The South Rises in Williamsburg

August 2nd, 2010

Appalachian Voices/Preservation Hall Jazz Band – Music Hall – July 30, 2010


Appalachian Voices with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Two ends of the roots-music sonic spectrum were on display during Friday’s show at Music Hall of Williamsburg, as New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Kentucky’s Appalachian Voices teamed up to bring a diverse night of Southern sounds to the Brooklyn landscape. Approaching its sixth decade of exploring the traditional jazz of the Crescent City, Preservation Hall opened with a rollicking 35-minute set covering such vintage classics as “Short Dressed Gal” and “Sweet Substitute.”

The Appalachian Voices singers joined the fray with Jim James grinding on a dirty “Blue Yodel No. 9” and Daniel Martin Moore guiding a gentle “Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea.” James closed out the collaboration by swinging a towel over his head and howling through an incendiary “St. James Infirmary,” significantly ratcheting up the intensity in the room. Inspired by the boisterous response, Preservation Hall’s Clint Maedgen immediately led the band through a more tribal and equally intense reprise to close out the set before an obviously excited crowd.

Headliner Appalachian Voices reversed the vibe with a subdued and poignant antidote to the opener’s raucous set. With James thanking the audience for remaining quiet and focusing on the evening’s messages about the beauty of Appalachia and the dangers of mountaintop removal, the quartet combined elements of folk, blues, bluegrass and jazz throughout their nearly two-hour performance. While the My Morning Jacket canon would be unavoidable, including a particularly explosive “Smokin’ from Shootin’,” rock star James often faced upstage and yielded the attention to his less-famous-but-nonetheless-worthy coconspirators, Moore and cellist Ben Sollee, the latter delighting with spiraling and occasionally funky cello solos that were met with loud ovations.

Singing of the Appalachian people, pathos abounded in stirring songs, like “Try,” “My Wealth Comes to Me,” and Lead Belly’s “Sylvie,” in which James thrillingly channeled Roy Orbison. The encore featured a droning, thunderous combination of both bands on “Dear Companion” and a driving cover of “Save the Last Dance for Me,” which sent the enthused assembly buoyantly bounding off into the Brooklyn night. —Brian Ferdman

Photo © Matúš Bence |

(My Morning Jacket plays Terminal 5 five times in October. Tickets remain available for the 10/18 and 10/19 shows.)