Over the past several years, we’ve made several trips to New Orleans. While there, we checked out many bars and restaurants and saw where they make the Mardi Gras floats. We went to the return of the Freddie Awards. On one trip, we even had our own Second Line parade. Despite the many distractions, there’s one place we try to visit every time we’re in town. We head to St. Peter Street to see some classic jazz at Preservation Hall.
Preservation Hall closed for 16 months during the COVID pandemic. You’ll know why if you’ve ever been to a show there – it’s tiny and windowless, and seating/standing is literally shoulder to shoulder. Many of the performers are senior citizens. And playing those brass instruments takes a whole lot of breath.
It finally reopened with some changes on June 10, 2021, sixty years to the day of its original opening in 1961. If you visit today, it will feel much like it did in 2019. The main difference is there’s is no more waiting in line at the door and paying in cash. All tickets must be purchased in advance on the Preservation Hall website.
The description below is from our first visit but not much has changed, which is a good thing.
726 St. Peters St., New Orleans, LA 70116
Here’s a description of the venue and why it was formed, from Preservation Hall’s website:
New Orleans’ Preservation Hall was established in 1961 to honor one of America’s truest art forms – Traditional New Orleans Jazz. Operating as a music venue, a touring band, and a non-profit organization, Preservation Hall continues its mission today as a cornerstone of New Orleans music and culture.
The exciting thing about seeing a show at Preservation Hall is that you don’t necessarily know who you will see in the band. You can check out the list of performers on the website but most days, there will be shows by the “Preservation Hall All Stars”:
Every night, Preservation Hall presents intimate acoustic concerts featuring ensembles made up from a current collective of 50+ local master Traditional New Orleans Jazz practitioners. These master musicians have learned the traditional style from the greats that played before them at Preservation Hall. The Preservation All Stars feature those same master veteran musicians.
With a line-up changing week to week, the Preservation All Stars provide an ever-evolving take on the New Orleans Jazz tradition.
Not to fear, the All Stars include some New Orleans Jazz legends. Standing room admission costs $25, general admission seats are $40, and a front-row seat goes for $50.
You can check out the calendar and purchase tickets at their website. Again, they no longer sell tickets for cash at the door.
I’d been warned about seating at Preservation Hall. There are a series of benches in the front and a standing room at the back. There were also benches against the wall. Even though you buy tickets in advance, there are no seat assignments. So if you want to be towards the front, you have to line up early for your showtime. Remember, the first row costs extra. Since you’re there for the music, there’s no bad seat (or space) in the house, as the hall is the size of a small storefront.
Once the crowd was all in place, the band took the stage. They wasted no time and jumped right into the classic Jambalaya. I have no video or pictures of the band since they have a strict no-camera policy during the show. You should be there to enjoy and experience the music, so they request that you do so. For the most part, the audience followed the instructions since it was too easy to fall into a trance when listening to some of the best jazz music I’ve ever heard.
During one of our visits, the band has a sign on the back wall with the price for song requests.
- Traditional Request $5.00
- Others $10.00
- Saints $20.00
I don’t remember seeing the sign during our most recent visit, which was post-Covid. It’s possibly because they were trying to keep the band away from the guests. I’d imagine it could come back in the future.
The 45-minute set went by in a flash. In such an intimate setting, listening to this music felt like New Orleans reaching out to hug me and welcome me to the city. And in case you didn’t know, New Orleans is an excellent hugger.
Want to comment on this post? Great! Read this first to help ensure it gets approved.
Want to sponsor a post, write something for Your Mileage May Vary, or put ads on our site? Click here for more info.
Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love it if you decided to hang around and sign up to get emailed notifications of when we post.
Whether you’ve read our articles before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!
This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary
Featured Photo by Darren Cowley on Flickr
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Thank you for allowing me to reminisce all the wonderful times I went to Preservation Hall when visiting N.O. (my favorite city). Lucky to have gone multiple times for work over the years and have loved it EVERY TIME!! Your piece reminds me how much I miss N’awlins!! Hopefully visit again some day soon.
I think it would be intersting to show how much the price of admission has gone up at Prervation Jazz Hall has gone up over the years.
VERY fortunate to have gone to several big conventions in New Orleans over the years for work. It has been my favorite city since my visit one! Love going to The Hall when there. The atmosphere grabs you and once the band starts playing, you experience N.O. jazz at it’s finest.