AN electrifying ensemble of instrumentalists and performers from the US will be sharing their upbeat New Orleans sound around the kingdom this month.
The eight-membered brass band, which generally consists of brass instruments and a percussion section, is made up of Winston Turner, Dwayne Sherman, Joshua Hawkins, Keith Tillman, Myron Thomas, Robin Clabby, Tannon Williams and Donald Magee Jr ... a group that is excited to spread the music they all grew up to and love.
“We are thrilled to be coming to Bahrain,” said Winston, who is on lead trombone and started the Brass-A-Holics with long-time friend and lead trumpeter Tannon.
Brought to Bahrain by the US Embassy, the group will bring jazz, funk and fun to schools and public places from March 13 to 16 as part of the Spring of Culture Festival.
“We are excited that the embassy is bringing us to Bahrain and giving us this opportunity,” said Winston.
“US Ambassador Steven Bondy is a jazz aficionado and it is due to his passion for music and his love for promoting people-to-people connections that this programme was made possible.
“This is an exciting chance to bring our two countries together and to highlight cultural exchanges.
“We hope to learn from Bahrain culture as well as share ours. Supporting culture is critical and respecting music is the base line to maintain the integrity and genuine support of the sounds coming out of New Orleans as well as our local musicians, artists and cultural bearers.”
The group will be performing for three days, engaging with schools and the Interior Ministry’s Police Band.
The Spring of Culture showcase will be on March 14 at the Cultural Hall at 8pm. It is free for all with limited seating. Bahraini musician Esraa Janahi will also perform alongside the troupe.
“We can go on for hours, but our performance at the Spring of Culture will be for about an hour,” said Tannon, who came up with the band’s name from a high school inspiration.
“The audience can expect energy, fun and nonstop entertainment when we perform. Brass-A-Holics also maintains the tradition of showing off footwork and unique style as we move to the music.
“We will also break the mould of a one-dimensional stage by showing people who we are beyond the music; bringing us close and connecting in the experience of humanity.”
The group first hit the music scene in New Orleans in 2010 with Winston and Tannon who grew up in marching bands that guided them to brass band culture. Despite being from rival high schools, they found a way to create a musical bond like no other. The classically-trained musicians began performing together with the Junior PinStripe brass band and took their musicianship in the marching band arena to the next level.
With the assistance of bassist Joshua, whom Winston met at St Augustine High School during after-school mentoring, they were able to add new members to the band such as Keith on keys.
Brass-A-Holics found creative ways to continue their musical bond whenever the opportunity was available with Dwayne on percussion, and even though Robin the saxophonist had moved to the East Coast.
Winston created a band with the concept of mashing DC’s Go-Go vibe and New Orleans’ own Bounce sound from the early days of TT Tucker, DJ Jimi, Warren Mayes, Gregory D’, Everlasting Hitman and more.
The final addition and perfect complement to complete the sound is the vocals of Emeka ‘Mecca Notes’ with his first official gig in 2019.
Winston decided to add vocals to set the band’s sound apart. “Every time I watched a documentary about the bands I love, like Journey – the vocalist is always the missing piece,” he said.
Winston’s love for music started as a young boy in the Magnolia projects.
“An elder would open her door, allowing the sounds of The O’Jays, Trouble Funk, Chuck Brown, and other 70s and 80s artists to bring joy to the community during Saturday morning cleaning rituals, playing in the courtyard and porch-sitting. “The sounds pleased the ears of many on 2826 Willow Street, but it did something more for me, it touched my heart.”
Other members of the band drew from comparable inspirations; including New Orleans’ vibrant musical scene ... that people in the kingdom will come to hear and love and the Brass-A-Holics can’t wait to share.
For details on timings and more, follow @springofculture, @usembassybahrain and @brassaholics on Instagram.