“Why wouldn’t Preservation Hall do a project with Tom Waits?” mused Ben Jaffe, musical director and son of Preservation Hall founders Allan and Sandra Jaffe, in a 2006 piece on the post-Katrina New Orleans music scene in the NY Times.
U2’s the Edge had just performed “Vertigo” with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at a benefit to replace instruments destroyed by the hurricane, including those of five Preservation Hall members who had lost their homes. The famous French Quarter music club was one of the first to reopen after the tragedy, but they needed (and still do) more star power to stay financially afloat.
Well, Jaffe and company got at least one of their wishes: Tom Waits is in New Orleans right now, recording a benefit track for and with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Also, according to a news bulletin on Waits’ official site, he will be recording a song for an upcoming 2nd volume to Anti’s sea chanty series while in town. The first installment, Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys, included contributions from Nick Cave, Bono, Bryan Ferry w/ Antony, Lou Reed and more, so a planned follow-up is great news in and of itself.
Though I’ll admit I wish Marc Ribot played guitar on every Waits recording, one listen to Preservation Hall’s “St. James Infirmary” and I’d say he’s got a perfect new backing band, complete with tuba.