Chicago’s seven-member LowDown Brass Band combines their love of the traditional New Orleans brass band sound with jazz, hip-hop, funk, and soul influences. With a generous amount of positive energy, musical talent and poignant lyrics, a Lowdown Brass Band performance is one you will not soon forget.
LowDown is about to drop their seventh full-length album “$itizens of the World” this spring and the funky, disco-tinged single “Call Me” is out now to give listeners a taste of what’s to come.
We spoke with MC Billa Camp and trumpeter and singer Shane Jonas in advance of their show at the Mangy Moose on Saturday, April 1.
The following interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. This conversation was recorded on Wednesday, March 29.
JACK CATLIN/KHOL: You guys have a foundation in traditional New Orleans brass, but you weave a bunch of different styles into the band’s sound. Hip-hop, jazz, funk, soul, and reggae are all represented throughout your catalog. Where did that “melting pot” direction come from and how has that evolved over the years?
SHANE JONAS: Well, it’s been a pretty natural evolution. This band tours a lot. We’re on the road a lot, and just being on the road and the reception that we receive when we play certain kinds of music helped mold the ways we could touch the audience. So there are guys in this band who have played every genre of music you can think of. Some of the guys are in some of the great reggae bands in Chicago, some of the great ska bands in Chicago. Billa and Lance used to have a live hip-hop band in Chicago back in the day. I used to play in a funk fusion band called Spare Parts. We’ve got a guy who travels around the world in an avant-garde jazz group playing the sousaphone. We just kind of have all these genres of music inside of us. And as artists, we’re always trying to be as honest as we can about the music that we write, and it just kind of just comes out naturally.
KHOL: You guys always seem to exude positive energy and have really strong and positive messages in your songs. Can you touch on the importance of having those messages in your music and maybe what you hope an audience gets out of a Lowdown Brass Band experience, whether that be listening on their own or in the crowd at an “LDB” show?
JONAS: The band has always been about positivity and fun and good energy, but to be honest, once the pandemic happened, we got a little bit more serious about having substance with what we were saying in our vocals. It just felt like it was a time in which the world really needed that, where we needed that as people. And so it comes from a very genuine place because the lyrics that we’ve been writing in the last few albums really mean something to us personally as well.
It’s not just trying to write a feel-good song that you hope somebody likes. We’re really trying to write really great music that would push the brass band genre just a little bit further, just like something you might bump in your car on a regular hip-hop station. We want people to have access to this kind of music and also to the messages that we’re putting out there. You know, pass that good energy on. That’s actually something that we end every single live show with. And what I hope that people receive when they come to a live music show is that they just saw something incredible from a musicianship standpoint, but that they also shared in a community of love and positivity.
Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with Lowdown Brass Band.
Tickets can be found online through the Mangy Moose.