This was the best thing I did in New Orleans. I am not really a jazz fan, and only went to Preservation Hall because it was on the list, but it was AH-MAY-ZING! I had so much fun (even though I was starting to feel really lousy ... I brought a serious cold home from New Orleans with me).
Preservation Hall is all about showcasing New Orleans jazz. It is in a ramshackle building just off Bourbon street and is totally no frills - wooden floors, a couple of rows of wooden benches, some cushions thrown on the floor and almost all standing room only. They do three - 45 minute shows a night and they are first come, first served (almost exclusively) and are cash only.
This was on THE LIST so I wasn't about to leave it to first come, first served chance and reserved a "Big Shot Spot" for the 8:15 show. There are only 8 reserved seats per show, and you get to skip the line and sit right by the musicians.
I meandered by about 5:30, on my way to dinner, so I would know for sure where I was headed and take some pictures before it got dark and the line was already starting to form.
It is a totally ramshackle building both inside and out, and I can only believe that this look is carefully cultivated. Otherwise, it probably ought to be condemned, but I love the look of a sorta-sketchy, old time-y, underground jazz club.
You aren't allowed to take pictures while the band is on stage, but let me tell you that this teeny, tiny room was PACKED.
The band this night was led by Barry Stephenson on bass (he claimed it was his first time leading the band).
The trombone player was Glen David Andrews. Who also may have been arrested for attempted murder at one point...nothing says hardened criminal like a sweater vest, though.
And on clarinet - Gregory Agid aka The Eye Candy. There was a lady sitting on the front row of cushions and I don't know if she was drunk or just a little enthusiastic, but she had the band and the audience cracking up. She actually yelled out "eye candy" when Gregory was introduced and kept the joke going for the whole performance.
There were also amazing performers on trumpet, piano, and drums but I didn't catch their names and/or was not able to find them on the web - but the entire band was phenomenal.
Glen David Andrews also sang a song that brought the house down and invited audience participation which is always fun, especially in such an intimate venue.
Anyhow, I would highly, HIGHLY recommend checking out Preservation Hall if you find yourself in New Orleans. It was truly the highlight of my trip.