Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Stuart’s to Host Legendary Jazz Group

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Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville will host a New Orleans institution on Tuesday, June 23: The Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Preservation Hall was founded in 1961 to promote traditional New Orleans jazz in all its authenticity. The band continues to tour the world and collaborate with some of music’s biggest names, including Tom Waits, Merle Haggard and My Morning Jacket.

Legendary players like George Lewis, Sweet Emma Barrett and Kid Thomas Valentine, all rooted in jazz’ formative years, were the band’s original stars. That generation is long gone now, yet the Hall itself is still in business and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band continues to tour the world.

How does an institution based on an early 20th century musical culture prosper in the 21st? When asked that question on the occasion of the Hall’s 50th anniversary, Creative Director Ben Jaffe had a ready answer: “This anniversary is about the next 50 years.”

For Jaffe, this is not just a business question. He’s carrying on a family tradition started by his parents, Allan and Sandra Jaffe, who were instrumental in founding Preservation Hall and turning it into an internationally known cultural icon. When Ben took over the operation in 1995, he faced the challenge of keeping it going with a dwindling band of veteran musicians and an aging audience base.

His solution has been to inject the touring band with new blood, bringing in some younger players with fresh musical ideas and to form collaborations with groups and musicians from outside the New Orleans tradition.

The group’s most recent album, That’s It (2013), broke new ground for Ben and the PHJB: It’s the first time in the history of the band that it has recorded an album made up of entirely original material—most of it composed by Jaffe and members of his group. The album was co-produced by Ben Jaffe and Jim James, leader of My Morning Jacket, and encouraged by songwriters Paul Williams, Dan Wilson and Chris Stapleton, who co-wrote three of the titles with the band.

Show time for Tuesday’s show is 8 p.m. A 5:30 p.m. soundcheck will be open to the public free of charge, although tickets will still need to be purchased for the actual show. For ticket information, phone 740-753-1924 or visit