Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Noel Rockmore in Garden & Gun Magazine

If you have the time, check out this amazing article about Noel Rockmore.  If you've ever been to Preservation Hall, you've seen his work on the walls.  Well, 1400 more paintings by this notorious French Quarter artist have been discovered in a New Orleans Public Storage space.  This month, John Ed Bradley has published an amazing story about the paintings and their artist in Gun and Garden Magzine.  Check it out!

Cedric Angeles
The Tomb of Rockmore
By John Ed Bradley | Feb/March 2011 | Features
Can the startling discovery of some 1,400 paintings bring a great New Orleans artist back from the dead?  

They bought the gas masks and Hazmat suits at Home Depot.

This was fourteen months after Hurricane Katrina, when parts of New Orleans had already returned to normal, but Rich and Tee Marvin weren’t taking any chances.

Rich’s mother, Shirley Marvin, had asked them to travel to her former home in New Orleans and check on the things she’d packed away at a downtown storage facility. Shirley, who was eighty-four in October 2006, had been experiencing occasional memory lapses associated with old age, and she thought she had “between twenty and seventy paintings” in one unit, she’d told Rich, and furniture in another.
Billie and Dede Pierce, by Noel Rockmore

Most of the paintings were by somebody named Noel Rockmore. Rich and Tee live in Cotuit, Massachusetts, a village on Cape Cod. They traveled about sixteen hundred miles to reach the nineteenth-century warehouse where Shirley had been renting space for twenty years. Covered from head to toe without an inch of flesh bare, they took a service elevator to the second floor and came to the first of the units. It was a large space, 20 feet by 10 feet, for which Shirley paid $250 a month. While helping with her bills, Rich had learned that his mother hadn’t paid for the storage in three months, giving the business the right to take possession of the property and auction it off. But Shirley had been a good customer, and so the place had cut her a break.

Rich and Tee swung the door open and stood stunned by what they saw. Boxes crowded every inch of space and pressed against the wire grid ceiling overhead. Rich pulled a box into the hallway, and he and his wife had a look inside. They found several paintings wrapped in brown kraft paper.

Shirley’s collection is yet one more story about the treasures that were discovered in New Orleans in the months after Katrina. Guided by a hopeless feeling that things would never be made right again, local residents dragged valuable flood-damaged furniture and art to the curbs in front of their homes for trash pickup. They chucked precious, mold-infested ephemera into Dumpsters—books, photographs, letters, maps, prints, paintings. They also abandoned or forgot about the things they’d put in storage, leaving them to be confiscated or thrown out.

Larry Borenstein, Allan Jaffe, and Noel Rockmore, courtesy Sacha B. Clay (photographer unknown)
The Marvins weren’t prepared to uncover “the tomb of Rockmore,” as Rich later described it. Rather than a manageable group of paintings, they found some fourteen hundred works of art, including sculptures, collages, portraits dating back to the 1950s, huge canvases supporting three-dimensional abstract constructions, and hundreds of watercolor and pen-and-ink drawings in some thirty sketchbooks that Shirley had squirreled away in a trunk.

Bill Matthews by Noel Rockmore
The collection also included a large painting that Rich called “Shirley Marvin Discovers America,” which showed its bespectacled subject, dear Shirley herself, standing on a ship at sail with a billowing American flag in the background. Much of the work was gorgeous and profound, but some of it begged for an explanation, such as pieces from the artist’s Egyptian series, which Rockmore produced after engrossing himself in Egyptian history and literature and channeling pharaohs.

“Noel Rockmore was a fascinating, oddball, homegrown American surrealist,” says Dan Cameron, a curator of contemporary art best known for his work as artistic director of U.S. Biennial, the organization that produces Prospect New Orleans. “In the last year or so I’ve participated in some interesting discussions with friends and colleagues in New Orleans whom I respect, and there’s no denying what they think about him. These are people who don’t use the word genius very often, but they all use it when discussing Rockmore.”

The artist, it turns out, had often called on Shirley Marvin when he needed money over the course of their thirty-three-year friendship, and Rockmore, who died in 1995 at age sixty-six, seemed to always need money. The bulging contents in the storage unit were testament to his brilliance, but they also revealed Shirley’s devotion to an artist who produced some fifteen thousand works of art in his lifetime and who might have become America’s Picasso if not for crushing battles with alcoholism and bipolar disorder that, by the end of his days, had reduced him to a bona fide lunatic and a virtual pariah in the art world...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Poppa Neutrino, R.I.P.

Sad news from Ingrid Lucia:

Dear Family, Friends and Fans,

Poppa Neutrino passed away yesterday at university Hospital in New Orleans.  As unbelievably saddened as I am to lose my father, muse, teacher and best friend, I am heartened by the full life he lived and the friends he had.  He was a self taught man who wanted to help people attain their "Three deepest desires" in life.  He had no interest in material belongings,and would make a habit of fresh starts by giving everything away to whoever might need it.  He was a teacher, raft builder, musician and world adventurer.  I don't know another person who lived their lives to the very fullest more than my dad.  I also know that he did not want to be dependent on anyone ever.  His body was slowly deteriorating from congestive heart failure.

I believe he chose his departure date so he could leave on a high note. I am honored he chose to be here, close to me.  I brought him dinner at the hospital at 8PM on Saturday.  As he was eating his Ice cream with a big smile of love and joy on his face, he hugged me and said to "Be careful" on my way to my show. I said he should call me in the morning when he was up, as he was planning on checking out at 2PM the next day.  A few hours later he passed away from breathing complications.  He had requested to be cremated.  Poppa Neutrino had no insurance or money. He never placed his values on them. And that is what he taught his children.  We are asking for donations to apply toward the cremation and memorial Second Line for "The happiest man in the world"  We are planning a date approximately a month from now to hold a big party and send off for him. I know that would have made him so happy.  He always told the story about his step dad's funeral and how many people came out to pay their respects. He always said that is how you gauge the success of a man.  I hope you will join us in celebrating the life of William David Pearlman AKA Poppa Neutrino.

Sincerely and with love,
Ingrid Lucia
"Daughter of the Hero"
January 24 3:52pm

Monday, January 24, 2011

Trey McIntyre interview in Dance Magazine about TMP/PHJB collaboration

Article and Interview with Trey McIntyre regarding the sequel to the Trey McIntyre Project/Preservation Hall Jazz Band collobartion "Ma Maison":

They're With The Band
Trey McIntyre returns to New Orleans
Dance Magazine, January 21, 2011

When Trey McIntyre choreographed Ma Maison, he didn't know the piece would become one of his company's most popular works. Commissioned in 2008 by the New Orleans Ballet Association and set to music performed by the celebrated Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Ma Maison captures to the city's jaunty embrace of life and death, and its extraordinary will to survive. On February 4, The Trey McIntyre Project will return to New Orleans at NOBA's invitation to premiere the choreographer's companion piece to Ma Maison at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. It too will be set to a score performed live by Preservation Hall Jazz Band. (For tickets, click here.) McIntyre spoke with DM's ENews about the new, as yet unnamed piece, and why he finds New Orleans a source of inspiration.

Why did you decide to choreograph a sequel to Ma Maison?

I'm very interested in the idea of live music, but wary of it. Ma Maison got me out of my comfort zone, and I wanted to go deeper. The new work is set to "St. James Infirmary," which Preservation Hall Band performs as a dirge, and then in an upbeat version. It's about 14 minutes and it has a grand scale-it's really inspiring.

What are the themes? I wanted to deal with the notion of pleasure. Our society maligns pleasure-we see it as self-indulgent-but in New Orleans, it's part of the spiritual journey. And I keep returning to the theme of death, and how death and pleasure relate.

What's it like to work with the Preservation Hall Band? It was so inspiring the first time the dancers and musicians got together. We each had diminished expectations based on prejudices. But the company had sent a video of our work, and the musicians got excited. The minute we walked in the door, there was camaraderie and razor sharp focus. Now the dancers and the musicians have such a give and take.

What appeals to you about New Orleans? My dad took me to the city when I was 6. I remember even then walking down Bourbon Street and being curious about everything. When I danced with Houston Ballet, I always went to New Orleans during my layoffs. It's a place with a very special, loving, and sensual connection with death. They live that connection every day, and it has an effect on how they live every day. You don't know why you like it, but you do.


Preservation Hall Junior Jazz & Heritage Brass Band-with Branford Marsalis!

Check out this video of the Preservation Hall Junior Jazz & Heritage Brass Band performing with Carl LeBlanc and Branford Marsalis!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

French Quarter Business Association Honors Ben Jaffe with 2011 Ambassador Award

The French Quarter Business Association's Ambassador Award was created to recognize the unsung heroes, friends of the French Quarter, individuals who make the French Quarter a more special place by their hard work, spirit, and positive energy.

We're pleased to announce that our very own Ben Jaffe was named this year's recipient of the Ambassador Award last night at the French Quarter Business Association Award and Installation Dinner.

And while we think he looks lovely on the hitching posts out front, he'll most likely be on display in our carriageway the next time you visit.  Stop in and say hi!  Bring him an apple!  We're pretty sure he won't bite...

Many thanks to the French Quarter Business Association for all the wonderful work they do on behalf of our favorite neighborhood.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Discounted Tickets for Trey McIntyre Project with Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Hey PHJB Fans,

Through Jan. 19, New Orleans Ballet Association is offering a discount to PHJB fans for the Trey McIntyre Project with PHJB performance at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre on Feb. 4th. For TWO DAYS ONLY, friends of Preservation Hall will receive a special $10 discount on the regular ticket prices of $40 and $50. All you have to do is call NOBA at 504-522-0996 and mention "PHJB10." Offer not valid on previously purchased tickets and cannot be combined with any other discount. Limit 4 discounted tickets per customer while supplies last. Discount valid through Jan. 19 and only available by calling NOBA at 504-522-0996.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Just announced: Lecture & Demo with King Britt to kick off the Sister Gertrude Experience at the CAC!

Thursday, January 27 at 7:30 
To kick off the weekend of shows, Britt will lecture on his experiences in the music industry through the lens of a career spanning touring with the Grammy-award winning Digable Planets in 1992 to connecting with the legacy of Sister Gertrude, New Orleans' folk art icon in 2004 to his recent work scoring films and TV shows including Michael Mann's Miami Vice. Free Admission. Cash Bar. 
Sister Gertrude photograph by Sylvia de Swaan

Lineup For Seventh Annual Mountain Jam Announced - With PHJB!

Not too long ago, USA Today opined that the Preservation Hall Jazz Band offered "proof that the music pioneered in New Orleans a century ago was the clear progenitor of today's jam-band phenomenon."

And it seems they're not alone.

Yesterday, the lineup for the seventh annual Mountain Jam music festival was announced.  Presented by Radio Woodstock and Warren Haynes (Gov't Mule, The Allman Brothers Band), this four-day festival of music and camping will feature performances from such jam band favorites as Gov't Mule, Electric Hot Tuna, My Morning Jacket, The North Mississippi Allstars, and Bela Fleck & The Flecktones.  And right alongside them, bringing some scorching trad jazz to the mix, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band!

Look out, New York!

Monday, January 10, 2011

PHJB and Trey McIntrye reunite in New Oreans February 4th

New Orleans Ballet Association

NOBA commissions new work that reunites
Trey McIntyre Project and Preservation Hall Jazz Band
A one night only world premiere event!

“The wildly popular Trey McIntyre Project returns
with its own brand of fresh and forward thinking dance.”

– The Washington Post

The New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA) is thrilled to reunite two remarkable creative forces, Trey McIntyre Project (TMP) and Preservation Hall Jazz Band (PHJB), in an extraordinary world premiere event on February 4 at 8pm at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. This exclusive one-night only performance marks the second time that NOBA, TMP and PHJB have teamed up to create a shared evening of music and dance.

When TMP blasted onto the international dance scene in 2008, NOBA engaged the company’s trailblazing choreographer, Trey McIntyre, to create a new work set to New Orleans jazz music. The result was Ma Maison, the critically-acclaimed piece with PHJB that has since toured the world to rave reviews, including a recent special appearance at a New Orleans jazz event at the Hollywood Bowl for 7,000 people that was hailed as “shockingly powerful” and “one of the most stunning performances all year” by The LAist.

As an encore to this triumphant debut, McIntyre and PHJB Creative Director Ben Jaffe partner once more to produce a new work that will personify the iconic culture of New Orleans. The creative duo has spent the past year selecting music and producing new arrangements that explore the countless musical influences of New Orleans, including the French West Indies, Blues, and Creole music. The outcome is a hand-crafted soundtrack of signature jazz styles featuring the debut of newly-composed music by PHJB, as well as a re-mix of legendary hip-hop DJ King Britt’s version of the classic American folksong, St. James Infirmary.

“For me, it has been special to work with Trey,” said Jaffe. “He has an open mind and open heart to explore and truly sees what the possibilities are. Trey is a huge fan of music and a fan of PHJB.”

TMP is a prolific American company on the international dance scene. PHJB, currently celebrating its 50th Anniversary, is the legendary champion of New Orleans jazz.

Together, and for one night only, ten phenomenal dancers will unite with seven illustrious musicians on stage in a world premiere experience that will include an exclusive encore main stage presentation of Ma Maison.

“I am looking at the idea of pleasure in New Orleans culture,” said McIntyre. “Pleasure is given more credence and importance here than in other places in America. Everywhere you go people want to welcome you into their world and make you feel comfortable and good.”

“NOBA remains dedicated to perpetuating and strengthening the performing arts with important commissions of new work. We are honored to bring these two creative geniuses back together for a second world premiere that showcases our very own Preservation Hall Jazz Band with one of the hottest and most acclaimed dance makers in the world today,” said NOBA Executive Director, Jenny Hamilton.

The new work also features costumes by acclaimed costume designer Andrea Lauer. Following her recent success on Broadway’s megahit American Idiot, Lauer fashions both contemporary and period costumes of custom-made denim, courtesy of the pioneering LEVI STRAUSS & CO. Lauer deconstructs this signature American fabric and uses special silk screening and paint treatments inspired by the colors and textures of the city, to incorporate images that echo the unique street signs, tiles, and graffiti of New Orleans. “I came to love the diversity of Levi Strauss & Co. through my experience on American Idiot,” said Lauer. “I am constantly exploring denim that people cannot only look and feel great in, but that you can also DANCE in!”

McIntyre has been creating fresh and innovative works for over 20 years. With the dance world hungry for new voices, McIntyre’s career has sky-rocketed. Rooted in classical ballet, his in-demand dances are hip, contemporary and set to a brilliant variety of music from Brubeck and The Beatles to Beethoven and Beck. Since the debut of his first work in 1990 for Houston Ballet, he has created over 70 ballets for more than 30 prestigious companies, including American Ballet Theatre, Stuttgart Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. In December 2010, McIntyre was selected as one of 50 artists to receive the prestigious 2010 United States Artists fellowship.

Tickets for the performance range from $20 to $80. Students and seniors (65 and older) receive a $6 discount off the regular ticket prices. Group discounts also are available. For tickets or information, call the New Orleans Ballet Association Box Office at (504) 522-0996. Tickets may be purchased online through, or via Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 or

In addition to the performances, the company will also spend a week in residency working with the New Orleans community. The residency will feature a post-performance discussion with the dancers and musicians immediately following the Friday evening performance. The company will conduct a master class on Saturday, February 5 at Tulane University’s McWilliams Hall for the NORD/NOBA Center For Dance and an additional class earlier in the week (date/time TBA) for NOCCA students. Free SpUrban performances (Spontaneous, urban performances) will also be conducted at various locations around the metropolitan area throughout the week. For more information about residency opportunities call (504) 522-0996 x. 207 or email

This event is sponsored by AT&T. The world premiere work has been co-commissioned by the New Orleans Ballet Association with generous support from Kerry Clayton and Paige Royer. Support of the live music is provided in part by New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.

King Britt brings The Sister Gertrude Experience to the CAC in New Orleans! (01.28.11 & 01.29.11)

Photograph of Sister Gertrude Morgan by Sylvia de Swaan
In 2005, Philadelphia-based DJ and Producer King Britt released a sonic re-interpretation of the 1968 recordings of Sister Gertrude Morgan. Remastered just two years earlier by Ben Jaffe of Preservation Hall, the re-release of these long-forgotten tracks had caused quite a stir in the gospel world. Sister Gertrude had been lauded for years as a seminal figure in the Outsider or Folk Art scene. Now, at long last, her voice and proto-gospel spiritual call were available to the public once again. 

Please join us in welcoming King Britt and the Sister Gertrude project back to New Orleans on Friday, January 28th and Saturday, January 29th at the CAC.  The cycle of ten songs that is "Sister Gertrude" mixes gospel hymns with funk and soul melodies and Britt's deep percussive beats. The live ensemble includes King Britt on turntables and samplers, Tim Motzer on guitar, Chuck Treece on drums, Mark Boyce on keyboards and Barry Meehan on bass, as a full multimedia performance, featuring live video mixing by the Absent Productions VJ crew.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sandra Jaffe Interview in Harcum College's Patches Magazine

At Harcum College's most recent Homecoming, Preservation Hall's Sandra Jaffe was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Alumni Board's highest honor. Below is an interview in Harcum's Patches Magazine:

For the love of Jazz
How 1958 Alumna Sandra Smolen Jaffe’s encounter with jazz inspired the creation of New Orleans’ Preservation Hall, and fostered a life of culture and music
By Suzanne Cotter, Patches: The Magazine for Al
umni & Friends of Harcum College, Winter 2011

Raised in Wynnefield, PA, Sandra rode the train to Harcum every day - which dropped her off at the Bryn Mawr station right next to campus. She stud-ied Journalism and public relations, and eventually became involved in a myriad of activities and clubs. She served as the feature editor of the newspaper as well as a member of the yearbook staff, the Mobile staff, Campus Chest and Delta Psi Omega.

As she progressed, Sandra remembers quickly becoming involved in the arts. "I had never been an artist," she confesses. "Maybe I took an art class in high school, but that was really it. I decided to take an art class at Harcum with Martin Zipin, and suddenly found myself drawing every day It was absolutely marvelous," she recalls.

Sandra also starred in the play "Cry Havoc," which was performed in the Little Theatre. "I had no intention of being an actress, but I really enjoyed being involved in the production. It was hard work and I was often required to stay late. They were memorable moments," she recalls.

After graduating from Harcum in 1958, Sandra spent two years working at a Philadelphia-area advertising agency while attending classes at the University of Pennsylvania in the evenings. She met her husband Allan while watching a play in Fairmount Park. "He always insisted we had seen an Arthur Miller play, but I think it was Tennessee Williams ... it was a long- standing argument;" she Jokes.

Sandra and Allan soon married and drove down to Mexico City, where the couple lived for about a year. On their way back to Philadelphia, Allan suggested they make a pit-stop in New Orleans. "During his military service, before we met, Allan was stationed near Louisiana. On his weekends off he would travel to New Orleans," Sandra remembers. "He told me all about how lovely the French Quarter was, and that I absolutely had to see this place - that I would love it," she says.

As Sandra and Allan toured New Orleans, she recalls her introduction to authentic New Orleans jazz. They had been following musicians around for a few days, and ended up in an art studio which was hosting a small band performance. "When I heard the music for the first time, it felt like a total transformation. We found this whole new world ... the music was just so wonderful."

Upon seeing the band, Sandra and Allan decided to stay in New Orleans for a few more days - just enough time to hear-them play again. "Our parents were expecting us back in Philadelphia any day," she laughs, "but we just had to stay a little longer." That is, until the Jaffes were given an opportunity they couldn't turn down.

That evening, the owner told the couple the gallery would soon be moving, and that the space would be available if they wanted it. 'We didn't even think twice about it," Sandra recalls, "it wasn't even a thought. 'Of course,' we said, and that was the beginning of Preservation Hall' We never left New Orleans."

During the early months of 1961 and the beginning stages of Preservation Hall's creation, the Jaffes spent much of their time taking in all that the French Quarter had to offer, including music, food, and new people. "We only knew one person - one of my husbands fraternity brothers," Sandra says, "and I had never had anything fried before!" Preservation Hall was officially opened during the summer of 1961, and the venue welcomed retiring jazz musicians and enthusiastic patrons a few times a week.

As the space evolved and their following grew, Sandra and Allan began holding live sessions just about every night. "We had to start charging," she recalls, "and in order to get people to come out to our sessions, I relied on the skills I had learned in journalism. I had to make up schedules and use a press. Most of what I was doing was a reflection of what I had learned at Harcum and at my first job."

The Hall has since evolved to include the Preservation Hall Band, currently under the direction of Sandra's son Ben. The band has traveled worldwide, spreading its mission to nurture and perpetuate the art form that is New Orleans jazz. Whether performing at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center, for British royalty or the King of Thailand, the band conveys a Joyful, timeless spirit.

Today, Preservation Hall is one of the highest -esteemed jazz performance venues in the country The space serves mainly as a musical sanctuary which aims to protect and honor New Orleans jazz, a style Jaffe hopes to preserve through her work.

In 2006, the Band received the National Medal of Arts Award. Ben and Sandy accepted the award from President George and Mrs. Laura Bush in an Oval Office ceremony on November 9 of that year. The citations reads: "With enormous talent and pride, thisageless ensemble has toured the world displaying the unbreakable spirit of New Orleans and sharing the joy of New Orleans jazz with us all."

During Harcum's most recent Homecoming, Sandra was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Alumni Boards highest honor, during a Creole-themed alumni tea at the President's house. 'The world has really changed for women," Sandra says, "and I was so happy to witness the wonderful things/hat have happened at Harcum over the years. It was also great to see the other honorees, and to hear about the success of such wonderful men and women."

Sandra explains that it feels great to see young people being introduced to jazz. She also says: "even for a Harcum student who happens to study in the health care field, for example, getting involved in something creative is invaluable. I totally encourage it.”

As the venue's 50th anniversary approaches, Sandra admits that she still loves the music: "I never get tired of it. There’s no way to leave a performance and not be happy after hearing such beautiful music. The fact that Preservation Hall is still there, and that there's still a place for music to be heard ... thats the most satisfying part."