Thursday, December 31, 2009

"PRESERVATION" Preview #5: Appearing with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band - MS. AMY LAVERE

February 16, 2010 - PRESERVATION: an album benefitting Preservation Hall & The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program hits the streets! (Best Mardi Gras Ever?) While we wait with baited breath, we share with you these previews of the 19 amazing tracks and special guests that make this latest offering from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band so very special. In this installment...

While Amy LaVere's voice may have the high, breathy tone of a young girl, she brings to her music the emotional peaks and valleys of a grown woman who has certainly seen her share of the world, and it's hard not to believe that her adventurous life has informed her work. LaVere was born in a small town near the border of Texas and Louisiana to parents who were part-time musicians. Her family's nomadic life led LaVere to live in 13 different places before she finished high school, and when her folks finally settled in Detroit, she rejected the classic country sounds they doted on -- Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson were their favorites -- in favor of punk rock. LaVere played drums and sang in a Motor City punk band called Last Minute, but after graduating she grew restless and headed back to Louisiana, which turned out to be a brief stop on the way to a job in Nashville, working for a music management company. After settling in Nashville, LaVere met Gabe Kudela, who played with the barnstorming country-punk band the Legendary Shack Shakers. After a brief romance, LaVere and Kudela wed, and after she learned to play upright bass, the couple began playing nightclubs on Nashville's Lower Broadway as part of a group they called the Gabe & Amy Show; the band developed a loyal following in Nashville, and spawned another when they pulled up stakes and relocated to Memphis in 1999.

Although LaVere and Kudela's marriage broke up in 2003, LaVere's love of singing was stronger than ever, and she had developed a belated appreciation for classic country, blues, and jazz sounds that influenced her performing style. With the help of friends Paul Buchignani and Jason Freeman, LaVere began performing as a solo act, and after extensive gigging in the South LaVere caught the attention of Memphis-based independent label Archer Records, which released her striking debut album, This World Is Not My Home, in April of 2006. A little over a year later, LaVere's second long-player, Anchors & Anvils (produced by legendary Memphis musician and studio hand Jim Dickinson), arrived in stores. When not busy with her musical career, LaVere also dabbles in acting; she played pioneering rockabilly filly Wanda Jackson in the film Walk the Line, and later appeared in Craig Brewer's Black Snake Moan.PHOTOS OF AMY LAVERE @ PRESERVATION HALL

The Song:

"Baby Won't You Please Come Home"
Amy LaVere & The Preservation Hall Jazz Band

(Charles Warfield/Clarence Williams) public domain

Amy LaVere - vocals
Mark Braud - trumpet
Clint Maedgen - clarinet
Lucien Barbarin - trombone
Carl LeBlanc - banjo
Rickie Monie - piano
Ben Jaffe - string bass
Joe Lastie - drums

Amy LaVere appears courtesy of Archer Records performed by BESSIE SMITH (1923):

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New photos on Preservation Hall's Flickr Page!

Wanna see some pics from the PHJB Tour? Visit our Flickr page at:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

PHJB together with The Blind Boys of Alabama. On Tour in January!

If you haven't caught the Down The Riverside Tour featuring The Blind Boys of Alabama with PHJB, you've got a few chances in January:
Jan. 7th at Tarrytown, NY - Tarrytown Music Hall
Jan. 8th at Washington, DC - Warner Theatre
Jan. 10th at Chapel Hill, NC - Univ. of North Carolina
Jan. 29th at Morristown, NJ - Community Theatre of Morristown

See you there!

Happy Birthday, Willie Humphrey! (1900-1994)

Born on this day in 1900, Willie Humphrey was a singular performer who lent his unique blend of clarinet and charisma to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for many, many years. Together with his brother Percy on trumpet, his playing is still held as representative of the New Orleans sound and can be heard on the seminal 1964 live recording of Sweet Emma and Her Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Here's a brief biography from

Willie Humphrey, Jr.
by Scott Yanow for
Since he was the grandson of trumpeter and music teacher Jim Humphrey, the son of clarinetist Willie Humphrey, Sr., and the brother of both trumpeter Percy and trombonist Earl Humphrey, it is not surprising that Willie Humphrey, Jr. became a musician. After some violin lessons, he switched to clarinet when he was 14 and started working locally. Humphrey spent part of 1919-1920 in Chicago, where he played with King Oliver and Freddie Keppard, but then returned home, missing his chance to be recorded early in his career. Humphrey spent 1925-1932 in St. Louis, playing with Fate Marable and Dewey Jackson, and toured with Lucky Millinder (1935-1936), but otherwise lived in New Orleans the remainder of his life. He worked as a music teacher and in a Navy band during World War II, and in the 1950s, he spent a period working with Paul Barbarin. Willie Humphrey and his brother Percy came to fame performing with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band starting in the 1960s, touring and spreading the joy of New Orleans jazz around the world. Although far from a virtuoso, Willie Humphrey played his simple ensemble-oriented style with spirit; he recorded as a leader for Smoky Mary and late in his career for GHB.

Check out Willie with this all-star lineup in 1973!

Monday, December 28, 2009

"PRESERVATION" Preview #4: Appearing With PHJB - MR. JIM JAMES!

Jim James
(from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

James Olliges, Jr., professionally known as Jim James or Yim Yames, is the singer of Louisville, Kentucky-based rock band, My Morning Jacket. James grew up in the Hikes Point neighborhood of Louisville and graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1995. As the singer, frontman, producer, and lead songwriter for My Morning Jacket, James has been instrumental in defining the sound of the band, in particular on their critically acclaimed Z, which he co-produced with John Leckie. James cites The Muppet Show as one of his biggest musical influences. James was given an "Esky" for best songwriter in Esquire's 2006 Esky Music Awards in the April issue. James typically plays rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, and occasional lead guitar on My Morning Jacket songs. James recently played the role of the band Leader in the Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There singing the song "Going to Acapulco", with Calexico as his backing band, which was featured on the soundtrack of the film. Rolling Stone listed James among their "20 New Guitar Gods" along with fellow My Morning Jacket guitarist Carl Broemel. He contributed vocals on The Decemberists 2009 album The Hazards of Love.

On July 7, 2009, James released an EP covering George Harrison songs, entitled Tribute To. A portion of the proceeds from the album will go to benefit the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. The EP is available on as both a digital download and a physical CD/LP.
photos of Jim James @ Preservation Hall by Mary Ashley Johnson

The Song:
"Louisiana Fairytale"
Yim Yames & The Preservation Hall Jazz Band
(Parish, Gillespie, Coots)
WB Music Corp, Larry Spier Music LLC, EMI Mills Music Inc.

Yim Yames - vocals
Mark Braud - trumpet
Clint Maedgen - clarinet
Daniel "Weenie" Farrow - tenor sax
Carl LeBlanc - banjo
"The Professor" Rickie Monie - piano
Walter Payton - string bass
Joe Lastie - drums

Yim Yames appears courtesy of ATO



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"PRESERVATION" Preview #3: Appearing with PHJB - MR. BUDDY MILLER!

biography by Johnny Loftus

Soulful Americana songwriter, singer, and producer Buddy Miller began his career in the early '60s as an upright bassist is high-school bluegrass combos. Later, he traveled the back roads of America as an acoustic guitarist, eventually landing in New York City, where his Buddy Miller Band included a young Shawn Colvin on vocals and guitar. He also forged an enduring relationship with country-rock iconoclast Jim Lauderdale. Miller eventually landed in Nashville, where he did session guitar and vocal work on albums by Lauderdale, Victoria Williams, and Heather Myles, among others. He self-produced his criminally overlooked solo debut, Your Love and Other Lies (Hightone, 1995), and followed it with 1997's equally superb Poison Love. By this point Miller was the lead guitarist in Emmylou Harris' band, and Harris returned the favor with backing vocals throughout Poison Love. Released in 1999, Cruel Moon continued Miller's string of home-recorded masterpieces; this time around, Steve Earle dropped by for the sessions. A big part of all Miller's recordings was the songwriting and harmonies of his wife, Julie Miller. The 2001 duet album Buddy & Julie Miller brought her contributions to the front of the mix and delivered them with gritty, soulful country arrangements enhanced by the interplay of his scowl and her lilt, while 2002 saw the release of his fifth album for Hightone, Midnight and Lonesome. It again featured contributions from Julie, Harris, and Lauderdale and mixed honky tonk with heartfelt balladry and the occasional soul cover. In 2004 Miller released the roots gospel album Universal United House of Prayer for New West, followed by Written in Chalk in 2009. In addition to his stellar solo career, Miller held down his gig in Harris' backing band; played guitar with Earle; produced albums by his wife Julie, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and the Vigilantes of Love; and wrote songs for the Dixie Chicks, Lee Ann Womack, Lauderdale, and Hank Williams III.


"I Ain't Go Nobody"
Buddy Miller & The Preservation Hall Jazz Band
(Roger Graham/Spencer Williams) public domain

Buddy Miller - vocals, guitar
Mark Braud - trumpet
Clint Maedgen - clarinet
Daniel "Weenie" Farrow - tenor sax
Lucien Barbarin - trombone
Carl LeBlanc - banjo
Rickie Monie - piano
Ben Jaffe - tuba
Walter Payton - string bass
Joe "Fish" Lastie - drums

Buddy Miller appears courtesy of New West Records

As Performed by The Mills Brothers, circa 1930s:

Buddy Miller's So New, There's Still No Title:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

This Friday: PHJB on NPR's WORLD CAFE!

Friday, December 25, 2009:

This Friday, when you're done opening presents, don't forget to tune-in to World Cafe on NPR! This year, National Public Radio is giving you the gift of Traditional New Orleans Jazz as they feature the Preservation Hall Jazz Band's in-studio performance for the first hour of World Cafe from WXPN in Philadelphia. In the second hour? Aqua Teen Hunger Force. So really, you're getting a little bit of everything, wouldn't you say?

World Cafe is a two-hour long, nationally syndicated music radio program that originates from WXPN, a non-commercial station licensed to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The program began in 1991 and was originally distributed by Public Radio International. Since 2005, the show has been distributed by National Public Radio. Hosted by David Dye, World Cafe features live performances and interviews with established and emerging artists. The program's format covers a wide spectrum of musical genres, including adult album alternative, indie rock, folk, hard rock, singer-songwriter, alt-country, and world music.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Creole Christmas at Preservation Hall!

Tickets are still available for our Christmas Eve presentations of A Creole Christmas at Preservation Hall! Call (504) 522-2841 for tickets to this Thursday's 2pm or 4pm performance!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"PRESERVATION" Preview #2: Appearing with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band - MR. RICHIE HAVENS

Richie Havens
Richie Havens is gifted with one of the most recognizable voices in popular music. His fiery, poignant, always soulful singing style has remained unique and ageless since he first emerged from the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 1960’s. It’s a voice that has inspired and electrified audiences from the Woodstock Music & Arts Fair in 1969, to the Clinton Presidential Inauguration in 1993 -coming full circle with the 30th Woodstock Anniversary celebration, "A Day In The Garden," in 1999.

For over three decades, Richie has used his music to convey messages of brotherhood and personal freedom. With more than twenty-five albums released and a touring schedule that would kill many a younger man, he continues to view his calling as a higher one. As he told The Denver Post, "I really sing songs that move me. I’m not in show business, I’m in the communications business. That’s what it’s about for me."

Born in Brooklyn, Richard P. Havens was the eldest of nine children. At an early age, he began organizing his neighborhood friends into street corner doo-wop groups, and was performing with The McCrea Gospel Singers at 16. At the age of 20, Richie left Brooklyn to seek out the artistic stimulation of Greenwich Village. "I saw the Village as a place to escape to in order to express yourself,” he recalls. "I had first gone there during the beatnik days of the 1950’s to perform poetry, then I drew portraits for 2 years and stayed up all night listening to folk music in the clubs. It took awhile before I thought of picking up a guitar." Nina Simone was a key vocal influence early on, and Fred Neil and Dino Valenti were among the folksingers who had an impact on Richie during this period.

Richie’s reputation as a solo performer soon spread beyond the Village folk circles. He recorded two albums worth of demos for Douglas International in 1965 and ’66, though none of the tracks were released until his first two albums caused a stir. After joining forces with legendary manager Albert Grossman, Richie landed his first record deal with the Verve label, which released Mixed Bag in 1967. This auspicious debut album featured standout tracks like "Handsome Johnny" (co-written by Richie and future Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett , Jr.), "Follow,” and the striking version of Bob Dylan’s "Just Like A Woman" that earned him the reputation of being a premier interpreter of Dylan’s material.

Something Else Again (1968) became Richie’s first album to hit the Billboard chart, and also pulled Mixed Bag onto the charts. That same year, Douglas International added (unapproved) instrumental tracks to his old demos and released two albums, Richie Havens’ Record and Electric Havens. Less than a year later, Richie’s first coproduction, the two-disc Richard P. Havens, 1983 (Verve 1969), gave fans a taste of his exciting live sound.

It was, in fact, as a live performer that Richie first earned widespread notice. By decade’s end, he was in great demand in colleges across the country, as well as on the international folk and pop festival circuit. Richie played the 1966 Newport Folk Festival, the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival, the 1968 Miami Pop Festival, the 1969 Woodstock Festival, the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival, and the first Glastonbury Festival in 1970.

Richie’s Woodstock appearance proved to be a major turning point in his career. As the festival’s first performer, he held the crowd spellbound for nearly three hours, called back for encore after encore. Having run out of tunes, he improvised a song based on the old spiritual "Motherless Child" that became "Freedom,” a song now considered to be the anthem of a generation. The subsequent movie release helped Richie reach a worldwide audience of millions...


"Trouble in Mind"
Richie Havens - vocals, guitar
Walter Parks - guitar
Mark Braud - trumpet
Charlie Gabriel - clarinet
Clint Maedgen - tenor sax
Freddie Lonzo - trombone
Carl LeBlanc - banjo
Walter Payton - string bass
"9th Ward" Joe Lastie - drums

as performed by


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"PRESERVATION" Preview #1: Appearing with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band - MR. ANDREW BIRD

by Heather Phares

Chicago singer/songwriter/violinist Andrew Bird updates the traditions of small-group swing, German leider, and New Orleans jazz, mixing gypsy, folk, and rock elements into his distinctive style. Bird's projects include his group the Bowl of Fire (which also includes drummer Kevin O'Donnell, bassist Josh Hirsch, and guitarist Colin Bunn) and performing as an auxiliary member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers; in turn, the Zippers' Katharine Whalen and James Mathus appeared on the Bowl of Fire albums Thrills and Oh! the Grandeur. Bird has also recorded with artists like Pinetop Seven and Lil' Ed Williams, teaches music at the Old Town School of Folk Music, and performed on the score and soundtrack from the 1999 Tim Robbins film The Cradle Will Rock. His third album, 2001's The Swimming Hour, surprisingly found the Bowl of Fire turning to pop music, and with excellent results. As bandmembers remained active in their various other projects, the band continued and work on a follow-up began in 2002. To tide fans over, Bird self-released a limited-edition EP, Fingerlings, which documented live performances of some old and new songs by the band and solo. Early 2003 brought the release of another LP, Weather Systems, on the independent Grimsey label. Bird debuted on Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe imprint in 2005 with Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs. He switched to Fat Possum for 2007's Armchair Apocrypha and 2009's Noble Beast, both of which were ambitious and eclectic albums even by Bird's standards.

"Shake It And Break It"
Andrew Bird - lead vocals, violin, whistling
Mark Braud - trumpet
Charlie Gabriel - clarinet
Clint Maedgen - tenor sax
Lucien Barbarin - trombone
Carl LeBlanc - banjo
Ben Jaffe - tuba
Joe Lastie - drums




Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Coming Mardi Gras, 2010 - PRESERVATION: A collaborative benefit album featuring Tom Waits, Andrew Bird, Merle Haggard and more!


NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 16, 2010: Over the last year, more than 20 of American music's most exciting artists have traveled to Preservation Hall in New Orleans to collaborate with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on classic New Orleans repertoire. The end result is a timeless and joyous celebration of New Orleans music. Proceeds from the sale of the project will benefit Preservation Hall and The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program. The album is set for release on Fat Tuesday, February 16, 2010 in standard CD, deluxe edition, and double-LP collectible formats.

The mission of Preservation Hall, to showcase and nurture one of America's greatest indigenous, national, cultural treasures - New Orleans Jazz - is as important today as it was when Preservation Hall officially opened its doors in 1961.

"Our community is deeply rooted in a tradition of using music to rejoice, heal, and overcome adversity. We play music at our funerals to uplift our spirits during our deepest and darkest emotional moments," says producer Ben Jaffe, PHJB Creative Director and son of Preservation Hall founders Allan and Sandra Jaffe. "My goal on this project was to create new works steeped in the New Orleans Tradition with artists from diverse musical genres and backgrounds who all share a mutual admiration and deep appreciation for our cultural heritage."

From Brandi Carlile's take on the gospel classic "Old Rugged Cross" to Tom Waits' arrangement of the earliest known recorded Mardi Gras song, "Tootie Ma Is A Big Fine Thing," each artist was able to perform their interpretation of these classics within the warm confines of Preservation Hall's famous performance space. Even New Orleans' own legendary Louis Armstrong, who once said, "Preservation Hall, now that's where you'll hear all the greats," is transported through the decades and can be heard trading licks and vocals on an updated version of his classic "Rockin' Chair."

The complete roster of artists includes: Louis Armstrong, Andrew Bird, Terence Blanchard, Pete Seeger, Dr. John, Blind Boys of Alabama, Brandi Carlile, Cory Chisel, Ani DiFranco, Steve Earle, Merle Haggard, Richie Havens, Jason Isbell, Jim James, Angelique Kidjo, Amy Lavere, Anita Briem, Del McCoury, Buddy Miller, Paolo Nutini, and Tom Waits.

Preservation Hall, located in the French Quarter just three blocks from the Mississippi River, remains the intimate veune it originally was when it opened in 1961 as a performance space dedicated to honoring, celebrating and perpetuating New Orleans jazz. Originally erected as a Spanish Tavern in the 1750s, Preservation Hall is a modest French Quarter structure. The building has no running water or air conditioning, and the only seating accomodations are six benches and a few cushions strewn about the worn wooden floor. Its raw and weather-beaten exterior remains unpainted.

A half-century later, Preservation Hall continues to ensure the cultural legacy and the future of
this beautiful tradition by allowing young and old to collaborate together. in the spirit of New Orleans, legendary and emerging artists donated their time to travel to New Orleans to record this special compilation album benefiting Preservation Hall and the Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program.

Preservation was spearheaded by RED Distribution, who approached Preservation Hall for their blessing and collaboration. "We're honored to be the driving force behind a tribute to this iconic body of music and the mission to restore the legendary Preservation Hall and its Music Outreach Program," said Bob Morelli, president, RED Distribution in announcing the album. "We hope this project continues to keep philanthropy at the forefront of the music industry, and restores faith that each of us can make a difference with just the purchase of a single CD. We thank all the wonderful artists who contributed their time and talent."

Monday, December 14, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen,
Another year has come and nearly gone. Which means that it's time once again to vote for your favorite musicians, groups, and recordings for Offbeat Magazine's annual Best Of The Beat awards! The Preservation Hall Jazz Band is nominated once again for Best Traditional Jazz Artist, as well as Best Traditional Jazz Album for this year's New Orleans Preservation, Vol. 1. Additionally, PHJB members Charlie Gabriel, Clint Maedgen, and Ben Jaffe are all up for awards in various categories. Please take a few moments a vote for your favorites!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Services for Ralph Johnson

Ralph Johnson
1938 - 2009

Services to be held at
St. Peter Claver Church
1923 St. Philip Street
Friday, December 11

Viewing from 9am - 11am
Mass at 11am

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rest in Peace, Ralph Johnson (1938-2009)

Sad news today. A much-loved member of our family has passed. Ralph Johnson, clarinet player here at Preservation Hall and on the road with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for nearly twenty years, died early this morning. He was a wonderful human being and will be missed very much.

Please follow this link to listen to Mr. Johnson's lovely playing on a recent rendition of the Sidney Bechet classic, Le Petit Fleur...

Ralph Johnson, clarinet
Born August 24, 1938
Died December 7, 2009

Played with: Jerry Butler, the Impressions, Dr. John, Wallace Davenport, Johnny Adams, Chuck Carbo

Musicians teemed through the Sixth Ward district where Ralph Johnson was raised. His father, Son Johnson, was a clarinetist; when he handed the instrument to his son when Ralph was seven years old, the moment embedded itself in Ralph's memory as a solemn rite of passage. Still, making music proved anything but solemn for the young artist, who has since spent decades onstage with New Orleans artists of every style. Playing all reed instruments as well as flute and piano, he performed on his first gig at thirteen -- he had to lie about his age to even be allowed into the 21 and over venue. His connection to Preservation Hall dates back to appearances there with drummer Chester Jones and other bandleaders. For more than ten years Johnson has been a beloved member of the Preservation Hall band, in which he carries on the great traditions of clarinet artistry established in years past by Willie Humphrey and George Lewis.

"Preservation Hall is a place where you can play what's in your soul and make people happy. It's not about playing for yourself; it's playing to see a smile. The more smiles I see, the happier I am. When you play this music, you let your spirit go. You let your spirit say what it has to say. You play your heart out for the people because it makes you happy, just like it makes them happy. That's all that you can do. Why waste this precious time in your life doing anything that doesn't make people smile?" "I've played it all -- rock & roll, straight-ahead -- because all of it, all music, is made by God, not man. That's why I love the whole picture."

We will post information regarding memorial services as that information becomes available.

Friday, December 4, 2009