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Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Blending traditional jazz and bluegrass

Midnight Preserves Concert

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Midnight Preserves has become a traditional series during the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival to raise funds for the foundation. This year the series kicked off Friday night, April 25, 2014. Normally, the shows have had musical guests announced to play with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. They have decided to keep the identity of the guests a secret this year.

Special guests The Infamous Stringdusters
Special guests The Infamous Stringdusters© MF Andrews

The first surprise guest arrived while patrons waited to get inside the venue. Flavor Flav from Public Enemy stopped by and posed for a few photos while he was whisked inside the venue. Many waiting were wondering what the hip-hop star’s connection to the band was. The venue personnel were still not revealing who the secret performer was going to be.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band derives its name from the small music hall where it plays their traditional New Orleans-style jazz music in the French Quarter in New Orleans. The band has been in existence since the 1960s. The members of the band have changed throughout the years. The band has toured worldwide since its inception. They continue to tour in order to bring traditional jazz to the masses. For more information on the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, click here.

The show last night started with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band performing some of their music. Many members of the band sing as well as playing their instruments. Their eldest member is 82 year-old Charlie Gabriel. He is the band’s clarinet/saxophone player and he sings.

The band played at this years’ Coachella Festival in California. Ben Jaffe, the band’s director, announced the guests as a band they met in the parking lot as they were leaving Coachella. They invited Colorado’s Infamous Stringdusters to open this year’s Midnight Preserves. This five member acoustic band took the tiny “stage” with the eight-member Preservation Hall Band to produce one of the richest concert sounds imagined. The venue only holds approximately 100 plus patrons.

The Infamous Stringdusters had arrived immediately from their appearance at the House of Blues’ Parrish earlier in the evening. They are kicking off their “I’ll Get Away” tour here and are promoting their new album “Let It Go.” After playing a few songs with the Preservation Hall Band, the Infamous Stringdusters played several solo songs including the title cut to the new album. Their pop bluegrass sound blended beautifully with Preservation Hall’s traditional Jazz. For more information on the Infamous Stringdusters, click here.

There was no appearance on stage with Flavor Flav, but his appearance was an exciting extra ingredient to a rich midnight show. It will be fun to see who will be the guests at the rest of the Jazz Fest shows.