By ERIC SCHELKOPF
On its debut full-length album, "Get Your Four Star On!," Chicago group Four Star Brass Band gives listeners a glimpse of the excitement it creates on stage.
Four Star Brass Band will celebrate the release of the album with a show June 5 at Martyrs,' 3855 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Also on the bill are The People Brothers Band and Good God Y'all.
The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $8, available at www.martyrslive.com. Four Star Brass Band also will perform June 12 at the New Orleans North Festival in Joliet. Tickets are available by going to http://jolietchamber.com/neworleans.
I had the chance to talk to Four Star Brass Band founder "Tuba Dave" Ernsthausen about the new album.
Our goal in making this album, was to produce a quality, full length album that fans could take home to enjoy. I believe we have met this goal, the album looks great, sounds great, and I met a lot of really cool people along the way.
Q - What do you think the other musicians on the album bring to the table?
We have a great group of musicians that have recorded this album. Many of them have backgrounds in jazz, blues, and brass band.
Each player brings a unique charisma and variety of musical experience. We all share a love for New Orleans' Style Brass Band.
Q - What drew you to the tuba in the first place and what do you like about the instrument? Who or what are your biggest musical inspirations and how have they impacted your music?
I love that the tuba is the biggest instrument in the band! When I was young, and just discovering music, I thought that the tuba was the loudest.
I'd come to realize that was not true, but I have just felt a special connection with this instrument and playing bass lines.
The first time I saw a brass band in New Orleans, I knew I wanted to do what they do. Since the tuba doesn't fit into traditional jazz music, I decided I wanted to start my own brass band in Chicago.
I'm inspired by the brass bands of New Orleans like Rebirth Brass Band and Tuba Phil, and Midwestern brass band Mama Digdowns and Erik Jacobson. We regularly play covers of these bands and aspire to have their popularity!
Q - Brass bands are more associated with New Orleans, not Chicago. What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you see your band fitting into it? Do you think it is easier to lead a brass band in Chicago than in New Orleans?
I see so many bands in Chicago trying to make it and find their niche. We are definitely a niche sound, but often times people don't realize that we are a party band.
I have often heard Chicagoans thinking we are going to be a jazz style or marching band style or just instrumental, and I love to blow them away with our fun loving, upbeat, party style! We can be mobile or play on a stage, we can have a large 10 piece group, or a smaller, more intimate 4-5 piece group, and we love to Second Line!
I accept the challenge as a band leader to educate potential new fans on this style of music. Some people aren't initially interested because it's not all rock or all radio cover songs, but it's a mix of traditional brass band, jazz, funk, and sometimes some rock!
Q - Do you have any favorite venues to play in Chicago?
We have partnered with the Chicago Chapter of the Who Dat Nation fan club, playing New Orleans Saints games and Crawfish and Shrimp Boils at Frontier Chicago.
It is always a party with these folks and it feels like a little bit of NOLA in Chicago! Martyrs and the Honky Tonk are also a personal favorite!
Q - What are the band's short-term and long-term goals?
In the short term, we'd love to gain new fans and welcome them to be a part of this awesome party atmosphere and NOLA style fun! Long-term goals, we'd love to continue to master our craft, produce an all original full length album, and become recognized as being a leading force in bringing this style of music to the Chicago music scene.