"The Past and Promise of American Music..."—Rolling Stone Magazine
Tickets: Reserved Seating $28, $38, $48
The popularity of traditional New Orleans jazz had waned leading up to the 1960s, putting many musicians out of work. There were few jazz connoisseurs actively capturing the traditions of New Orleans jazz during this time. New Orleans Jazz historian William "Bill" Russell led the traditional jazz revival through his persistent documenting and recording. When Allan and Sandra Jaffe transformed the 726 venue into Preservation Hall in 1961, they made it a point to integrate and highlight jazz musicians who were present during the birth of jazz through hosting nightly performances. These musicians included George Lewis, and "Sweet" Emma Barrett, who led bands under their own names.
During the time of Preservation Hall’s incarnation, New Orleans was a racially segregated community under Jim Crow laws. Preservation Hall was among the few venues in New Orleans that welcomed both Caucasian and African-American musicians.
The nightly jazz concerts at Preservation Hall gathered a significant amount of press interest from its inception. As time went on, Allan believed the success of both the Hall and its mission of preservation would require these bands to tour, and in 1963, he organized the newly minted Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which was essentially the Kid Thomas Band (Kid Thomas Valentine, George Lewis, Louis Nelson, Emanuel Paul, Joe James, Joe “Twat” Butler, and Sammy Penn). Their first string of dates were set in the midwest and included a performance at the Guthrie Theater, a venue that future Preservation Hall Jazz Bands would later record at.