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Published: 2012/05/07

Preservation Hall Jazz Band Celebrates 50 Years with Ani, MMJ, George Wein, Steve Earle, Trombone Shorty and More

Photos by Dino Perrucci

Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s 50th anniversary celebration continued throughout New Orleans this past weekend. The New Orleans institution kicked off their 50th anniversary celebration with a guest-heavy show at New York’s Carnegie Hall in January, and the group revisited the revue concept during two shows in their hometown this weekend.

On Saturday night, Preservation Hall Jazz Band partnered with Bonnaroo promoters Superfly and Governors Ball promoters Founders Entertainment for the Crescent City Revue at New Orleans’ Joy Theatre. In addition to previously confirmed guests like The Dirty Dozen Brass Band horns, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Stanton Moore, Leo Nocentelli, Ivan Neville, Benny Jones & Uncle Lionel (of Treme Brass Band), Fleur De Tease, Pedrito Martinez, Ernie Vincent, David Torkanowsky and Little Freddie King, My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James joined the band for a take on “St. James Infirmary.” James recorded the song for a recent Preservation Hall tribute project, which has led to a long series of collaborations between the two ensembles.

Earlier in the afternoon, the members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band also sat in with My Morning Jacket at the Fairgrounds for “Off The Record,” “Holdin’ On To Black Metal” and “One Big Holiday.” Before the members of Preservation Hall Jazz Band took the stage, James described the group—whose members’ ages range from their 30s to their 80s—as “our oldest friends in the whole wide world.”

A more formal tribute to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band took place on the Fairgrounds’ Gentilly Stage on Sunday evening. As he did at Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s Carnegie Hall performance, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival founder George Wein, a noted piano player in his own right, introduced the band at the start of their set. Preservation Hall Jazz Band then proceeded to invite an eclectic mix of musicians to the stage, including Trombone Shorty, Allen Toussaint and Bonnie Raitt and members of Rebirth Brass Band.

Outside the jazz and funk realms, New Orleans resident Ani DiFranco also joined the band for a song she recently recorded with named “Freight Train” while James offered an encore cover of “St. James Infirmary.” Like his Carnegie Hall guest spot, Steve Earle emerged for “Tain’t Nobody’s Business.” According to, trumpeter Lionel Ferbos, who the paper describes as “at 100 the city’s oldest active jazz musician,” trombonist Wendell Eugene and members Preservation Hall Junior Jazz Band also emerged at the end of the show, which climaxed with “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “I’ ll Fly Away.”

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