I had seen this film before at a preview screening and enjoyed it enough to see it again. The film is a documentary about the Preservation Hall in New Orleans. Now, for those that don’t know, Preservation Hall is a historic jazz venue in New Orleans. Many of the great jazz legends have played there, and today it hosts the Preservation Jazz Hall Band. They play every night and it’s a major tourist attraction. The documentary showcases it’s interesting origins and documents when the indie band My Morning Jacket came to perform. Just a little over an hour, the documentary flies as it tells the origins of the hall, as told through amazing archival footage and pictures. Ben Jaffe’s (Preservation Hall music director) father and mother were honeymooning in New Orleans looking for jazz music. They liked what they saw but knew there had to be another outlet. So, they packed up, moved down to New Orleans and opened a small hall. With big names coming through, the hall quickly became a big draw and the rest is history. Interlaced with the history is footage of a recent performance with My Morning Jacket. Whether you like the band, hate the band, or don’t even know the band, you’ll enjoy the reworked versions of the songs.
The documentary is colorful and drenched in New Orleans culture and style. From the opening scene where Ben Jaffe, also the Preservation Jazz Hall sousaphone player, bikes his way to work through the French Quarter, to the ending scenes where they’re having a cookout delving into some delicious gumbo and red beans and rice. The performances are a mix of New Orleans classics and My Morning Jacket favorites that keep you grooving in your seats. It’s a must-see for Jazz Hall or My Morning Jacket fans and a definite rental for everyone else.
There were many screenings during the New Orleans Film Festival (NOFF) that had little additives. Some had short films before them and others had Q&A’s. The screening for Louisiana Fairytale had a solid Q&A after the film with Ben Jaffe, the Musical Director for the Jazz Hall as well as the band’s Sousaphone player, and director Danny Clinch. After watching the film intently with the rest of the audience, and nodding our heads and tapping our feet to the music, the speakers were introduced and were welcomed with warm rounds of applause. This was their first time officially screening the film to a large audience in New Orleans and both were rather nervous. They had shown the film at other festivals with Ben remarking,
“When it comes to questions we can kinda pull things over their heads… but we can’t do that with you guys. (laughter) It’s like a gumbo. You might not know how to make it, but you know all the ingredients and how it should taste.”
At points there was almost too many ingredients as director Danny Clinch revealed that there was so much archival footage and photographs, the original cut was over three hours and spanned the entire Preservation Hall history. Delving deep into topics of New Orleans, it’s politics, race relations, social/economic issues, Katrina, etc, but overall, Clinch felt the film should be based solely in the origins of the Hall and the My Morning Jacket performance. The lead singer of My Morning Jacket, Jim James, came down to work with the Jazz Hall band on a compilation CD to benefit their society a few years before the band came down. James enjoyed it so much, he contacted Ben and wanted to get back down there and have My Morning Jacket perform with the Preservation Jazz Hall Band. Ben was beyond thrilled and immediately got hold of Danny so he could film the experience. They were very happy overall with the way the film came out and are currently working on theatre and home distribution as well as Netflix and iTunes deals.