There was a time when, for all their authentic roots and virtuosity, New Orleans' Preservation Hall Jazz Band was mostly regarded as a bunch of old dudes who played traditional Dixieland tunes for the enjoyment of tourists who were en route to Pat O'Brien's for a hurricane.
There was nothing wrong with the music - just the perception - but the modern day, post-Katrina Preservation Hall Band is vibrant, tri-generational and explores the city's archival past with respect but also a finely tuned ear towards contemporary music. Their recent "Preservation" album, for example, featured such guests as Tom Waits, Del McCoury, Andrew Bird, Jim James from My Morning Jacket, Richie Havens, Brandi Carlile, the Blind Boys of Alabama and Merle Haggard.
The Preservation Hall Jazz Band is out on its 50th anniversary tour and play tonight in Waterford's Harkness Memorial Park as part of the August Nights at Harkness ... Music the Way It Was concert series. In support is Jim Stewart's Jump, Swing, Fever Orchestra, and the Sugarfoot Youth Jazz Band will be the evening's Youth Performers.
- RICK KOSTER
August Nights at Harkness ... Music the Way It Was presents the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, 5:30 tonight, gates open at 4 p.m. for picnicking, Harkness Memorial State Park, 275 Great Neck Road, Waterford; $30, $20 group rate for 10 or more, VIP packages available; (860) 434-1882, bringourmusicback.org.