The iconic, New Orleans-based Preservation Hall Jazz Band will be returning to San Francisco’s Stern Grove Festival this year, continuing their celebration of their 50th Anniversary. Once a Stern Grove staple, this year will mark the band’s first return to the festival in the past 5 years. Billie and De De Pierce’s Preservation Hall Band were the first Preservation Hall Band to play there in 1969, where it became an annual tradition until 1999. In 2007, Preservation Hall Jazz Band performed again at Stern Grove, led by trumpeter John Brunious (uncle to current Preservation Hall Jazz Band trumpeter Mark Braud).
Stern Grove Festival will be celebrating their 75th Season of Concerts this year as well. In celebration of their anniversary, Preservation Hall Jazz Band have been commissioned to compose and perform a piece of music. The song will reference the festival’s tradition of “the waving of the pink section,” in which audience members wave the SF Chronicle’s Sunday Datebook in the air. The tradition began with the band’s former trombone player, Jim Robinson and his legendary waving of his white handkerchief.
The band’s performance at Stern Grove will also introduce Ronell Johnson, taking over on tuba for Ben Jaffe. Jaffe will be stepping down from his bandstand tuba position to stick around New Orleans in anticipation of his first child, due this summer. Jaffe will continue to be part of the team, continuing his role as Creative Director of Preservation Hall.
Raised by a musical family in New Orleans, Johnson started playing trumpet and piano around the age of 6. Four years later, Johnson increased his musicianship and taught himself how to play the trombone, tuba, organ, saxophone, drums, and more. He began performing professionally at the age of 12. To deepen his musical education, he attended New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) and majored in music at Southern University at New Orleans. Johnson became Jaffe’s protege, studying under him at NOCCA.
The Johnson family are no strangers to Preservation Hall Jazz Band, as his great uncle is Joseph “Kid Twat” Butler who played string bass with the legendary Kid Thomas Valentine and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. He is additionally a member of his family’s brass band Coolbone (comprised of his 3 brothers, 2 uncles, and 4 cousins) and has toured with David Byrne, Ben Harper, Spearhead, Busta Rhymes, Counting Crows, De La Soul and other.
In continuation of their 50th Anniversary Celebration series, the band will be performing at Breckenridge Music Festival on June 28th. Preservation Hall will also be on tour this summer, bringing their legendary performance across the country.
PHJB Tour Dates
6/2: Brookfield, WI @ Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts
6/7: Coral Gables, FL @ Coral Gables Congregational Church
6/9: Winston-Salem, NC @ Thrust Theatre, University of North Carolina School of the Arts
6/10: Salt Lake City, UT @ Red Butte Garden (with The Del McCoury Band)
6/13: New York, NY @ Symphony Space Peter Jay Sharp Theatre
6/15: Portsmouth, NH @ The Music Hall
6/16: Croton-on-Hudson, NY @ The Clearwater Festival
6/17: Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Bowl
6/22: Vancouver, BC @ Centre for the Performing Arts
6/23: Victoria, BC @ TD Victoria International Jazz Fest
6/28: Breckenridge, CO @ Breckenridge Music Festival
6/29: Las Vegas, NV @ The Smith Center for the Performing Arts
6/30: Las Vegas, NV @ The Smith Center for the Performing Arts
7/1: San Francisco, CA @ Sigmund Stern Grove
7/2: Seattle, WA @ The Neptune Theatre
7/4: San Rafael, CA @ Marin County Fair
7/6: Irvine, CA @ Irvine Barclay Theatre
7/7: Livermore, CA @ Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center Bankhead Theater
7/12: Grand Rapids, MI @ Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
7/13: Wichita, KS @ The Orpheum
7/14: Louisville, KY @ Forecastle Music and Arts Festival
7/15: Reno, NV @ Reno is Artown Grand Sierra Theatre at The Grand Sierra Resort
7/24: Fish Creek, WI @ Door Community Auditorium
7/25: Interlochen, MI @ Interlochen Center for the Arts Kresge Auditorium
7/26: Boston, MA @ Boston Globe Summer Arts Weekend in Copley Square
7/27: Boston, MA @ Boston Globe Summer Arts Weekend in Copley Square
7/28: Newport, RI @ Newport Folk Festival 2012
8/2: Wellfleet, MA @ Wellfleet Preservation Hall
8/3: Newport, RI @ Newport Jazz Festival
8/8: Fryeburg, ME @ Fryeburg Academy Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center
8/9: Waterford, CT @ B.O.M.B. FEST Harkness Memorial State Park