NEW ORLEANS — For third-generation musician Ronell Johnson, getting back to the high notes of life is a musical blessing these days.
“Everything is beautiful, man I’m loving it so much,” said Johnson. “Music wasn’t meant to be enjoyed alone.”
A trombonist with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Johnson started music at age six and was playing professionally by 12. It’s the only life and livelihood he’s known.
“I came up literally in music all around and I love jazz, always did,” said Johnson.
That love was put to the test as the pandemic silenced the sounds that echo in the soul of New Orleans. Even with all the low notes over the last almost two years, New Orleans got creative, coming up Yardi Gras and porch parties, helping musicians like Johnson.
“We’re not going to let this pandemic keep us down, not New Orleans,” said Johnson.
Another musical boost happened last year when Preservation Hall had an idea that caught on quickly. HALLiday Grams became a creative gift that sends a musician and a swag bag, right to someone’s doorstep for a personalized concert.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time, to bring some joy when we desperately needed it,” said Johnson, who performed several of them.
It was so successful last year, HALLiday Grams are back again.
“It’s so awesome for the musicians,” said Susan Zatorski who ordered one as a birthday present for her husband Friday.
After a knock on the door and a greeting from Johnson, the HALLiday Gram was underway.
“I’m like I totally have to do this because this is going to be so much fun and he’s going to love it so much because we love Preservation, we’ve been supporting them for years,” said Zatorski.
That support from locals and tourists has Preservation Hall back open seven days a week, something that hasn’t happened since March 2020. There are three shows a day, and they sell out.
“Music is so, so much a part of our culture,” said Johnson.
Johnson says that culture is important for the world to hear.
“That’s a huge weight on our shoulders but It’s important. We’ve got to keep this thing going so I’m really grateful that everything is back, and people are visiting, the tourists and stuff,” said Johnson. “It feels like old times.”
HALLiday grams can be scheduled through December 23rd. For information and Preservation Hall show times, click here.