To say that acclaimed New Orleans street band Tuba Skinny has grown steadily popular over the past decade would be an immense understatement. Over the years Tuba Skinny has attracted a wide variety of fans with the strength of their musicianship and the scope of their jazz and American roots music catalog. However, following the release of their 2020 compilation album Quarantine Album: Unreleased B-Sides and their collaboration with Maria Muldaur on the 2021 album Let’s Get Happy Together, it became apparent that it was time for Tuba Skinny to release a record of their own songs.
After years of playing mostly other artist’s songs, Tuba Skinny has decided to fulfill a long-time dream with the release of Magnolia Stroll, their first album of all-original tunes. Set to be released on May 6, 2022, Magnolia Stroll will feature compositions from band members Erika Lewis, Shaye Cohn, Robin Rapuzzi, Barnabus Jones, Craig Flory, and Max Bien-Kahn.
Magnolia Stroll is an ode to all the musicians, alive and dead who have nurtured and inspired them along their journey, as well as to the city of New Orleans and the neighborhoods that took them under their wings and continue to do so.
Despite a general lack of interest in social media and a limited release of their music online, they’ve amassed an enthusiastic digital following. Their fans’ (young and old, neophytes and niche-enthusiasts) tireless support have landed Tuba Skinny the title of world-interpreters of traditional jazz, jug band music, spirituals, country blues, string band music, ragtime, and New Orleans R&B. A quick YouTube search would reflect more than 500 Tuba Skinny videos their fans have posted, with many of them showing over 100,000 views. Their fans have crowd-sourced a digital presence for the band. In an era of self-made internet fame this stands as a testament to the band’s genuine appeal.
In anticipation of Magnolia Stroll, Tuba Skinny will begin their voyage around the world with a five-night stint at the International Jazz Festival in Bern, Switzerland on Apr. 12.
They will then head back to the United States later in the month to perform at the New Orleans French Quarter Festival, beginning their Spring/Summer tour. No matter how well-known they’ve become or how high-profile their gigs have gotten, Tuba Skinny has always returned to the streets. “We continue to play the street because it’s a public space,” says Shaye. “We get to play for everyone: old, young, rich, poor, people from all walks of life. It keeps things interesting because it’s organic and unpredictable.” This commitment to their roots, perhaps above all else, is what has led to their sustaining strength and widespread popularity.