The Spotted Cat

Trombone Battle Of The Century

Young musicians on Frenchmen Street have unique opportunities to be inspired by their musical heroes on an up close and personal level. Jeremy Phipps, of the contemporary band People Museum, grew up going to Frenchmen Street and was able to witness some incredible virtuosic artistry even before he was old enough to get into the venues. Such as this mind-blowing event, observed from the sidewalk outside the Spotted Cat…

The Spotted Cat, open since 2001, hosts a variety of modern and traditional jazz, brass bands and brass/funk fusion. When Jeremy was a teenager he had his own brass band, and although they were too young to get into the Cat, they’d always stand outside and listen.

Jeremy says: “When we first started playing out there, I was still not legal to go inside the bars… so must have been around 2009. Shamarr Allen and this dude, we call him Struts, but his real name's Steven Walker, used to play at Spotted Cat. Every week, we would go and sit outside the window at Spotted Cat. Me and Ashton [Hines, trumpet player] and my brother, Joshua. We would just watch." 

Jeremy, Ashton and Joshua are just 3 of countless young musicians who were able to grow up on Frenchmen St., hearing the musicians they admired, meeting future bandmates, and experiencing the rhythm of weekly gigs. He rattles off name after name of musicians who are famous (locally and beyond) and have left indelible marks on the music of New Orleans

“I remember one night, I had to be 17 or something, and I saw Steven Walker and Delfeayo Marsalis [a son of another iconic local musical family] onstage. At the time, it was  like, ‘Delfeayo Marsalis! Struts! On the same stage!’

It was the trombone battle of the century. Still to this day, I don't know if I've seen playing on that level. Just going at it”

At that time, the stage was on the opposite side from where it is today, and it was even smaller than the current, very small, stage. It was barely even big enough to fit 2 trombones at all, we can imagine them bursting physically and musically off the stage. While local audience members may have known what they were witnessing, any tourists who happened to be in the audience that night would likely have had no idea what a special moment they stumbled into.



623 Frenchmen Street