Bad Cactus Brass Band

Bad Cactus Brass Band

The Bad Cactus Brass Band is a New Orleans Second Line street jazz band based in Phoenix, Arizona. Founded by saxophonist Benjie Messer, their members include many of the fieriest jazz musicians in the Phoenix area.

Their repertoire includes original dance music, funky street beats, traditional dixieland, gospel and swing, and pop songs reinterpreted with a brass band sound. Powered by tuba, drums, trumpets, saxophones, and trombones, the Bad Cactus Brass Band brings a Mardi Gras energy to street corners, festivals, parties, nightclubs, weddings, and funerals.

“You’re a culturally land-locked Arizonan. As such, the closest you’ve ever come to a bona fide New Orleans “second line” street band is an episode of Treme… Well, your jazz illiteracy days are over… The Bad Cactus Brass Band takes the singular sounds of the Big Easy and deposits them right here in the land of norteƱo and jangle rock.” –Craig Outhier, Phoenix New Times

“They play loud, they play great… If you were to imagine how it might have sounded if Bix Biederbeck had been in a garage band in his Davenport days, it might have sounded like the Bad Cactus Brass Band.” –Jim Phillips, Arizona Classic Jazz Society

Notable Accomplishments:

Bad Cactus Brass Band burst onto the Phoenix scene in 2009, and within a year their distinctive take on New Orleans jazz and funk had become a prominent voice of the city. Their joyful energy and second line traditions have graced many of the area’s biggest festivals, including Phoenix’s Fabulous Fourth of July, Tempe’s Fiesta Bowl Block Party, Tempe Oktoberfest, Glendale Glitters, the Scottsdale Arts Festival, the Desert Botanical Garden’s Luminaria Nights, and free summer concert series put on by both the Scottsdale and Chandler Centers for the Arts. They have have been featured on radio and television, and have marched in the Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts and the Phoenix Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. They have provided entertainment for many of the Valley’s largest Mardi Gras-themed events, including the Cajun Cook-Off and Westgate Mall’s Mardi Gras Party Gras, and have partnered with the Downtown Phoenix Partnership to organize a city-wide Mardi Gras parade and festival for 2011. They are the only local band selected to perform at Dogfish Head Ale’s Amazing Beer Festival, and will be providing entertainment for the Grand Re-Opening of the Herberger Theater.

Always on the lookout for new experiences, Bad Cactus Bass Band has performed at elementary schools, picnics, churches, pep rallies, talent shows, farmers markets, ASU fairs, fraternity parties, pub crawls, block parties, house parties, nightclubs, Chinese restaurants, burlesque shows, weddings, Suns games, casino nights, benefit and charity concerts, Christmas tree lightings, grand openings, corporate luncheons, industry expos, anniversaries, senior centers, and funerals. They have appeared at German events as a polka band, at Jewish events as a klezmer band, and at the Phoenix ComiCon as the world’s first New Orleans-style chiptune band. They have performed on street corners, on the light rail, on escalators and in elevators, in record stores and libraries. Musical guerillas, they have paraded uninvited into clubs, stores, and several breakfast establishments before 6:00 AM.

Bad Cactus Brass Band has recorded two albums, Arizona Mardi Gras and Christmas Cactus, both to be released this fall. They have toured as far as Moab, Utah, and have shared stages with some of Arizona’s most exciting young bands, including Dry River Yacht Club, Captain Squeegee, the Sugar Thieves, and Warsaw Poland Brothers.

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