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American Legacies - Coming to the Aronoff Center

Jazz and Bluegrass comes together at the Aronoff Center, with The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and The Del McCoury Band
Jazz and Bluegrass comes together at the Aronoff Center, with The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and The Del McCoury Band
courtesy: Van Ackerman; Cincinnati Arts Association

On one hand, you have Jazz, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band of New Orleans, the city where it all began. The band, named after the legendary music venue founded in 1961 and located in the heart of the French Quarter, travels around the world spreading their mission to nurture and perpetuate the art form of New Orleans Jazz.

On the other hand, you have Bluegrass, and the Del McCoury Band, with bandleader and guitarist, Del McCoury, celebrating 50-plus years of authentic traditional Bluegrass music. The band’s fan base spans across demographics, from notable dignitaries such as Vince Gill and Elvis Costello, to younger generations embracing the art of bluegrass for the first time.

To the genuine music enthusiast, there is an appreciation for the undeniable common ground of Jazz and Bluegrass. Their grassroots birth in the American South represented more than music, it was life; and they both serve as the foundation of various genres of music heard this very day.

Combine the two groups and you have something truly special – of unprecedented proportions. On the evening of May 20th, the Cincinnati Arts Association presents, American Legacies – featuring the Preservation Hall Jazz Band performing with the Del McCoury Band, live at the Aronoff Center. This event is part of the Association’s “Let’s Play” season.

The American Legacies show is one night only, starting at 8:00pm on Friday, May 20th at the Aronoff Center. Be sure to get your tickets early for this spectacular show. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling (513) 621-ARTS [2787], or you can visit the Aronoff Center Ticket Office.

To learn more about the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, visit their website at

To learn more about the Del McCoury Band, visit

The Jazz Half sat with Van Ackerman, the CAA’s Marketing Director to chat about the upcoming show. The following is an excerpt from their conversation:

JH: Can you tell me more about the CAA’s “Let’s Play” season, and how it differs from your other shows?
VA: Each year, the Cincinnati Arts Association – the local not-for-profit organization which manages and operates the Aronoff Center and Music Hall – presents a variety of shows designed to reach a diverse audience base. “Let’s Play” is the tag line for our 2010-11 Season – a season that invites Tri-state audiences to have a playful night out at the Aronoff Center or Music Hall and experience some of the finest musicians and performers in the world playing some of the best music ever written. These intriguing additions to another vibrant Cincinnati arts season continued CAA’s long-standing mission of presenting an eclectic mix of alternative entertainment choices to Cincinnati theater-goers. The exciting Let’s Play season featured the return of many audience favorites, and offered something for just about everyone. American Legacies is the last show of our season, which also included the incomparable Vienna Boys Choir; DrumLine Live!, a show-stopping production that brings the African American marching band tradition to the theatrical stage; American country/folk legend John Prine; inspirational Contemporary Christian star, Michael W. Smith in his spectacular It’s a Wonderful Christmas Tour; the acclaimed tribute band RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles; the rocking sounds of Get the Led Out, dubbed by the media as “The American Led Zeppelin”; one of the longest-running one-man comedies in history, Steve Solomon in My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish and I’m in Therapy; a Valentine’s Day concert with America’s Romantic Piano Sensation, Jim Brickman; and another popular tribute band, The Pink Floyd Experience.

JH: American Legacies is quite a unique event. Do you think this show will present the opportunity to educate, as well as entertain?
VA: Most definitely. One thing we find most interesting about this show is that it features two iconic and legendary music groups that are still at the top of their craft, and will each attract their own fans. We believe there is a great opportunity with this concert for cross-pollination – to educate and inspire bluegrass fans about New Orleans Jazz, and New Orleans Jazz fans about bluegrass. It is also a rare opportunity to see and hear the two American Legacies live on stage together – that experience alone promises to be not only incredibly entertaining, but also educational, as the audience will learn more about each group.

JH: Where would you say Cincinnati fits in the history of these two genres?
VA: Cincinnati has a rich music history, as is evidenced by our beloved Music Hall; music institutions such as the May Festival, Cincinnati Symphony, and Cincinnati Opera; various regional music festivals; and the amount of recording that has occurred in this area. Jazz recording in the Cincinnati area dates back to the piano rolls of Jelly Roll Morton in the 1920’s. Louis Armstrong's made his early recordings in the area and Fats Waller was a regular on WLW. Later on in the Big Band era, local singers like Doris Day, Andy Williams, and Rosemary Clooney started their careers in Cincinnati, and went on to international fame. Bluegrass, or Mountain music, was a staple of Cincinnati’s legendary King Records, where pioneer artists such as the Stanley Brothers, Homer & Jethro, and Grandpa Jones made their early recordings. The close proximity to Appalachia has helped keep Bluegrass a part of the Cincinnati music scene. The famed Blue Wisp Jazz Club (blocks from the Aronoff Center) and the Tall Stacks Music Arts and Heritage Festival are additional testaments to our city’s connection to these musical forms.

JH: If I were a new listener of Jazz or Bluegrass or both, would this be a good show for me to see?
VA: This is perhaps THE show to see – both for new listeners of jazz and/or bluegrass and for long-time fans of these uniquely American musical forms. Both of these award-winning bands are at the top of their fields and are simply the best of the best… thus the show title American Legacies. Together in concert, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Del McCoury Band create a seamless blend of soul-lifting traditional harmonies as the high and
lonesome sound of the Appalachians meets the hot and lively jazz of New Orleans. Audiences will thrill to this very special opportunity to witness the coming together of two legendary groups of musicians from two distinctly American musical lineages.

JH: Fill in the blank: This show will leave the audience _______________
VA: Entertained, inspired, and uplifted.

JH: Van, thanks so much for your time.
VA: My Pleasure.


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