New York

REVIEW: Preservation Hall Jazz Band - St. Peter and 57th St.

Beginning in 1963 several bands began touring under the Preservation Hall Jazz Band name with the intention of spreading New Orleans jazz around the country. Today PHJB has been winnowed down to one group, which has kept roughly the same 14-member line up since 2009. Many members had relatives in earlier incarnations of the band; for example, sousaphone player Ben Jaffe (also the group's current creative director) is the son of the band's previous director, tuba player Allan Jaffe.

When it came time to plan a 50th anniversary tribute concert for the band, it was understood that the show wouldn’t take place at Preservation Hall; the historic New Orleans venue is notoriously small, rarely charges more than $15 for a show, and – perhaps most detrimental to a Mardi Gras-style celebration – doesn’t serve drinks. Many were surprised when they learned the tribute show wouldn’t even take place in New Orleans but rather 1,300 miles northeast at Carnegie Hall. But holding the event in New York made sense; PHJB were on tour when Hurricane Katrina hit and every member of the band lost their homes. Since they couldn’t get back to the Big Easy, they convened in the Big Apple, formulating a plan to continue touring and enlisting fellow musicians to help raise money to help their damaged city. New York sheltered them when their hometown could not.

So PHJB returned the favor, staging a massive Bourbon Street style party in New York on January 7, 2012, where they were joined by a wonderfully varied and universally skilled group of fellow musicians from other New Orleans legends to relatively unknown indie rockers. The highlights of that marvelous evening of music have been compiled on St. Peter and 57th Street (a nod to both Carnegie and Preservation Hall’s addresses). While it’s always hard to capture the excitement and spontaneity of live New Orleans jazz, the album presents a fantastic overview of what the rotating musicians of the PHJB have been doing so well for half a century.

INTERVIEW: Amber Papini of Hospitality

Earlier this year, the New York band Hospitality released what is shaping up to be one of the years best records. With songs like "Friends", "Betty Wang" and our personal favorite, "The Birthday", the band is on the fast track to indie superstardom, and shows no time of slowing up anytime soon.  Tonight they'll make a stop at DC's The Black Cat opening for label mate Eleanor Friedberger and as great as their songs are on record, we're pretty comfortable with letting you know that you ain't seen nothing yet. 

A few months ago we had the chance to chat with singer/guitarist/songwriter Amber Papini a few months ago and she let us in on some of the history of the band, band crushes how making a their debut record took a mighty, mighty long time. Here's what she had to say.

I read that you guys actually wrote a lot of material for this record a while ago, and didn't quite get into the full-time band business until recently. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Yeah, sure. I wrote the songs over, I guess 2008 to 2009, and then we recorded in 2010. We started out…we recorded this EP in 2008 with [producer] Karl Blau, and wegot things going with that. And then in 2009 Brian got this opportunity to tour with White Rabbits, so he took that and it basically turned into like 2 years of him touring. So we were actually ready to be in the studio and record in 2009 but we just couldn't. It was between Brian's schedule, and then the studio’s that we wanted to work with schedule, and it just never happened so we just had to wait. And then when we did finally get in the studio, we were working with a guy who was sort of really busy. The same time he was recording us he was recording Sleigh Bells I think, so we were paying him discount prices and we were getting like… we had to do this very quickly and we really had to wait for the mixes.