From Streets to Stages: Meet Lucky Chops, the Brass Band from New York

From Streets to Stages: Meet Lucky Chops, the Brass Band from New York

Back in high school, cliques meant everything. From the jocks to the nerds and the hippies to the greasers, there was always one clique that got made fun of most… Can you guess which one? If you’re thinking of the goofy, seemingly uncoordinated band geeks who were definitely not part of the “Cool Club,” you hit the nail on the head… or the note on the fretboard… or the note in the scale. (Sorry, we’ll stop now.)

Do you ever wonder what happened to kids who would attend full-summer band camps and perform at high school football games? Well, NEWSFLASH, they are all grown up and it is not what you would expect!

Meet the Lucky Chops…

In 2006, the Lucky Chops brass band formed when sousaphone player Raphael Buyo asked his high school friends at LaGuardia High (the “Fame” school) to perform at a Filipino Day Parade in their home of New York City. They played in the parade, everything went smoothly, so they set up at the finish line in a big park.

“We just started jamming and making up songs on the spot and we started to get a big crowd,” recalls trombonist Josh Holcomb in an interview with Dukascopy TV. [1] “And we were like whoa, look at this, we can play on the streets and people like it.”

In addition to Buyo and Holcomb, the band also consists of Joshua Gawel (trumpet), Charles Sams (drums), and Daro Behroozi (tenor sax, clarinet, bass clarinet). After their first parade gig in 2006, they continued playing after school and on weekends on the streets in places like Central Park and Columbus Circle. Pretty soon people were asking them to play house parties, clubs, public events, and weddings.

But it wasn’t until 2014 that Lucky Chops auditioned for a program that would allow them to play underground in New York’s subway system called “Music Under New York.”

“We hit that as hard as we could, and by summer of 2015 we were playing in the subway three times a week,” they said in an interview with The Waster. “It really taught us how to become performers, how to connect with people from all walks of life, how to put on a show that would make them stop and check us out.” [2]

From Streets to Stages

Amazingly, a South American Subway tourist captured a video that ended up going viral – and not just locally. People across the United States, Latin America, and Europe began noticing them and really started paying attention. By 2016, what started out as a one-off Filipino Day Parade performance was the very thing that propelled them into creative careers that have allowed them to tour the U.S. and Europe.

For 12 years now, Lucky Chops has continued to unleash high-energy brassy funk on the world! What’s more is that their vision and mission has not budged one bit. According to their website bio, “the intensity of the band’s energy is fueled by their desire to share the healing and inspirational power of music with others.” [3]

On top of touring worldwide, the Lucky Chops crew are also advocates of music education and, as much as they can, perform or teach clinics and classes in hopes of inspiring a young, budding generation of new musicians.

“The love of music is what fuels us and the love of music is why we play,” says Holcomb. [1] “We grew up loving these instruments and we had the amazing opportunity to have public education music programs in our schools… And nowadays there’s a lot of cuts to those programs… So, we’re big advocates of keeping music education in the schools ‘cause that’s the only reason why we’re here.”

Now that you know about Lucky Chops and their humble beginnings, we hope you enjoy these videos (and maybe even dance along to them)!

Lucky Chops – Danza 2016 (LIVE at Grand Central Station, NYC)

Lucky Chops – Hello (ADELE COVER)

[1] Lucky Chops, The New York Metro Musicians In An Interview! Impromptu #Dukascopy. (2017, February 16). Retrieved from

[2] Lucky Chops ‘Breathing New Intention into Brass Music’. (n.d.). Retrieved from

[3] Lucky Chops “About” Page. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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