It’s a bit strange that the Preservation Hall Jazz Band would go out of town to throw their own birthday party, but they might as well do it in New York City, the “other” strangest and least American of American cities. They don’t bother with New York-isms, though — this night they celebrate themselves, and their home, and that’s more than enough to fill Carnegie Hall. The Band celebrates their heritage, and even their own amorphousness. The specific names don’t matter nearly as much as the history that flows.
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Specific guest artists add spice, though. Some are entirely New Orleans appropriate — when Allen Toussaint says the bad times are leaving the building and the good times are settling into the pews, it’s welcoming, participatory, unlike the lion tamer of a politician/carny barker. I’m sorry the tUnE-yArDs takes the helm for a disquieting turn through “Careless Love,” they emphasize timelessness and lineage. Bluegrass (Del McCoury) and country (Steve Earle) personages might reasonably represent footprints leading back to the main source, a time and a place where American music was almost entirely one awesome clump.
You can’t join in the dancing at Carnegie Hall, of course. But you can anywhere else.