The New Orleans-based Hot 8 Brass Band draws on the traditional jazz heritage of its hometown, alongside more modern styles, including elements of funk, hip hop, rap, and its local variation, “bounce”. Its rhythms are loose-limbed and hard-hitting, with most tracks featuring a sousaphone prominently. This frequently sets up and maintains short rhythmic and melodic grooves that dominate with rippling authority through the band’s recordings.
The collective earned a win in the 64th Annual Grammy Awards 2022 for their feature on Jon Batiste’s Album of The Year, We Are, following the nomination of The Life & Times Of… for Best Regional Roots Album in 2013.
Transcending genres and trends, Hot 8 have performed and collaborated with the likes of Jon Batiste, Blind Boys of Alabama, Basement Jaxx and Alice Russell, and provided live support for Mos Def, Lauryn Hill and Mary J Blige. Since forming they have established a decade-long affiliation with actor/BBC 6 Music DJ Craig Charles, among other tastemakers, DJs and journalists worldwide. After a festive appearance Live at Maida Vale for Lauren Laverne (BBC 6 Music), the Hot 8 Brass Band performed for Jools Holland’s annual Hootenanny on BBC Two to welcome in 2019. Later that year, after taking to the stage at the BRIT awards in February, Hot 8 Brass Band were invited on the European leg of George Ezra’s tour.
With multiple sell-out shows at London’s Roundhouse and Brighton’s Dome, Hot 8 continues to share their acclaimed releases. Albums such as Vicennial…, On The Spot and Take Cover, are brought to the stage, honouring their city’s musical traditions, while forging their own powerful legacy. Mixing an old-school street brass approach with funkier currents and hip-hop vocals, Hot 8’s magnificent originals are juxtaposed with fresh versions of songs by Snoop Dogg, Stevie Wonder, The Specials and of course their anthemic take on Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing”.
The recent passing of Bennie Pete, the beloved co-founder and sousaphone player for the outfit, was honored in true New Orleans fashion with ‘The Bossman Tour 2023’, paying tribute to his “galvanizing force” as a “leader, teacher and mentor”. Fellow bandmates add that “Bennie was an inspiration to [the] band and to many other musicians, and the entire musical and cultural community.”. The dates celebrated the late Bennie’s “greatest wish.. that New Orleans culture lives on for future generations”. This parade followed the success of the Mardi Gras 2020 and ‘Take Cover’ 2019 tours.
The story of the Hot 8 Brass Band has been one of tragedy and triumph. Over the years the Hot 8’s ranks have been decimated by the tragic deaths of four original members due to street violence and illness, as well as the devastating loss of founding member Bennie Pete in 2021 due to complications from sarcoidosis and Covid-19.
The devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was a life-altering turning point – during which 80% of New Orleans flooded, untold numbers of inhabitants died and long-term displacement and misery affected hundreds of thousands – and raised real concerns about the survival of the city and its indigenous cultural traditions. After being evacuated, displaced and scattered across the country, the band regrouped and began touring the United States to encourage and support other displaced Katrina victims and promote New Orleans’ recovery.
Hot 8’s incredible tale, which comes across in their life-affirming and powerful music, has also previously featured in Spike Lee’s two New Orleans documentaries, When The Levees Broke and The Creek Don’t Rise, and David Simon’s HBO series Treme (in which the band played themselves), to add to extensive features across the world’s media.