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  • Writer's pictureJAM

Back Alley Brass Band: 8 Horns and a Drummer

With their self-titled Band Camp release, and several live gigs booked, the Back Alley Brass Band is ready to kick this thing off . . . again. As trombonist Matt Fillingham put it in a recent edition of The Kansas City Star, and a story about one of those gigs, Downtown Days in Lee’s Summit, MO “It’s a great way to kick off what is to be our year — again,” said Fillingham.

The Back Alley Brass Band formed in 2019. Just in time for the Pandemic. They were ready, practicing regularly and then everything shut down. They didn’t practice for months, and now more than 2 years later the 9-piece Kansas City band is on the move.

They are a self-described, ‘party band’ that loves the sound of New Orleans. But that’s not what this band is about. They formed the band to represent Kansas City, not New Orleans, they simply wanted to do that with a brass band, and why not?

KC has had several brass bands over the years, and there are photos of brass bands marching in Tom Prendergast’s many parades a hundred years ago. Recently, there was the brass band from YJ’s snack shop. And drummer Mike Harvey who ran the nightclub called ‘the Tuba’ in the Café Gratitude location, thirty years ago had a funky brass band that marched in parades and carried on, just like a brass band.

“The band started with a breakfast at Cracker Barrel in Olathe,” said trumpeter Justin Crossman. “Couple of my buddies I went to school with at Pittsburgh State University said we had to meet up and talk about a band. After that breakfast, we knew that we had to make this happen.” So, they got after it. They found the players and setup rehearsals, and 3 years later here we are. “Justin and I were co-workers and I said 'of course’ when he asked me to play,” (in the band) said lower brass guy Xan Perkins. “I was so excited to play sousaphone again. I really wanted to dive into that New Orleans brass jazz tradition.”

What's the greatest part of being involved in this Kansas City jazz scene?

“It's all about recognizing that there are giants in Kansas City.” Said Crossman, “For example, at our album release party, we had the amazing performer, trombonist Trevor Turla open for us.” Turla jammed with them on a couple of songs. Kadesh Flow was also on a couple of songs. Adam Bender's dad, saxophonist Carl Bender was in the house, and that was good enough for the brass band. “It's knowing that at any given time we can pull in great musicians and play together.” Added Xan, “It's all about making music and having fun in the moment.”

Justin Crossman – lead trumpet

Tom Lawlor - trumpet

Adam Bender – tenor saxophone

Eric Rothmier – alto saxophone

Matt Hubbel, Chacko Finn, and Matt Fillingham – trombones

Xan Perkins – sousaphone, and drummer Daniel McDill

The Back Alley Brass Band / Full Joe Dimino Interview:

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