Preservation Hall

Buffett performs at Preservation Hall

From “Jimmy Buffett shook up a $2,000 margarita onstage at Preservation Hall Sunday night”

You never used to need a reservation at Preservation Hall,” goes the deep Jimmy Buffett cut “Reservation at Preservation Hall.” These days, you certainly need one for the Hall’s Jazz Fest Midnight Preserves series, a run of late-night concerts that take place each festival night and feature big-name performers from the Fair Grounds –- unannounced until they hit the venerable St. Peter Street stage –- in concert alongside members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Genial, charming and informal as always, he led a “Who Dat” chant with the audience, which apparently included silver-haired New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, in the middle of a set that included well-loved songs like “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” “Pencil Thin Mustache,” “I Will Play For Gumbo” and, of course, “Margaritaville.” The Parrothead network may have had advance intel on the surprise performance; most of the audience knew the words to his songs as well as they knew “Who Dat.”

The previously packed room was emptier by then. Most of the Parrotheads had left behind their leader, perhaps having been hit hard by the unexpected shots of warm tequila Buffett poured for fans sitting on the front-row benches. To benefit the Preservation Hall’s education and archival arm, the Preservation Hall Foundation, Buffett fixed a margarita onstage that was auctioned off for a final price of $2,000.

Neither that bit of theater-for-a-good-cause nor, for that matter, the $100-and-up Midnight Preserves ticket prices (which also benefit the Foundation) likely would have been on the menu at the bohemian Preservation Hall of Buffett’s youth. But even 50 years later, the now internationally renowned institution isn’t as polished as all that. Jimmy Buffett’s mixology performance was cut short when a staffer came to the side of the stage to ask for the shaker back. The Hall only had the one, and the courtyard bar needed it to serve cocktails