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"Oh Yeah!" Tour Brings New Orleans Legends Together for the First Time Ever

Oct 07, 2014 12:52AM ● Published by Erica Shames

New Orleans legends Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Allen Toussaint come together for the first time ever on the "Oh Yeah!" tour which stops at Bucknell University on Friday, Oct. 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Weis Center for the Performing Arts.

The event is sponsored, in part, by Bob and Dede Gronlund and family.

Based out of the legendary French Quarter venue Preservation Hall, the band has performed around the world and toured with a diverse list of artists, from My Morning Jacket to The Blind Boys of Alabama.

But the band has never before toured America with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted singer, pianist, songwriter, and producer known for penning many New Orleans classics including "Southern Nights" and "Working in a Coal Mine."

"After all these years of playing together in New Orleans and coming to the same festivals here and there around the world, it is amazing that we never hit the road as a package before," said Preservation Hall band leader Ben Jaffe. "It was almost as if we've always just assumed it had already happened, and then one day it was like 'Oh yeah, we need to do this thing' and the Oh Yeah! tour was born."

Preservation Hall was founded in 1961 to promote traditional New Orleans jazz; legendary players like George Lewis, Sweet Emma Barrett and Kid Thomas Valentine were its original stars. That generation is long gone now, yet the hall is still in business and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band continues to tour the world.

So how does an institution based on an early 20th-century musical culture prosper in the 21st century? When asked that question on the occasion of the Hall's 50th anniversary, Jaffe had a ready answer: "This anniversary is about the next 50 years."

Jaffe is carrying on a family tradition started by his parents, Allan and Sandra Jaffe, who were instrumental in founding the Hall and turning it into an internationally known cultural icon. When he 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.

In recent years, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (PHJB) has performed and recorded with a wide array of musicians, including Tom Waits, Merle Haggard, Pete Seeger and the Del McCoury Band. The culmination of this collaborative effort was the sellout 50th anniversary concert that the PHJB hosted at Carnegie Hall in January 2012.

Jon Pareles of The New York Times says, "At Carnegie Hall, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band showed how easily it could hop from era to era. It could work like a rhythm-and-blues horn section or a tightly arranged little big band if need be, but it could also switch back into the polyphonic glories of vintage New Orleans jazz, in which nearly every instrument seems to improvise around the tune at the same time."

The new album That’s It! breaks new ground for Jaffe 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. One of the aims of this album is to stimulate that kind of cross-pollination among today's New Orleans jazzmen.

Allen Toussaint is an American musician, songwriter and record producer, and one of the most influential figures in New Orleans R&B. Toussaint has crossed many paths in his illustrious 40 years plus career in music. He has produced, written for, arranged, had his songs covered by, and performed with music giants The Judds, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Patti LaBelle, Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack, Aaron and Art Neville, Joe Cocker, Glen Campbell, The Band, Little Feat, The Rolling Stones and countless others. His songs/productions have been featured in numerous films, including but not limited to Casino, Moulin Rouge and Maid in Manhattan. He served as Musical Director for the off Broadway play, Staggerlee, which won the prestigious Outer Circle Critics Award.

The San Francisco Examiner says, "Return to the roots of jazz, America's great indigenous art form, and don't miss an opportunity for a performance by the 'best jazz band in the land.'"

Tickets for the performance are $30 for adults, $24 for seniors 62+ and subscribers, $20 for youth 18 and under, $20 for Bucknell employees and retirees (limit 2), $10 for Bucknell students (limit 2), and $10 for non-Bucknell college students (limit 2).

Tickets can be purchased online at www.bucknell.edu/BoxOffice or by calling the Campus Box Office at 570-577-1000.

Tickets are also available in person from several locations including the Weis Center lobby weekdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the CAP Center Box Office, located on the ground floor of the Elaine Langone Center, weekdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information about this performance, contact Lisa Leighton, marketing and outreach director, at 570-577-3727 or by e-mail at lisa.leighton@bucknell.edu.

The next event in the Weis Center's 2014-15 Series is a performance by Americana/Folk trio The Stray Birds on Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 7:30 p.m. at the Campus Theatre in downtown Lewisburg. Tickets for the performance are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 62+ and subscribers, $5 for youth 18 and under, $5 for Bucknell employees and retirees (limit 2), free for Bucknell students (limit 2), and $5 for non-Bucknell college students (limit 2).

For more information about the Weis Center for the Performing Arts, go to www.bucknell.edu/WeisCenter or www.facebook.com/WeisCenter

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