Preservation Hall Jazz Band Releases New Video Today + New Album Out Now + Tour Dates

Preservation Hall Jazz Band has released the video for their song “Keep Your Head Up” today via Billboard. The track, which features Cuban singer Eme Alfonso, appears on their new album A Tuba To Cuba, the soundtrack to the critically acclaimed documentary directed by T.G. Herrington and Danny Clinch, out now via Sub Pop. Watch and share “Keep Your Head Up” here. Stream and order A Tuba to Cuba here.

“Keep Your Head Up” is simple message with a big meaning,” says Ben Jaffe.  “Walk with your head high, walk with pride, and live your life with grace and honor and an appreciation for all humanity.  Don’t let things break you down and don’t allow anyone or anything to diminish your spirit.”

“We met the wonderful Eme Alfonso at a performance at an amazing old factory that’s been converted into a multi-disciplinary art space called Fabrica Del Arte. That same evening we met she came up and improvised lyrics in Spanish on the spot. Eme later told me the words she sang have a deep meaning in Cuba, the translation is something like, “walk with your head out front, don’t be so down, walk with joy.”

To say Preservation Hall Jazz Band is to refer to the purest essence of our traditions and to discover NOLA, through the band and Ben its director, was for me one of the most beautiful experiences of my life,” says singer Eme Alfonso. “Because in New Orleans… Jazz and art flow from the streets of this city and it’s clear that it has a direct connection to Cuba, Havana, and all of those who came before us. Our grandparents are connected through these rhythms, dances, melodies, and customs and this shared history of our ancestors unites us all.

“New Orleans and Cuba are deeply connected,” Alfonso continues. “This collaboration is a conduit, a lesson to show our people, and others in the world that we are all family and that art and music has the power to unites us.”

“We went to Cuba in prayer position,” says Preservation Hall band leader and bass player Ben Jaffe when he speaks of the pilgrimage he and the group took to Cuba in December 2015. “We went to receive and offer at the same time. We had never experienced a moment like this, it felt as though all roads were intersecting at once.” The critically acclaimed 2019 documentary A Tuba to Cuba documented the band’s journey as they explored the links that connect New Orleans and Cuba so indelibly — their shared, tragic history as destinations where enslaved Africans struggled to simply survive, and their current status as places where the cultural inheritance from those ancestors is kept alive in both song and deed — but that was only half the story. This collection of songs, a musical account of a generations-in-the-making reunion of musical families separated by time, politics, and distance, tells the other half.

When asked to describe the collection of songs assembled on Tuba to Cuba, Jaffe sums it up by saying, “It’s like listening to the radio.”  And yes, A Tuba to Cuba actually feels less like an ordinary soundtrack and more like a living document, a recording of a broadcast that’s been waiting to exist, a modern version of the static-y radio signals that were broadcast between America to the Caribbean in the early and mid-20th century, sending the sounds of jazz and mambo and R&B and more back and forth across the vast divides of water and culture and politics. It’s a story, this album, and the tale being told mirrors the band’s experience.

The resulting collection of songs is what Jaffe describes as “a beautiful conversation.” The music of A Tuba to Cuba is an ecstatic expression of that ongoing conversation, a restless and lush trip up and down strange FM wavelengths bridging thousands of miles and hundreds of years, where all involved are talking with each other and over each other in excitement, charged with the thrill of recognition of the evidence of their shared familial roots, an undeniable kinship rooted in bloodlines, rhythm, and melody.

Tour Dates:

Jul. 28 – Newport, RI – Newport Folk Festival

Aug. 02 – Happy Valley, OR – Pickathon

Aug. 03 – Happy Valley, OR – Pickathon

Aug. 05 – Folsom, CA – Harris Center For The Arts

Aug. 06 – Folsom, CA – Harris Center For The Arts

Aug. 08 – San Francisco, CA – SFJAZZ

Aug. 09  – San Francisco, CA – SFJAZZ

Aug. 10 – San Francisco, CA – SFJAZZ (7:00PM)

Aug. 10 – San Francisco, CA – SFJAZZ (9:30PM)

Aug. 11 – San Francisco, CA – SF Jazz Center – Miner Auditorium

Aug. 15 – Philadelphia, PA – Old Pool Farm

Aug. 16 – Philadelphia, PA – Old Pool Farm

Aug. 17 – Philadelphia, PA – Old Pool Farm

Aug. 18 – Philadelphia, PA – Old Pool Farm

Aug. 24 – Arrington, VA – Lockn’ Music Festival

Sep. 20 – Louisville, KY – Bourbon & Beyond Festival

Sep. 21 – Franklin, TN – Pilgrimage Music Festival

Sep. 22 – Franklin, TN – Pilgrimage Music Festival

Oct 22 – Ridgefield, CT – The Ridgefield Playhouse

Oct 23 – Red Bank, NJ – Count Basie Theatre

Oct 24 – New York, NY – Town Hall Theatre

Oct 25 – Boston, MA – Berklee Performance Center

Oct 26 – Portsmouth, NH – The Music Hall

Oct 28 – Montreal, QC – Place des Arts – Theatre

Oct 29 – Toronto, ON – Roy Thomson Hall

Oct 30 – Pittsburgh, PA – Byham Theatre

Nov 01 – Kent, OH – The Kent Stage

Nov 02 – Goshen, IN – Goshen College Music Center

Nov 04 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall

Nov 05 – Saint Paul, MN – Fitzgerald Theatre

Nov 07 – Denver, CO – Paramount Theatre

Nov 09 – Phoenix, AZ – Music Theater at the Musical Instrument Museum

Nov 11 – Livermore, CA – Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center

Nov 13 – Chico, CA – California State University Chico – Laxson Auditorium

Nov 15 – Santa Rosa, CA – Luther Burbank Center for the Arts

Nov 16 – Arcata, CA – John Van Duzer Theatre

Nov 17 – Portland, OR – Revolution Hall

Nov 18 – Seattle, WA – Benaroya Hall – Taper Auditorium

Nov 20 – Santa Cruz, CA – Rio Theatre

Nov 21 – Santa Barbara, CA – UCSB Campbell Hall

Nov 22 – San Diego, CA – Wonderfront Music Festival

Nov 23 – Cerritos, CA – Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts

Nov. 29 – Baltimore, MD – Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

Nov. 30 – Baltimore, MD – Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

Dec. 01 – Baltimore, MD – Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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