Clint Maedgen is a saxophonist in the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which signed with Seattle’s grunge-identified Sub Pop Records last year. He’s also a chameleonic singer-songwriter, a one-man band who plays museums and barbershops, and a photographer whose works are on display alongside those of Ansel Adams and William Eggleston at New Orleans’ A Gallery for Fine Photography.
So moving from Sony Legacy to Sub Pop Records, what’s that been like?
Well, for me, being on Sub Pop records is magnificent and surreal at the same time. Back in 1989, I rode uptown in the trunk of a friend’s car to Jimmy’s Music Club to see Mudhoney play. I got to see Mudhoney three times, I saw Soundgarden twice. That whole musical movement changed my life.
How did your other bandmates respond? I’m trying to imagine Charlie Gabriel’s face when he first heard about it, but I can’t quite picture it.
You know, the thing about Charlie is, he is just so incredibly sophisticated and world-traveled and experienced that, with just about anything that we come up with, he’ll have some frame of reference for it. “Oh, yeah? We were doing that in the ’40s. That ain’t nothin’ new, boy. One-man show? I had to do that for a while in the early ’60s.” So, I think with us being on Sub Pop now, he’s just like, “Okay, that’s right on time, that’s what we should be doing.”
The label is about to reissue the last two Preservation Hall albums [June 28]. What can we expect after that?
I think the next thing Sub Pop’s going to release will be all new stuff. It’s the accompanying soundtrack to a film we recently made called “A Tuba to Cuba.”
You recently posted a video on Facebook of the band playing with Dr. John at Bonnaroo [named after the Dr. John song “Desitively Bonnaroo”]. What’s your favorite memory of him?
My favorite moments would have to be offstage in a green room somewhere. It’s like, anytime the man opened his mouth, it was a magical moment. He could leave a room better than anybody I’ve ever encountered. He’d be like [imitates Mac’s bayou drawl], “Yeahhh, take care of yo fuckin’ ass.” It’s like, God, I loved him, man. I loved being around such an amazing legend.
And finally, as a photographer, when you look at New Orleans through the lens of a camera, what do you see?
I see one of the most vibrant places on earth. I’ve been here 30-plus years now, and still, when I’m walking through the French Quarter, I’ll see a building that I had never noticed before. It’s like some sort of ghost-ship reality where things are always shifting. And when that fog rolls in off the river, just about anything can happen.