We had the good fortune of connecting with Aaron Gragg and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Aaron, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
The Chunky Hustle Brass Band began as a protest band with a palette of New Orleans street funk and R&B. We gathered like-minded musical citizens to bring the energy of national movements to the streets of San Diego. It began for us in 2017 when, unprompted, we joined in the Equality March. Later, community organizers would reach out to us asking for our uniquely galvanizing style of participation. In the following years we’d play at the Women’s March, March to Vote, and the historic BLM protests of 2020. Music has always provided a means of catharsis; a channel to both celebrate and mourn. This was a dire need in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, when thousands of San Diegans took to the streets with their anger and grief. Our music helped express and channel those feelings. It helped to unify the voices of the people and bring another layer of community to the movement. It has been an honor knowing that what we do and love has its place in the social and racial movements for justice.

Over the years we have continued to develop the flavor of our music, playing funk, ska, New Orleans traditionals, bombastic brass pop covers, and everything in between. The unifying theme to the music, joy! During the early days of COVID lockdown, anxiety and depression were rampant. To help keep ourselves sane and spread some of that joy, we began weekly shows in Balboa Park. Every Friday or Saturday afternoon, people would spread out on the lawns by 6th and Laurel and enjoy live music in a safe and inclusive way. This routine became a public mental health service for so many music fans who had nowhere else to go. Once music venues began to open again, we started to relax the routine. But, still to this day, you can catch the Chunky Hustle Brass Band out in Balboa or at North Parks’ Bird Park playing out in the sunshine.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The Chunky Hustle Brass Band has always been driven by our passion. First as a protest band, then as a means to lift spirits, we’ve always let our inspiration come naturally from a good place. The band is made up of teachers, engineers, landscape designers, mothers/fathers, and all sorts. It’s been a pleasure to grow together to a place where we can confidently call ourselves musicians as well.

We’re proud to announce the release of our first album CHuBB, which was recently nominated for best Blues/Jazz album by the San Diego Music Awards. The album was produced by our very own Alan Cheatham, artwork designed by our very own Ben Fox, and it includes original music by Aaron Gragg, Jordan Adams, Ben Fox, and Alan Cheatham.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Hit up all our favorite bands (many of which our members play in)!

Fresh Veggies Micro Brass
Casual Yak
Euphoria Brass Band
Big Tree Brass
Full Strength Funk Band

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We’d like to thank 7Grand (Whiskey Bar in North Park). We’ve had a residency with them since the early days of this band and many fun nights!

We’d also like to thank Euphoria Brass Band. They feel like our big brother/sister brass band. They keep us inspired and are consistently excellent people! The shows we play together are a big treat for everyone!

Website: https://chunkyhustlebrassband.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chunkyhustlebrassband/

Image Credits
The first one is from Amy Willamson (Fluid Motion Pictures) The Jungle Gym is from Julia McMahon The album art is from Ben Fox

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.