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Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Chiseling The Blues

In the bitter old blues song "Some Cold Rainy Day," the dumpee declares to the dumper: You will come back someday — when it's cold and rainy and you're old and sick and your stomach "hangs like an empty sack." Bertha "Chippie" Hill made the tune a hit in the 1920s, but now it's been reinvented as a 2010 stunner by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, with vocals by folk-rock singer Cory Chisel.

Chisel's rendition is featured on a new recording with a very long name that explains its purpose, Preservation: An Album to Benefit Preservation Hall and the Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program. Many singers, young and old, perform with the famed New Orleans musicians. It's a gimmick, but the gimmick works.

The instrumentation here is traditional New Orleans jazz, cooked to perfection. In "Some Cold Rainy Day," a bluesy piano creates a gripping slow-drag framework. A tambourine rustles like a vengeful rattlesnake while a deep-throated tuba toots the pain of a busted heart. Now and then, a muted trumpet playfully improvises, as if it were the mocking voice of that runaway lover: "Betcha miss me!"

Set against this classic Crescent City accompaniment, Chisel's sweet, beat-up voice sounds achingly contemporary and more soulful than ever. Living up to his last name, he etches a portrait of a man who's fed up with the woman who walked out on him — while still holding out hope that she'll come crawling back someday.

Listen to yesterday's Song of the Day, and subscribe to the Song of the Day newsletter.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Marc Silver
Marc Silver, who edits NPR's global health blog, has been a reporter and editor for the Baltimore Jewish Times, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic. He is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond and co-author, with his daughter, Maya Silver, of My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice From Real-Life Teens. The NPR story he co-wrote with Rebecca Davis and Viola Kosome -- 'No Sex For Fish' — won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.