Hot 8 Brass Band: Tragedies and triumph

Published 3:45 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The New Orleans natives of the Hot 8 Brass Band, appearing at Tryon Fine Arts Center on Friday, November 19 at 8 p.m., are not just well-known musicians who have traveled around the world, but fighters whose music has been strongly affected by natural disaster as well as personal tragedy.

Founded by Bennie Pete, Jerome Jones, and Harry Cook in 1995, the band has faced the disaster of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 as well as the death of four of its band members due to street violence. In the wake of the storm, like many New Orleans residents, they were displaced to different cities but managed to return home and provide a service through the harmonious sounds of New Orleans jazz by bringing music to evacuee shelters, temporary trailer parks, and communities that provided temporary housing to displaced families.

Band leader Bennie Pete describes the setbacks that the band has faced by saying, Its bittersweet, with a little more opportunity between the bitter and the sweetyou want to work, because you want to play for your home crowd. It just makes you want to do your own thing, free performances for the people.

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Current band members include: Bennie Pete (tuba), Terrell Batiste (trumpet), Harry Cook (bass drum), Corey Peyton (trombone), Samuel Cyrus (snare drum), Raymond Williams (trumpet), Gregory Veals (trombone) and Julian Gosin (trumpet). These young men have found the courageous spirit needed to continue and emerge from tragic events to become one of the most sought-after street bands in the country.

Though the Hot 8 Brass Band found most of its national fame after Hurricane Katrina, the musicians still remember those fallen band members: Demond Bart Dorsey (trombone), Jacob Johnson (trumpet), Joseph Williams (trombone) and Dinerral Shavers (snare drum).

To hear them in concert, call the Tryon Fine Arts Center box office at 828-859-8322, Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, go to