media. And their song “Garbage Platin’,” composed by Jacobs, won a “Best Group” grand prize in the recent Upstate New York Songwriting Contest.

Coming up on their docket: a set Saturday, July 12, during this weekend’s Big Rib Bar-B-Que and Blues Fest Blues Fest in Rochester. Next week, they’ll play the Canandaigua Music & Art Festival on Saturday, July 19. Key to the multiplicity of venues is the band’s versatility: They play the New Orleans sound inspired by people like Professor Longhair and Bonearama, and then they play some funk, some rock and R&B, some jazz, some blues. That includes their own compositions along with material from sources ranging from Edgar Winter to Led Zeppelin.

“I think what it boils down to, we all have various interests in music, and we all want to bring that to our audience,” Jacobs said.

He’s not kidding. Trombonist Nick Finzer is a co-founder of local funk-jazz band DubbleStuff, for instance — and tuba player TJ Ricer plays bass and sings in a Johnny Cash tribute band, Cash Back. And trombonist Evan Dobbins, a Hochstein dean, co-leads his own jazz band, the Rick Holland-Evan Dobbins Little Big Band. Other members include trombonist Chris VanHof, drummer Chris Teal and guitarist Mike Frederick.

With a mix of students and alumni, the band’s future is a bit of an open question. Finzer figures, as with other groups that have formed around Eastman, the members will follow their individual music paths, but “with the thought that we’ll still bring it together when we can.”

“I think we have a lot of fun,” Jacobs said. “We’re in it for the long haul.” - Canandaigua, NY: The Daily Messenger

"Autumn 2008: All Po'Boys Go to Heaven"

Trombone: it's not just for jazzers, symphony cats, or band geeks anymore. It's often bigger, badder, bolder, beautifuler, and more unavoidable than the electric guitar. And the way Rochester's The Po' Boys Brass Band uses, abuses, and infuses the instrument, it's straight up rock 'n' roll.

It all began in New Orleans. Erik Jacobs had been marching in the United States Marine Corps Band, puffing on the old trombone in the Louisiana heat. He was tired of being told what he could and couldn't do with the instrument. He was tired of seeing guitar players getting all the chicks. The boy was tired.

But he stumbled into a New Orleans bar one night and saw the light. It was Bonerama, a rock/funk/soul outfit fronted by four trombones. It made Phil Spector's "wall of sound" sound like a cardboard fence, and it knocked his block off. Jacobs was jacked; Jacobs was hooked.

"They were playing like Hendrix," he says. "It just blew me away that these trombone and tuba players were like rock stars."

Jacobs became a Bonerama student - a disciple, if you will - taking lessons and attending all the band's shows religiously.

"I promised myself that one day, if I ever could, I would make a New Orleans-style brass/funk/rock band," Jacobs says. "When I came to Eastman I met all these great guys and decided, it's time to do this."

Jacobs needed three more trombones for the front-line assault. Enter Evan Dobbins, Nick Finzer, and Chris Van Hof. TJ Ricer came in on sousaphone along with guitarist Mike Frederick, and drummer Chris Teal. All of them were serious musicians - Eastman students or alumni - who had to abandon certain maxims and creeds stressed by higher learning. They had to embrace some wrong.

"I guess there are things that I play now that are wrong," says Finzer.

But it sounds so right. Finzer runs his trombone through stomp boxes that bend and twist and distort his sound into a creamy stratospheric tapestry. It's like Dumbo on an acid trip. If Hendrix had played the trombone, it might've sounded like this.

But as quickly as the band whips out the 3-D psychedelia, the Po' Boys pulls off a second line march in all its woeful beauty, as if trudging down Rampart Street in the rain.

The difference in the two sides of the band's style is felt most by sousaphone player TJ Ricer, he of the cast iron diaphragm.

"It's really different as a tuba player," he says. "Because I'm playing the bass role, I never stop playing. So I end up circular breathing a lot, sneaking sniff breaths through my nose and dropping in little things you wouldn't ordinarily do."

According to Finzer, it's tough all around.

"It's much louder," he says. "There's a lot more endurance. You're not resting for 56 measures and then coming in on one note, like in classical. Or you're not pacing yourself with different dynamics as in jazz. There are some dynamics, but it's harder. It's balls to the wall most of the time."

Since its inception a year ago, The Po' Boys Brass Band has gone beyond its initial influence and mission.

"When we first started, there was this ‘Where are we headed?' kind of thing," Jacobs says. "It was just going to be a weekend for beers kind of thing. And as it kept progressing, and we started writing our own music and people were really digging what we were doing, we were like, ‘What the hell is this? This was supposed to be a joke."'

Rehearsal last Tuesday night at Black Dog Studios was a serious matter. The music is charted and discussed in detail. All Po' Boys speak fluent music-theory Italian as if they were opera singers. They work on a couple new tunes, including one that will ultimately feature a rapper over its funk-leaning-toward-hip-hop beat. But just when the music seems like it's getting a little too cerebral, the band breaks into Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Yup, the covers can come out of nowhere, but the band re-tools them until it owns them.

Finzer explains the criteria for considering a cover on the Po' Boy repertoire. "The less likely that we could play it, makes it more likely we'd want to play it," he says. "If someone's like, ‘That'd sound good on trombone...' nah, we're not going to do that."

The finishing touches are being put on the bands debut disc, "Bonebreak," as the band's fan base swells. The Po' Boys take it seriously now. The first gig? Not so much.

"I don't think the club - which shall remain nameless - took us seriously," Jacobs says. "I don't think we took us seriously. I don't know if the five people in the club took us seriously. Even now, any new club we walk in, people think we're crazy. And then we blast into Zeppelin or Edgar Winter or an original hardcore funk tune, and people are just instantly won over. They really dig it." - Rochester, NY: City Magazine

"Winter 2008/2009: Po'Boys Brass Band"

Eastman students, both current and alumni, have been ripping up stages across town since last October in the form of Po’ Boys Brass Band. The New Orleans-styled seven-piece are not just brassy as hell, but funky too. Reminding me of a jazz fest favorite, Bonerama, Po’ Boys bring a powerful modern touch to the genre, with an in-your-face wall of sound created by four fiery trombones. Keeping the groove hard and intact is guitar and drums, along with a cool sousaphone. Their new album, Bone Break, of mostly original material is the next step for this talented troupe.

Four of the Po’ Boys help out with writing credit on the record, with Erik Jacobs penning perhaps the best named song, “Garbage Platin’,” a track that won in the Upstate New York Songwriting Contest earlier this year. Growing up in New Orleans, Jacobs honed his trombone skills as part of the Marine Band New Orleans, touring the U.S. and Europe, and where the idea of Po’ Boys Brass originated. Moving up to Rochester, Jacobs and company fell together, and the rest is funkified history.

With help from the team at Blackdog Recording Studios including Robert Blackburn and Matthew D. Guarnare, Bone Break is a polished work that stands up to anything on the national scene, and may catapult these guys to a bigger stage. Certainly their intention, Po’ Boys have been building a Western New York presence, playing across the state, and finding a responsive crowd wherever they blow their horns. Surprisingly accessible for an all-instrumental outfit, Po’ Boys Brass Band have that something special to move beyond Rochester's bountiful jazz scene.

Po’ Boys Brass Band support their new release with shows at Water St. Music Hall on December 5th and at Abilene Bar & Lounge on December 12th. - Rochester, NY: Freetime Magazine - Michelle Picardo

"Autumn 2009: Trombones lead new style of band"

The Po’Boys Brass Band makes its debut in Williamsport at 10 p.m. Saturday at the Bullfrog Brewery. The seven-piece brass powerhouse is unlike any other funk rock band you’re likely to hear. With a four-trombone front (including electric bone), sousaphone for bassist, drums and guitar, the band gets its inspiration from the great tradition of funky New Orleans brass bands but with a modern twist of rock.

The New York-based band will be making its first trip to the area as part of their “Good-bye Summer, Hello Fall” tour.

“It was all out of the members’ comfort zone to try and create music — like even a little bit,” said co-founder Erik Jacobs in a recent interview. “To embrace New Orleans tailgate-style or street band-style is rough. It’s like you’re unlearning the years of proper technique you’ve been taught in conservatory.”

The band’s current lineup of musicians are all either alumni or current students at the Eastman School of Music, including a radio announcer, country singer, doctoral candidate, and even a dean.

The trombone players are definitely a draw, especially for people who don’t travel far from the generic concept of a band with a guitar, bass, and drums, but the sousaphone might be the most unusual instrument making up the lineup. The sousaphone is a type of tuba often employed in marching bands. The instrument is designed to be played while moving, with the design of the instrument fitting around the instrumentalist.

If you think maintaining a band of such instruments is tough, try getting it started.

The band originated when the two founding members, Jacobs and Chris Van Hof, met while both were attending the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester.

“The original idea for the band was to create a more traditional New Orleans-style brass band,” Jacobs said. “We wanted trumpets, trombones, saxophones, sousaphone, and auxiliary percussion. I was a trombonist and so I knew all the jazz trombonists at Eastman. I was also a big follower and fan of the New Orleans group Bonerama. They were the originators of the four-trombone front with sousaphone, guitar and drums for back line. They also were the inspiration for some of the classic rock covers we do.”

With the two original members now together and a plan to create their style and recruit members, the next step was merely finding enough trombonists and other instrumentalists required for the band.

The next to join was trombonist Charlie Halloran, a St. Louis native with a playing style deeply rooted in New Orleans-style jazz. Next to join was Nick Finzer, who is one of the most successful trombonists in the Rochester area.

One of the final and most difficult positions to fill was the sousaphone.

“Honestly, in approaching the individual musicians, it all just kind of fell in place naturally,” Jacobs said. “I met Chris Van Hof and we became friends first. We approached TJ (Ricer), to play sousaphone. Really, he was a very important part of the puzzle that ties us in with the New Orleans brass band tradition.”

With Ricer’s addition to the band, the founding members knew they would be able to bring a new element to their sound while retaining some of their original New Orleans-style roots.

New Orleans jazz — or Dixieland Jazz, or Hot Jazz — is a combination of brass band marches, French quadrilles, ragtime and blues and polyphonic improvisation. In this case it was achieved with trombones, but trumpets or cornets can be used. The brass section then plays over a rhythm section featuring either a piano, guitar or banjo, drums, and a double bass or tuba.

“The first time we played together was interesting,” Jacobs said. “We met at a classroom in Eastman after hours on a weekend and we read though some charts that were hastily-written for the rehearsal. The very next week we met again, recorded a four-song demo that scored us our first gig.”

After the demo and a couple of years touring around the area, the band got a big break when they won the Upstate NY Songwriting Contest in the summer of 2008 which led to a record deal and the release of their debut album, “Bone Break.” Then they got a really big break when they played the 2009 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival in Rochester, N.Y.

“We were told that our band was too young and we’d be foolish to even consider getting a spot on the star-studded lineup,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs and his band decided to take a chance and the result came in the form of a payment no one expected. At the band’s first show of the festival, the co-creator of the festival, John Nugent, happened to be sitting in the bar.

“He fell in love with us,” Jacobs said. “All of the sudden we found ourselves playing on the center stage of the festival right between Tower of Power and Taj Mahal. There were thousands of people there and the people were amazing. We were treated like stars and the crowd’s energy was unbelievable.”

With their newfound success, the band took its first extended road trip traveling outside its comfort zone.

“In the past we’ve primarily kept our performances close to the Rochester area,” Jacobs said. “This summer we ended up performing a lot across New York for summer festivals and some town concert series. We received such a great reception that we were inspired to try the road a little longer.”

The band added the Bullfrog show as part of its’ fall tour and plans to keep adding events, as long as the crowd keeps demanding them.

“I think we all saw that this music has the possibility of really reaching out to a large audience,” Jacobs said. “Our goal in the group is to make people get up and dance, have a good time, and forget about life for a couple hours. We’re looking forward to doing this in Williamsport." - Williamsport, PA: The Daily Item - Brett R. Crossley

"Autumn 2009: Brass Tactics"

Self-proclaimed band geeks, the members of the Po' Boys Brass Band have turned trombones and tubas cool with their original blend of New Orleans jazz, funk and rock.

Nick Finzer (trombone), Mike Frederick (guitar), TJ Ricer (sousaphone), Chris Teal (drums), Chris Van Hof (trombone) and Erik Jacobs (trombone) — have no qualms about their geekiness.

"I have a doctorate in tuba performance — that's about as geeky as it gets," Ricer says. Named for the classic New Orleans sandwich, the Po' Boys — performing at Abilene Bar and Lounge on Nov. 21 — is a group of current and former Eastman School of Music students with a love of brass instruments and what they all came to Eastman for — musical performance.

And they're looking to make enough money to buy themselves a sandwich or two. "It's a nod at our New Orleans roots, but we're also a bunch of poor boys as musicians," Jacobs says.

The brass force has been performing together for two years, and this summer marked the group's biggest gig yet — performing in front of 45,000 people at the Rochester International Jazz Festival.

"That was the moment that was the most rewarding, and I think the moment that I realized we have mass-market potential," Jacobs says. "Until that point, I was really trying to find our fan base, figuring out who we should market ourselves to."

The Po' Boys almost missed out on being booked for the festival because a long list of local bands were vying for spots on the bill. But during a gig last December at Abilene, John Nugent, the festival's co-producer and artistic director, was in the audience and the gig was theirs.

Although the band's collection of instruments typically is banished to the back of the orchestra, and not normally used to make rock music, the Po' Boys wanted to break all the rules. And for good reason: Most trombone players play classical or jazz music, Jacobs says, "but that was just another way I wasn't going to get any chicks, and no one was every going to think I was cool."

Jacobs, who marched with the United States Marine Corps Band in New Orleans, says he was inspired not only by the city's style of music, but also by its culture and network of musicians.

"In New Orleans, you'd walk into a bar and a guy comes in with a sousaphone case and he's like a rock star — everyone knows him, everyone loves him," he says.

After meeting at Eastman (except for Frederick and Teal, who grew up together in Spokane, Wash.), the musicians joined forces and combined their distinct lists of influences. "When you listen to the band, you hear a crazy, cross-pollination of everybody's styles," Jacobs says.

All with impressive résumés in their own right (the members have performed all over the world, including cruise ships and countless orchestras), many of the Po' Boys are also teachers and have their hands in other projects.

"Most people say that not doing anything is vacation or time off, but in the musicians' world, not doing anything means not working, unemployed, homeless," Jacobs says.

The band, which recently wrapped up its first tour, is looking to book bigger gigs at concert halls, and members would like to incorporate their passion for teaching into their appearances.

"I think just like any other band, we're still growing, and it's probably going to take a lot of years to really make this thing go somewhere," Jacobs says. "But ultimately, getting paid to do what we love would be the goal of the band." - Rochester, NY: Insider Magazine


"Intergalactic Mustache Parade"
Full-length studio recording
Released March 2011

"Bone Break"
Debut Album, Full Length LP
Recorded live at the Village Gate, Rochester, NY
Released 2008



Founded by a bunch of trombone players that were fed up with sitting in the back of orchestras and jazz bands, the Po’Boys Brass Band is a 7-piece power house of funk, jazz, and ROCK.

The four-trombone front line produces a sonic explosion that breaks all preconceived notions of the trombones capabilities. Supporting the trombone weight is a chops-to-spare backline of guitar, drums, and sousaphone… That’s right, a funky old sousaphone. The band plays original charts as well as some tasty covers, conjuring up anything from Stevie Wonder and Tower of Power to Led Zeppelin and Edgar Winter. The band’s close ties to the great city of New Orleans guides the group spiritually, owing a lot of their sound concepts to the Rebirth Brass Band, Bonerama, the Dirty Dozen, Professor Longhair, The Meters, Dr. John, and many more. The band’s lineup of musicians consists of an all-star cast of characters that are each alumni of the Eastman School of Music, including a radio announcer, country singer, professor, and a doctor (of tuba that is).

It's members' different backgrounds are what make the PBBB such a unique listening experience. Rochester’s City Magazine said: “It’s like Dumbo on an acid trip. If Hendrix had played the trombone, it might’ve sounded like this.” Whether tearing into some vintage N’Awlins funk or shredding through an original rock-anthem, the ‘Boys never leave anyone disappointed, making one critic quip “…the Boys' meaty four-trombone wall of sound and freight-train groove melted my cynicism away.”

The band’s current lineup would be familiar to anybody who knows and loves the great funky brass band tradition of New Orleans. Although the band’s choice of instruments might seem odd even for such a genre (with four trombones and not a trumpet or sax in sight), the band borrowed the idea from brass-funk-rock pioneers Bonerama. Early on it was apparent that although the instrumentation and original conception was something out of New Orleans, the band’s mixture of 7 individuals all with stark contrasting musical backgrounds soon saw the band finding its own unique sound.

The PBBB found success early on, winning the Upstate NY Songwriting Contest in 2008 for Best Song with their Rochester tribute, Garbage Platin’. Early success led to recording their first album, Bone Break, at the Village Gate in summer 2008, followed by tours throughout the northeast. In 2009, the band launched their Education Outreach Program, aimed at teaching entrepreneurship skills to music students of all ages. They’ve given performance lectures and workshops at Penn State, Ithaca College, the Eastman School of Music, and numerous middle school and high schools throughout the northeast. They’re also favorites at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, having played in 2009, 2010, and 2011 on the Gibbs Street stage.

The band released its newest album, Intergalactic Mustache Parade, in March 2011. The title track is written by Chris Van Hof (1/4 of the band's trombone section), and pays homage to a major PBBB musical influence: Frank Zappa. The overall weirdness of the track along with the Zappa-inspired album artwork serves as the conceptual glue, holding together an album with as many ingredient as a good pot of New Orleans gumbo.

Intergalactic Mustache Parade demonstrates just how far the band has grown musically. In addition to the funk and rock (they even cover Kansas’ Carry On Wayward Son with full arena-rock bravado), you’ll find a dash of southern gospel, some ska and reggae for good measure, and even some modern jazz. Primarily an instrumental band, the group dabbles with vocals in their first two singles. Groovebone features Erik Jacobs throwing down some lines while the band ditty-bops through funk and hard rock riffs with ease. Sellout features former American Idol contestant and lead singer of Rochester band Tinted Image, Alyssa Coco. The pop single marks a major contrast from the rest of the album, and shows the b