Idyllwild Music Festival to feature a little New Orleans flavor with Euphoria Brass Band

Published on April 6th, 2021

By Jim Dail

Tucked away in the beautiful forest of Idyllwild, the crowds will gather with one thing on their minds: Fun. On the menu is 22nd annual Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines, the annual music festival that takes place August 15-16.

The outdoor music festival, which takes place at the Idyllwild Arts Academy, features more than 24 bands on three stages with jazz, R&B and blues, vendors selling their wares, food and fun.

One of the bands that will be thrilling the crowd is the Euphoria Brass Band, the San-Diego based band that is all about the New Orleans brass band style, with a little West Coast flair thrown in for good measure.

“This will be our third year to play the festival and last year they came up with suggestion of doing a second-line traditional New Orleans parade at the beginning on Saturday at 10 am to bring people down into the venue in true new Orleans-style,” said bass drummer Drew Miller. “Then we land at the French Quarter stage and do a set there.”

The second line refers to the tradition of a second group of people in a parade who follow the band because they want to enjoy the music.

“We will close out the main stage in the afternoon,” he said. “We have done great events in Idyllwild, and we really love the city. It really resonates with us so any excuse we have to get up there is much anticipated.”

The San Diego-based band is high energy, playing New Orleans traditional music with a little funk, inspired by original members who were from New Orleans.

“I have a jazz show that is New Orleans music, and Ron Bocian, our snare drummer, heard the program,” he said. “He had lived in New Orleans for 18 years and had moved out there, and he thought it was an interesting show and it reminded him of back home and the radio stations he used to listen to.”

A chat over coffee and sharing CDs of bands led to a connection.

“He said it would be neat to form a brass band out here and a few months later it came to fruition,” he said.

As for Miller, he had always dabbled in percussion.

“Mainly I’d played hand percussion like bongos and a drum set in high school,” he said. “Over the last 20 years I’ve listened to New Orleans music because I had to know it to be a radio host. When we got together we discovered we have pretty good chemistry.”

Considering they are providing the rhythm, that’s pretty important.

“You have two people playing one rhythm and that can be tricky,” he said. “But after four and a half years doing it, it really gels.”

Their music is a combination of originals, classics and covers of music outside of the genre.

“Our model since day one is to look at the New Orleans bands, and in first couple years we certainly seemed to pattern ourselves to a lot of the New Orleans bands and styles,” he said. “JP Balmat [baritone and alto sex] writes a lot of our music and he is like a machine. He just brought in five new songs to our last rehearsal. So it started with a New Orleans brass sound, but now it is a West Coast plus New Orleans sound.”

That includes interesting covers.

“For example, we do Sublime’s ‘What I Got,’” he said. “It is not at all a jazz song. But that’s an example of how we are establishing ourselves outside just one genre. It all has a New Orleans feel though.”

And this festival is also important because of the range of ages and entertainment.

“There are a lot of different generations from the get go,” he said. “We have people coming out having a ball from ages 4-54 to grandparents and everyone in between. It’s exciting not knowing who is going to react to this. It invigorates you.”

That’s also where the energy comes in.

“Of course, we can move while we play,” he said. “We seem to be very popular just because we can move and get from one place to another playing music. Folks get a kick out of what we are doing.”


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