Troy Andrews is uncomfortable. On a call from Aspen, Colorado, where the elevation nears 8,000 feet, Andrews admitted that he has difficulty playing at high altitudes. The limited moisture and oxygen available in the environment are hurdles faced by many musicians.
Andrews is a native of New Orleans, where more than half of the city is at or below sea level.
“I’ve just been drinking a lot of water, and there’s not much I can do onstage,” said the brass player known as Trombone Shorty. “You go through ups and downs. Sometimes I feel like I’m OK, and then some other times I feel like I’m going to pass out, but we keep going.”
It’s an instant metaphor for the changing nature of life. And Andrews’ resilience was nurtured in his home city, which is defiantly guarding its culture in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and a subsequent wave of gentrification.Get the news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our morning, afternoon and evening newsletters
“I think the city is changing,” said Andrews, who will perform in Columbus with his band, Orleans Avenue, on Sunday as part of the WonderBus Music & Arts Festival at the Lawn at CAS. “The culture, the food, the things that I grew up doing — I don’t think that’s in danger. And I’ll try my best to continue to influence the youngsters so they can keep that culture alive.”
Growing up in the Treme neighborhood, Andrews was immersed in traditional New Orleans music, which laid the foundation for his own style, a collection of jazz, funk, hip-hop, rock and more. In addition to his own output, including the excellent 2017 album “Parking Lot Symphony,” Andrews is known for his work with other artists.
His diverse group of collaborators includes musicians from Lenny Kravitz and the Foo Fighters to Mark Ronson and Eric Clapton. Although he hasn’t made a wish list of future musical partners, he lets a couple of names slip.
“I love Nine Inch Nails and John Mayer,” he said.
Andrews currently is touring with singer-songwriter Ben Harper, who also will appear at WonderBus.
“For my band, it’s never about an intersection of music,” Andrews said of selecting tour mates. “It’s always just about if it’s going to be a great time and how can we put it onstage and bring different audiences together.”
Andrews spends more time on the road than in the studio, and he hasn’t yet felt the itch to create a follow-up to “Parking Lot Symphony.”
“I spent some time making some hip-hop beats on my computer for fun, just getting some ideas out there,” he said. “But I haven't really been in a true recording mode. … That could change tonight. I can get inspiration from the show, or I can hear something going into the grocery store.”
Andrews said people label him an ambassador for New Orleans music, and it’s a mission he takes seriously. However, when it comes to influencing the next generation, he stresses inspiration over duplication.
“Hopefully, in 50 years, there will be some kids that’ll use my music as a foundation but not sound like me,” he said. “Every one of us in New Orleans, from tap dancers to horn players to football players, we all take pride in being able to represent the city.”
For Andrews, that means navigating the joys and challenges in both the city and in life but not dwelling in sadness.
“Music is a very happy place for me,” he said. “That's why I try to make fun music, dance music, and just have a great time. We all go through things personally, and music should be an escape.”