Out 6th May, “Milwaukee Fat” unveils two stunning new original songs from the Hot 8 Brass Band. This is the first single to be lifted from ‘Tombstone’, their upcoming third LP and the sister album to November 2012’s ‘The Life & Times Of…’ which gained heavy radio play and four and five star reviews across the board including The Observer, MOJO, Metro, Songlines and The Big Issue.
This release comes hot on the heels of a three week sold-out tour of the UK and Ireland in which the purveyors of edgy, joyful New Orleans brass, treated gleeful audiences to the first live performances of recent hits such as “Steamin’ Blues” and the renowned “Ghost Town” cover. Having always attracted press attention for their music and the story behind it, on this visit Hot 8’s ever-widening appeal led to their most diverse slew of media appearances yet, with sessions for Guardian Music (online early April), Cerys Matthews (BBC 6Music), BBC 1Xtra Breakfast, Loose Ends (BBC R4), Monocle 24, BBC World Service; and feature interviews for Craig Charles (BBC 6Music) and The Sunday Times.
In counterpoint to the straight up party side of the band showcased on ‘The Life & Times Of…’, ‘Tombstone’ is thematically a more sombre and emotional record, presenting another chapter in the history of the Hot 8 Brass Band, a new window onto the lives, the friendships, the heartbreaks, and the culture of New Orleans brass music, its roots, and its players. Featuring all original material, the majority of the songs are personal dedications in memory of the Hot 8 members, and other musicians and friends, who have passed away.
The A-side on this single is one such cut, dedicated to Kerwin James, who went by the nickname “Milwaukee Fat”; the tuba player from fellow New Orleans group the New Birth Brass Band, Kerwin was a renowned musician and a dear friend and inspiration to Hot 8. He died suddenly in 2006, in Houston, TX, having been evacuated there post-Hurricane Katrina. The track that bears his name pulsates with energy and feeling and life, a symmetry emerging as the lead hook, charged vocals and dynamic rhythms wind out into a middle break of expressive and playful horn solos before ramping back up into the outro. A Radio Edit on the promo distils this sonic odyssey into sub-four minutes.
The B-side, “Hot 8 Shit”, is one of the pure and simple party tunes that also grace the album: new, original Hot 8 jams that remind us – and the band – of the reasons why the music is worth it all, setting the scene for where the band are at today, and where they are carrying the spirit next. This raucous, full vocal track updates the age-old folk tradition of the drinking song on a Big Easy hip hop tip, the band riffing on the idea of their music as intoxicating liquor, themselves and the crowd unable to resist uncorking the bottle. The rapper, Bossman Superior, is a contemporary hip hop artist and producer in Hot 8’s community, whom they introduce into the band for the first time on record.