What happens when New Orleans jazz meets bluegrass? The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and singer/guitarist Del McCoury (pictured) and his band are exploring the possibilities of combining the two forms of American roots music on a joint tour this year that includes a just-announced concert at 7:00 p.m. Saturday, October 23 at the Family Arena in St. Charles.
The PHJB should need no introduction to StLJN readers, as the venerable traditional jazz repertory ensemble has made it to St. Louis on a fairly regular basis in recent years, playing everywhere from Powell Symphony Hall to the Argosy Casino in Alton.
McCoury's career in music began back in the 1960s with a year spent playing behind bluegrass legend Bill Monroe. He continued to record and play music part-time while working in construction and logging, and his career finally took off in earnest in the 1980s after his sons Ronnie and Rob McCoury joined his band. They moved to Nashville, began touring incessantly, and in addition to their popularity with bluegrass fans, also have become active on the jam band circuit, playing festivals and sharing the stage with bands like Phish and String Cheese Incident.
The idea for a collaboration between McCoury and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band was hatched in 2008, when McCoury went to New Orleans to record two songs for a CD benefiting the hall’s music outreach program for kids. He and his band performed at Preservation Hall during the 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and McCoury then invited PHJB's Ben Jaffe to play tuba with him at the Grand Ole Opry. For their joint tour, each band will play a set, and then they'll join forces for a finale. You can read more about the McCoury/PHJB collaboration in this article by Keith Spera published last October in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Down below, you can see a short video made to promote the tour, and an excerpt from a McCoury/PHJB performance of the gospel standard "I'll Fly Away" recorded by an audience member during a show at B.B. King's in NYC.
Tickets for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Del McCoury Band at Family Arena are priced from $25.50 to $70.50, and go on sale at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, May 28 via Metrotix and at the Family Arena box office.