Post image for Los Angeles Music Preview: PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND & THE DUSTBOWL REVIVAL (Ford)

by Tony Frankel on June 30, 2014

in Theater-Los Angeles,Tours


I first visited New Orleans in August, 1978. I only had one night to spend in the French Quarter and swore I would take in every known debauchery in that short span. At that time, the legal drinking age was 18 in the Quarter (the federal government has since insisted it be changed to 21), so my first stop was Pat O’Brien’s for a Hurricane, a sweet alcoholic drink consisting of rum, passion fruit syrup, and lime juice served in a touristy Hurricane lamp globe-shaped glass. As if purchasing a cocktail wasn’t exciting enough, I was thrilled that strolling down the street with this open container was also legal. Now I could head off to bars and brothels on a regimen of beignets and booze!

PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND's new CD, THAT'S IT!But that never happened. Situated right near Pat O’Brien’s on St. Peter Street was the location where I would spend my entire evening: Preservation Hall. The traditional New Orleans jazz turned out to be the happiest music I had ever encountered. This was the style of jazz which emerged from the early 20th century as part of a broad musical revolution encompassing ragtime, blues, spirituals, marches, and the popular fare of “Tin Pan Alley.” With elements including stop-time, breaks, and ensemble riffing (a.k.a. collective improvisation), this style of music rose to popularity because the be-bopping sound incites happy feet, and dancing had long been a mainstay of New Orleans nightlife. There was no room to move in the steamy, crowded Hall on the night I attended, but both my limbs and my soul took flight. The joy that bounced between player and spectator was infectious, communal, and life-affirming. There happened to be 4 shows that night, and I happily dashed outside after each show to get back in line for the next.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band 1966 - photo by Ralph Cowan.When the Hall opened in 1961, most of the musicians were elderly, many of whom were contemporaries of bandleader Charles “Buddy” Bolden and other early jazz practitioners. While members have evolved over the years, the music has been preserved as a live art form for generations to come. In 1963, the newly minted Preservation Hall Jazz Band (PHJB) began touring the world, and you can experience the legendary, toe-tapping sounds of the band as it teams up with The Dustbowl Revival to open the Zev Yaroslavsky Signature Series at the Ford Amphitheatre this Saturday, July 5.

You will be treated to timeless sounds by the best musicians in the land, but expect a fresh take as well: PHJB will offer up selections from their latest album, That’s It! The band has created numerous albums over the years, but this 2013 release is the first in the band’s history to include all original material. Here’s a short documentary about the making of That’s It!, an album which was actually recorded onsite in the hallowed Preservation Hall:

Preservation Hall Jazz Band performing “That’s It!” live from Brooklyn Bowl:

Opening for PHJB is The Dustbowl Revival. The rambling, rolling spirit that lit a fire under the past two centuries of Westward migration in America is alive and well in the music of this Los Angeles-based roots music collective. Their high-spirited blend of old school bluegrass, gospel, jug-band, swamp blues, piercing brass blasts, and the hot swing of the 1930’s has made them one of the hottest roots music bands in LA and on tour.

The Dustbowl Revival - POSTERThat’s what happens when you owe your allegiance to old-school inspirations like Louis Armstrong’s Hot Sevens, Fats Waller’s barrelhouse vibe, Bessie Smith’s ass-kicking backroom blues, and New Orleans brass bands. Growing steadily from a small string band playing up and down the west coast (hundreds of shows in the last two years), The Dustbowl Revival has blossomed into a traveling collective featuring instrumentation that includes fiddle, mandolin, trombone, clarinet, trumpet, banjo, accordion, tuba, pedal steel, drums, guitars, a bass made from a canoe oar, harmonica, and plenty of washboard and kazoo for good luck. This ain’t no fake-mustached hipster revivalism here; The Dustbowl Revival are the real deal, shouting and hollering the nearly derailed, buzz-saw crazed music of the American South that first inspired them.

The Dustbowl Revival’s new video of a bawdy tale, “The Ballad of the Bellhop”:

Check out The Dustbowl Revival’s latest album, Carry Me Home. Merging their vintage style with a hip, lose-your-troubles-and-start-moving vibe, the record perfectly encompasses the band’s upbeat message:

Preservation Hall producer and musician Ben Jaffe (son of original producer, Preservation Hall Jazz Band member and founder Allan Jaffe) wrote, “I get great pleasure out of a song that has been interpreted, reinterpreted and performed for years and is still as fresh and new as the day it was born… That’s something music does… stretch time, overlap traditions, change history… New Orleans Music is meaningful… It is vital and full of life. It can be happy and joyous. It can be sad and mournful. It has no language barrier. It delivers a universal message that we, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, carry with us everywhere we travel.”


Preservation Hall Jazz Band and The Dustbowl Revival
Ford Amphitheatre
2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East in Hollywood
Saturday, July 5 at 8 pm
for tickets, call (323) 461-3673 or visit www.FordTheatres.org
on site stacked parking: $5 per vehicle
FREE satellite parking and FREE shuttle to the Ford
available at Universal City/Studio City Metro Station
for more info, visit www.preservationhalljazzband.com
and www.dustbowlrevival.com

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