New Orleans: The day that Preservation Hall saved

As I marched restlessly around the French Quarter on my final day in New Orleans, a combination of: (a) unmanaged expectations; and (b) PMS, left me disgruntled.

Where was the Jazz?!

Of all the places I’d been, New Orleans was probably the one that I had any preconceptions about (probably unfairly). I blame Ryan Gosling for this… or at least my misconception of what he described in La La Land.  I was yet to find the high stakes jazz performances that he described.

I’d seen some great musicians doing some covers of classics, but felt that tourism had maybe hurt the authenticity of musicians’ choices.

Before that day I’d had many wonderful moments.  I’d met some excellent humans, experienced the second line for Tom Benson’s jazz funeral and been moved by the march for gun control (where the high pitched chanting of unbroken voices rang clear).

Something didn’t feel complete.

My mood meant that I almost sacked off a place that had been on my list: Preservation Hall.  Preservation Hall is a space, record label and organisation which was established in 1961 to protect the very thing that had been missing from my trip: traditional New Orleans Jazz.

I lined up (queued) from just after 4pm for the 5pm show. There are shows at 5, 6, 7 and 8pm daily.  It’s $20 for standing room at the show, and it’s totally worth it.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band played a wonderfully entertaining 45 minute set complete with all the improvisation and risk taking that I’d wanted.  This included an advanced trombone solo in Basin Street Blues, a solo I’d played a watered down version of in my trombone-wielding days. Those days when I had no concept of Basin Street’s geographical location (New Orleans).

After the show I was content and flying. I bloody loved it and it washed my grumpy ways away.

If you go to New Orleans, please go and support this important organisation.

Thanks for reading.

Em x

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