The traditional New Orleans jazz that the Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs transports you to another era from the first note blown. On any trip to New Orleans it is a must that you attend one of the band’s daily gigs at the legendary Preservation Hall, an intimate venue that is the size of a Brooklyn living space. Preservation Box would better describe the 40+ capacity venue, but the setting is the perfect way to see the band.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band is in NYC to celebrate its 50th anniversary as a group. The celebration continues tomorrow at Carnegie Hall with help from a star-studded lineup of friends and performers including My Morning Jacket, Mos Def, Allen Toussaint and many more. As expected this show sold out immediately and was a super hard ticket to get. Thankfully the band decided to come up a week early and do a set of intimate performances called the Crescent City Stomp at the McKittrick Hotel/Manderlay Bar, which I was fortunate enough to attend last night.
If you haven’t been to the McKittrick Hotel it is an astounding five-floor mansion, which is the setting of the interactive, theatrical performance Sleep No More. This event just took place on the first two floors, which included the 1920s speakeasy Manderlay Bar. With its old-timey décor, it made for the perfect setting for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band performance.
I was front and center for this show, close enough that I was dodging Freddie Lonzo’s trombone as he played. Once the band started to play, the space transformed into the sweaty club scene of New Orleans. Beers in hand, the crowd danced and grooved to that Crescent City swing as the band performed tunes like “Shake It And Break It,” “Tootie Ma Is A Big Fine Thing” and “When The Saints.”
Later in the show the band was joined on stage by My Morning Jacket’s Jim James for a couple of songs, and we were even graced with the presence of the “Burlesque Queen Of New Orleans,” Trixie Minx, who did a little performance during one of James’s songs. Later in the band’s second set, Tao Seeger added guest vocals on a song, and the intimate show wrapped with the gospel classic “I”ll Fly Away.”