Emerging from Asheville, North Carolina, Empire Strikes Brass is a New Orleans style brass band that is determined to bring funk, rock, and a lot of energy to city streets and beyond. They’ve ushered dancing crowds from venue to venue at Asheville’s LAAFF Festival, and led people to the Orange Peel for the most recent Galactic concert. But, Empire Strikes Brass is not just a street band. They’ll amp up for stage shows, wedding, pub crawl, funeral, or festivals.
Empire Strikes Brass was formed in April of 2012 as the first and only second line brass band in Asheville. They are a gumbo of musicians from bands such as the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Firecracker Jazz Band, Common Foundation, and Kung Fu Dynamite, just to name a few. ESB has a core group that consists of saxophonist, Paul Juhl; sousaphone, Henry Westmoreland; trumpet, Jay Widenhouse; drums, Jay Good; saxophone, vocals, Debrissa McKinney; trombone, Alex Kelly: trombone, JP Furnas; guitar, Kelly Hannah; keys, Sean Donnelly, but special guests are never out of the question.
While the band is original to the Blue Ridge Mountains, they are influenced by the colorful culture and music of New Orleans, and by bands like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Galactic, and Dr. John. When they march through downtown Asheville, their funky sound spontaneously pulls people into the streets to join the dancing and musical celebration that Empire Strikes Brass creates.