High Lonesome on St Peter St: The Preservation Hall and Del McCoury collaboration
Its not really cool to say you like the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Its cool to like Big Sam, Trombone Shorty, and Dumpstaphunk. But to say you like Preservation Hall is kind of like saying you dig playing shuffleboard on a cruise ship while Guy Lombardo plays.
The hell with being cool. Do these guys look like they could give two hoots about being cool?
The Pres Hall guys play music so infectious that concepts like coolness get cast aside like a freshly sucked crawfish tail. Perceptions that the PHJB is a nostalgia act and coasts on its reputation could have been valid until recently. Under the steady hand of Ben Jaffe, the group of guys has spread their wings like so many New Orleans acts and taken off on the wave of Katrina. Recent releases show the PHJB teaming up with Pete Seeger, Tom Waits, Ani Difranco and Buddy Miller. The band whom everyone kind of assumed was safe as milk and about as adventurous, has suddenly shattered its rusty french quarter grille and strolled confidently out into the modern world. And what a stroll its turned out to be with everyone and their uncle eager to sit in for a tune or two. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to reawaken interest in a treasure under our collective nose.
Perhaps the most lasting of these musical encounters was the most unlikely. The undisputed masters of traditional Bluegrass music, the Del McCoury Band, have clicked with the PHJB in a delightful and fascinating way. Without either group sacrificing their identity, the two bands have found a deep common vein of supremely soulful material to explore. Their collective delight is palpable and after several gigs together, the two groups headed into a San Francisco studio in early July to record again. This time, most likely for a full length release. A tour is in the works and will extend into next year.