In my mind, there are really only two ways to see them -- either at the real Preservation Hall in New Orleans, where jazz was born -- or at a place like Birch, a restored theater originally built in 1928, when "America's only art form" was young.
Regardless, you're in for a treat whether you see the band in New Orleans -- where I did in 2005, just before Katrina hit -- or in San Diego this week. And while both places have their charms, there's a clear winner this time around. Birch is a beautiful restored theater that's practically at your doorstep, whereas Preservation Hall has no running water, climate control or comfortable seating, and it's 1,600 miles away.
The Preservation Hall Jazz Band's sound is unique to this world, just like the Creole accent or New Orleans itself. And although many of the band's legendary members are dead and gone -- Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton are just two examples -- the group's performances are just as fun and exciting as ever. Its music is also accessible enough to entertain and educate the uninitiated, so bring your extended family.
If you're still not convinced to go to the show, at least check out the Preservation Hall benefit album that just came out. Contributors include Richie Havens, Dr. John, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Tom Waits, Pete Seeger, Steve Earle, Merle Haggard, Andrew Bird, Brandi Carlile and My Morning Jacket's Jim James, among others.
Don't miss this show. Tickets are still available at the Birch North Park Theater's Web site.
T. Loper is a writer for the San Diego music blog Owl and Bear.