Tuba Skinny: Old timey blues and jazz street act from New Orleans

Last week, I caught Tuba Skinny opening for the Dresden Dolls in New Orleans -- Amanda Palmer heard them busking in the French Quarter and invited them out to the show. I got both of their CDs and have been enjoying the hell out of them ever since: this is old timey blues and jazz with an emphasis on standards, arranged with a prominent horn section (as the name implies) and mostly sung by Erika Lewis, who belts it out like Mae West. The band was adorable -- extras from The Little Rascals, and they were as fine to hear live as they are on their CDs, Six Feet Down and Tuba Skinny. The former contains an original track, also called "Six Feet Down," credited to Erika Lewis, that is a really fine song that sounds as good as any of the tried-and-true standards like "At the Jazz Band Ball" and "Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None of My Jelly Roll" that fill out the rest of the disc.

Tuba Skinny


  1. New Orleans is still the best city for music in America, and the stuff you run into on the street is better than what you find in clubs in other places.

    Check out Meschia Lake and dem Lil’ Big Horns, who I ran into on the street there in April:


    I dream of moving there

  2. I’m sooo glad I saw this article. I was in NOLA in October and snapped a bunch of photos (and video) of this ensemble, and somehow managed to neglect noting their name (or even checking to see if I could buy their music). Now that I know who they are, I can spread the word, and buy their music. It was a highlight of my trip.

  3. You should also check out The New Orleans Bingo Show. You can listen to their stuff free on their website, and watch their videos as well.

    Hope you made it to the PoBoy festival the weekend before. They had some damn good ones out there.

  4. If you like this, you’ll also like Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns. You can check ’em out online, or see them play every Monday at Mimi’s in the Marigny…10pm-3am.

    Also check out other NOLA locals – Hurray for the Riff Raff (bluegrassy jazz) and Sam Doores and the Tumbleweeds (traditional bluegrass/country).

  5. Really glad to see Tuba Skinny popping up here. We caught them this past summer in Burlington, VT. I fell in love with them immediately, and bought their CDs as well. :D

    And of course, once we got home, I told everyone I knew about them, and they all fell in love with them too.

    There’s something really awesome about writing cutting edge code at work, while listening to excellent old timey music. There’s a nice contrast or irony or something to it. heh.

    Cheers again, Boing Boing! :D

  6. As big sister to Tuba Skinny’s washboard player extraordinaire, Robin, this is just the best thing to wake up to today. Everytime Tuba Skinny gets press, my mom gets a little less freaked out by my brother’s inclination towards a musical career in that dangerous place, NOLA.

    1. Premature “send” before
      Anyway I love the band, your brother is great and a crowd favorite. I was in NOLA a few weeks ago. I can’t wait to see them in Rhinebeck next month and I’m making a big pitch for them to play my house where I have a concert series. They’re hard to pin down or contact. Live performances are incredible, the cd’s as well. You should be proud of him. It’s not an easy life

  7. Worst purchase site I have ever used. I clicked the pay now and nothing happens. I selected shop for more and no shopping basket. Please post a viable site where I can purchase this music. I would love to give the little guy my money but they need to get with it and create a useful purchase site. And yes, the music is great, I want to purchase it for xmas gifts.

  8. Unless Tuba Skinny went on before the show was scheduled to start (I rolled in about 5 minutes late), the band that actually opened for Dresden in New Orleans is called “Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship?”

    Both excellent bands, but different members, and different sound. Definitely give Big Ship some of your attention as well.



    Also worth checking out (among many, many others that I don’t have the space to mention) Dark, Dark, Dark.


  9. I’ve been hitting these two albums hard since NOLA last week as well…absolutely dynamic stuff that holds up to the standards without feeling antiquated.

    Best part of their NOLA performance: the inside “busking” set at Tipatina’s right before the show started.

  10. Adding to New Orleans music recommendations: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. I recommend the album Open Up: Watcha Gonna Do primarily because it’s the one I have, and also is an excellent example of things maybe you didn’t think a tuba could do in a jazz band.

  11. New Orleans is an amazing place for street music, agreed. I caught R.I.S.E (Rising Appalachia) one day, and it was like a private concert. Bought their music on the spot.

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