Less than three years ago, Jaedon Simmons wasn’t even playing the trombone. Now, if you search #TromboneShorter on Instagram and Facebook, at least 60 pictures come up showing him with St. Augustine’s Marching 100 Band.
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Muses. Hermes. Endymion. Mid-City. Bacchus. Orpheus. Zulu. Whenever you see this guy on the route this weekend, snap a pic and tag it with #TromboneShorterTracker. Follow him as he marches in the mega weekend with The Marching 100 for the first time! I’ll be collecting the images for a memoir. #TromboneShorter
It started off as a way for his mother, Kara Kentner, to keep memories of her son during parade season. Jaedon was inspired by Trombone Shorty to pick up a horn before he moved to New Orleans four years ago.
“Even in Ohio, we used to listen to Trombone Shorty all the time,” Kentner said. “He (Jaedon) plays baseball, and Shorty was his pump-up music before the games. We’d be driving and he’d say, ‘Mom, I need my pump-up music!’ It’s just interesting how it all came about.'”
“Probably about three years ago, he asked for his first trombone, and I was like ‘That is so random,'” Kentner remembers. “We got him one, and it sat dormant for a year and a half. He wasn’t even using it.”
Then, Jaedon was enrolled in St. Augustine as an eighth-grader.
“The first day of summer enrichment, I picked him up,” she said. “I’m asking him, ‘How was your day? What did you do?’ and he said ‘Oh, good. I signed up for the band.’ I’m like, ‘You did what?'”
Kentner said the hashtag started as almost a joke, because Jaedon was the shortest trombone player on the line when he became part of the band.
“I work in digital media, so it was just a part of me and kind of happened that way,” she said. “I didn’t do it thinking it would catch on. I just did it because I was trying to create an online digital memory for my son. It just kind of turned out to be this memory online.”
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Kentner says the hashtag is a way for Jaedon to see who’s watching him during the parades since while he’s in uniform band members can’t interact with the crowd.
“It’s cool to see the community rally around him,” she said, “because at first, no one really knew him. He used to tell me stories, like, ‘I think I kept hearing my name.’ I’m like, ‘You did!”
Jeadon said that before he went to St. Augustine, he wasn’t known by a lot of people outside of school.
“It motivates me to stay involved,” he said. “When people call out your name, it feels cool that people know you and recognize you, even with your uniform on and your helmet is on. Usually, my visor is on low, and people still recognize you.”
This year, Jaedon isn’t the shortest one in the band, but you’ll still be able to spot him and use the #TromboneShorter hashtag.
“We normally do a four-man front,” Jaedon said. “On a four-or eight-man front, I would normally be on the second row in the middle. On the ends or in the front are the most sought-after positions. Being on the end gives you that extra recognition. This year when we marched into the Endymion Open House and the Nyx Ball, I was on the first wave. I was thrilled and completely overjoyed, knowing it’s only my second year in the band, but it showed how much I grew. It was a lot of fun being on the first wave.”
His mother said it’s interesting that what started off as pump-up music before baseball has grown into a lifestyle.
“I never get tired of seeing him in the uniform marching down the street,” she said. “As much as I’m around the band, it’s just something different about Mardi Gras that makes you feel good.”