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SXSW: Preservation Hall Jazz Band at The Moody Theater

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band had a tough challenge last night, but sound engineers for the PBS performance series "Austin City Limits" may have a tougher road to hoe.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band had a tough challenge last night, but sound engineers for the PBS performance series "Austin City Limits" may have a tougher road to hoe.

A well-lubricated St. Patrick's Day crowd merged with equally jolly SXSW attendees to pack the floor of The Moody Theater for the New Orleans jazz band's showcase, which was also taped for "Austin City Limits." Problem was, it appeared that the bulk of the audience was there to see the popular jam band Widespread Panic, which followed on the night's bill.

Preservation Hall -- which unfortunately wasn't amplified above the din -- didn't really have a chance to win over the crowd, which was more interested in talking and celebrating than in witnessing an immensely talented ensemble. And a forgiving ensemble, too -- if the band members were frustrated by the proceedings, they didn't show it.

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Also joining in for the beginning and end of the set were legendary bluegrass figure Del McCoury and his band, who were buried even lower in the sound mix. It remains to be seen if producers can even out the mix and cut the crowd noise enough to create a show for a future episode of "Austin City Limits."

Still, there were some stirring moments. Special guest Jim James of My Morning Jacket belted out "Louisiana Fairytale" and "St. James Infirmary," delivering a huge dose of energy to the proceedings and temporarily drawing in the crowd. And "One More 'Fore I Die," featuring the McCoury Band (with James helping out on the background vocals), was a treat to witness.

McCoury and the Preservation Jazz Band joined forces for the forthcoming album "American Legacies," which is due April 12. "One More 'Fore I Die" is among the tracks that will appear on that set.

 

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