Record, release, tour, repeat. While that may be the traditional means of putting out music and garnering a fulfilling career in the industry, there is always the option of rewriting the rules and finding what works best. Dirty Catfish Brass Band embodies this exception as they celebrate 10 years.
In 2011, Aaron Chodirker (keys and organ) went on a trip to New Orleans and became instantly captivated by the brass-band music scene at the Maple Leaf Bar. He later contacted his friends and made arrangements to create that same magic locally.
“I immediately thought about why we don’t have one of these in Winnipeg. I know a lot of horn players and zero people doing this type of music near me,” Chodirker says.
It wasn’t hard to find a large group to hop on board. Andrew Littleford (trumpet), Graham Dion (saxophones), Cody Iwasiuk (drums) and Kyle Wedlake (tenor saxophone) went to Brandon University together, while Todd Martin (mellophone, harmonica and vocals) and Chodirker already knew one another beforehand.
The band has played with other local acts, such as Royal Canoe and Begonia, as well as opened up for other brass bands from overseas like Galactic.
“It’s been really cool to learn from these people’s music, work with them and see that they are just normal working musicians – that they respect you and that they are just so good,” Martin says.
The collaborative atmosphere isn’t just related to artists, but also to a particular Winnipeg venue: Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club. The group has been playing there monthly for the past four to five years, inspired by the social and pleasure clubs in New Orleans.
Dirty Catfish Brass Band has progressively evolved from playing together in a studio to now working on separate segments in order to sound polished and professional. Their current project is being produced by Murray Pulver.
On Nov. 5, the band will celebrate their anniversary by playing some tunes at the Park Theatre.
“We are inviting some past members to join us. The first set will be just our band proper, then we will invite (former members) Phil Collins, Simon Christie, Jeff Acosta (currently an honorary member), Noah Jacobson and Scott Senior on the second set. We will be feeling all the feels and are excited to check out the new Park Theatre,” Martin says.
All in all, Wedlake, Chodirker and Martin agree that the COVID-19 pandemic made them realize the importance of community. Whether it be playing at a Jets game or entertaining audiences with a wide age range, Winnipeg is their place to stay and make brass music a means of comfort.
“Making the community part of our music is going to be a constant for us,” Wedlake says.
For more information about the Dirty Catfish Brass Band 10th Anniversary Show, visit eventbrite.ca.
Published in Volume 76, Number 07 of The Uniter (October 28, 2021)