Entertainment Highlights: Preservation Hall Jazz Band Brings Tradition, Dancing

  • The Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans will perform next Thursday in Lebanon in a benefit for Child and Family Services. (Courtesy photograph)

    The Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans will perform next Thursday in Lebanon in a benefit for Child and Family Services. (Courtesy photograph)

  • Debo Band will give a free concert next Thursday on the Dartmouth Green at 5 p.m. (Courtesy photograph)

    Debo Band will give a free concert next Thursday on the Dartmouth Green at 5 p.m. (Courtesy photograph)

  • The Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans will perform next Thursday in Lebanon in a benefit for Child and Family Services. (Courtesy photograph)
  • Debo Band will give a free concert next Thursday on the Dartmouth Green at 5 p.m. (Courtesy photograph)

In New Orleans, when a band starts playing, people dance. During a parade, it’s hard to tell who’s in the band and who’s in the audience.

So says Ben Jaffe, creative director and tuba player in the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the New Orleans jazz stalwarts set to play the Lebanon Opera House next Thursday. He, like his bandmates, grew up in the city’s intensely musical French Quarter, an area steeped in tradition and home to the music hall that gives the band its name.

So when the band goes on tour, leaving New Orleans and touching down in throbbing cultural hot spots like Illinois and Ohio, what’s its goal?

“There’s a lot of cultural nuances to what we do,” Jaffe said in an interview. “And that’s part of the excitement, and part of why we do what we do. It’s not just to play music, but also bring people’s attention to our musical tradition.”

This particular tradition dates back to 1961, when the band was founded by Allan and Sandra Jaffe, Ben’s parents. It began to tour two years later, playing standards and working with jazz stars of the era.

Over time, some members moved on, opening the band up to a slightly younger group of musicians. Jaffe has been creative director since after Hurricane Katrina in 2005; he’s spent two decades with the group overall, which now has a core of eight members and functions, in a way, as ambassadors of New Orleans jazz.

“I think that we wear that very well,” Jaffe said. “We wear it as a badge of honor, that we go out and get to see the world, and interact with audiences and people.”

Usually, he said, there’s a fan or two in the crowd who get the rest of the audience dancing.

Thursday’s show is a fundraiser, in the Child and Family Services Concerts for the Cause series, in its 28th year. According to communications Director Kat Strange, previous concerts — with a fundraising goal this year of $30,000 — brought artists such as Don McClean and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals to the Upper Valley.

All of the money raised at the Lebanon concert will go back to Upper Valley families, said Child and Family Services Upper Valley Program Director Jeanette Birge. Later this year, concerts in Concord (Blues Traveler) and Manchester (no one yet booked) will do the same for other portions of New Hampshire.

Organizers said the Preservation Hall Jazz Band was a perfect fit.

“They have great popular appeal, a terrific track record for their live performances in the Northeast, and our board was thrilled when their name came up as a possibility,” Strange wrote in an email. “Their big splash at this year’s Grammys sort of sealed the deal.”

At the Grammys, the band appeared alongside six-time Grammy-winner Dr. John and the modern, gritty rock band The Black Keys, performing the latter’s song, Lonely Boy.

Jaffe said that crossing the musical aisle is an important step for a band known for its traditions and performing jazz standards. On July 9, Preservation Hall will release its first album of original compositions, That’s It!, which was co-produced by My Morning Jacket singer Jim James.

“I feel like their music is in a place where, for some reason, the axis of the universe has turned,” James says in a video promoting That’s It! “I feel like people are open to it again.”

Jaffe said that as musical ambassadors of a celebratory culture, one goal stays the same for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. “Every time we play music, people get happy,” he said. “There should be more happiness in the world. There should be more joy and there should be more happiness.”

Preservation Hall Jazz Band will play the Lebanon Opera House at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 27. Tickets cost $37.50 each. VIP packages, which include priority seats and an invite to a reception before the show at AVA Art Gallery, are $75 each.


Debo Band, the eleven-member throwback Ethiopian funk collective (from Boston — got it?), will play a free concert on the Hanover Green at 5 p.m. next Thursday. The group released a self-titled album last year, its debut for the tastemaking indie label Sub Pop, and it was named as one of NPR’s 50 favorite albums of 2012.

∎ The Honky-tonk country group The Stone Cold Roosters, a band rounded out by Colin McCaffrey of Montpelier and members of Dr. Burma, will perform at the Skunk Hill Tavern in Hartland tomorrow. The band will be celebrating the release of Back in the Bog, its third album. Show begins at 9 p.m.

∎ The Indigo Girls, singer-songwriters who have released 14 albums — two of which have gone platinum — will perform at the Lebanon Opera House June 25. Show begins at 7:30 p.m. The Shadowboxers will open ($29.50, $45 or $55).

∎  Longtime British blues band Savoy Brown will come to Tupelo in White River Junction on Saturday, featuring founding member Kim Simmonds, who formed the group in 1965. Show begins at 7 p.m. ($30).

∎ The next night, English post-punk band The Psychedelic Furs, perhaps best known for the song that became the basis for Pretty in Pink, the famous John Hughes movie starring Molly Ringwald, will play at Tupelo at 7 p.m. ($55).


∎ The touring Children’s Theater, based out of Jean’s Playhouse in Lincoln, N.H., will present the first of its seven summer plays in the Upper Valley next week. The troupe’s 28th season kicks off Monday with Jack and the Beanstalk at 10 a.m. at the Claremont Opera House, and continues at 1 p.m. that day at the Plainfield Town Hall. Performances last about 30 minutes, and are recommended for ages 3 and up. The actors will return to those two venues with a new fairy tale every Monday through mid-August. Single tickets cost $6 and are required for ages 1 and up. For more information, go to http://www.papermilltheatre.org/childrens-theatre/.

Master Class, the Tony Award-winning play by Terrence McNally, is coming to the BarnArts Center for the Arts in Barnard, drawing on a pool of actors from both the Upper Valley and New York. The drama stars Lois Resseguie of Barnard as Maria Callas, a role at different points played by Zoe Caldwell, Patti Lapone and Faye Dunaway. The show runs Friday through Sunday this weekend and next. Evening shows are at 7 p.m. and Sunday matinees begin at 2 p.m. ($15 for adults, $10 for students aged 8-18. Reserve online or call 802-332-6020.)


∎ A special Sunday service at the North Universalist Chapel Society in Woodstock will serve as the premiere of Dance in Worship, three dances choreographed by Peggy Brightman. The recent Vermont transplant will lead six Upper Valley dancers in performances of Signs from Earth, Simple Gifts and Wondrous Love, which draw inspiration from Buddhism, the Shakers and images of saints on Gothic cathedrals, respectively. The service begins at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Bar and Club Circuit

∎ Salt hill Pub’s 10th Anniversary Celebration kicks off in Lebanon tomorrow, where danceable rock band Wherehouse performs starting at 9 p.m. The show is 21 and over, and there’s no cover. The next day, from 3 to 6 p.m., Salt Hill favorite Will Michaels will perform from a catalog including soul and blues songs, outdoors if possible. The pub will have a caricature artist on premises, and will also be giving away prizes. At night, Boston act Dueling Pianos will come to Salt hill, with a $10 admission.

∎ Tim Utt and Barbara Blaisdell, who play guitar and piano and go by the name Sensible Shoes, will play the Canoe Club in Hanover on Saturday at 7 p.m.

∎ Alan Greenleaf and The Doctor (Jonathan Kaplan) will play at West Lebanon’s Seven Barrel Brewery tomorrow from 9 a.m. to noon, lyrically drawing from Greenleaf’s experiences as a farmer in northern Vermont.

∎ Gregory Brown, of the rap duo Gypsy Twins, will bring his rootsy solo style to the River Stones Tavern in Quechee tomorrow at 8:30 p.m.

∎ Acoustic duo Second Wind — Terry Ray Gould and Suzi Hastings — will play at Jesse’s in Hanover tomorrow. Entertainment begins at 5 p.m.

Open Mics

∎ Brian Warren and Seth Barbiero host the open mic at Salt hill Pub in Lebanon tonight, starting at 8 p.m.

∎  Brian Warren will also host the open mic at Bentley’s Restaurant in Woodstock, starting at 8:30 p.m. on Monday.

∎ Over at the Hanover Salt hill Pub, Chad Gibbs will host an open mic on Monday, starting at 9 p.m.

∎ Bradford’s Colatina Exit runs an open mic on Tuesdays, starting at 8 p.m.

∎ The Seven Barrel Brewery hosts an open mic night at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

∎ Gregory Brown hosts the Wednesday open mic at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern, starting at 8:30 p.m.

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3242. Send Highlights information to Highlights@vnews.com.


This article has been amended to correct an earlier error. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band will perform at the Lebanon Opera House on June 27 at 7 p.m. The time of the show was listed incorrectly in an earlier version of Entertainment Highlights.