NEW ORLEANS — As a member of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Kyle Roussel used to travel the world playing gigs. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the music stopped.
“Musicians are struggling because there’s nowhere to play. There’s no place to interact with your audience,” said Roussel.
For decades, Preservation Hall hosted acoustic jazz concerts over 350 nights a year at its location in the 700 block of St. Peter Street. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, practically all local musicians and performers find themselves in very tight spots.
“What can we impact right now? What can we address right now? To us, that’s the musicians that play here at Preservation Hall,” said Ben Jaffe.
To help the 60 musicians at the hall, and to help keep the hall itself afloat, the band’s creative director Ben Jaffe and a team of musicians will hold the hall’s first-ever live stream benefit concert on Saturday night.
One guest will be Dave Grohl, who featured Preservation Hall in the documentary “Sonic Highways” in 2014. Jaffe said the hall is a living piece of music history.
“I never take that for granted: how special these four walls are, and this building, and this space; and how important it is to the greater music community — not just for the New Orleans community but the much larger musical family that is worldwide,” said Jaffe.
Preservation Hall closed its doors in mid-March, and it’s unclear when it’ll reopen. I asked Jaffe if New Orleans is in danger of losing it.
“Preservation Hall has an energy in this city, and it’s too important for it not to be here,” said Jaffe.
For Roussel, in this time of uncertainty, he’s choosing optimism.
“As long as there will be New Orleans, there will be music, and music is the fabric of this city,” said Roussel.
The ‘Round Midnight Preserves live stream benefit concert will be free to access on YouTube, Facebook and twitch.tv.
Donations will go to benefit the musicians who’ve been economically affected by the pandemic. The streaming concert begins Saturday night at 8’clock, but you can donate at any time. https://www.preshallfoundation.org/