The Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Drummer Joe Lastie

July 8, 2006. The legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans played a set at Amoeba Music on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, and I was in the front row, laughing, dancing, clapping my hands and taking pictures.

Trombonist Frank Demond, clarinetist Ralph Johnson, with trumpeter John Brunious singing, and alto saxophonist Darrel Adams

Hundreds of Hollywood hipsters jammed the aisles of the record store, loving the music.

Each player solo’d beautifully, the shout choruses at the end of each song thrilled us, and three of the players sang as only old jazz musicians can sing.

Bass player Walter Payton sings

During the last song of the set, (“Saints,” of course) the store staff distributed Mardi Gras beads, horns and bells, and the four horn players lead us in a second line, dancing around the store.

Clarinetist Ralph Johnson

After the set, the store held a charity auction to raise money for the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund, which was originally founded by the Preservation Hall Jazz Society.

Carl Le Blanc plays banjo

I bought one of the band’s CDs. I asked trumpet player/vocalist John Brunious, which was their most recent recording. He said, “This is what you want (pointing to Shake That Thing), but THIS is what you need.” THIS turned out to be Sweet Emma and her Preservation Hall Jazz Band, a two-CD set of a remastered 1964 recording with an earlier line-up of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, featuring a 66 year old woman pianist/vocalist named Sweet Emma Barrett. Sweet, indeed!

Alicia having fun at Amoeba Music

I gave John a copy of What Living’s All About, and hoped he’d enjoy Floozy Tune, my trad jazz original that opens the CD. He was kind enough to write down the names of the players so I could share them with you on this post.

Front entrance. The store occupies an entire city block.

Amoeba Music’s wild success as an independent record store stems from the party atmosphere, the great concerts, the vast, yet well organized, array of new CDs and DVDs as well as cheap used CDs and videos, their purchasing department, which buys lots of used items, as well as new, but relatively unknown, indie CDs like mine, the amazing decor, and the knowledgable staff. They have only three stores (Berkeley, Haight Ashbury, and Hollywood), all in locations with very large creative communities. They are not shy about their politics, either. On the outside of the Hollywood store hangs a huge yellow banner reading, “Give Peace a Chance.”

Amoeba Music’s mural on Ivar Street.