March 25, 2010
Tulane University will present a unique multimedia stage production based on Tom Sancton’s widely acclaimed book Song For My Fathers: A New Orleans Story in Black and White. The presentation will be held at Dixon Hall on Monday, April 19 at 8 p.m., and will feature live readings by Sancton, historic video and photography and live musical interludes featuring The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The event is free and open to the public.
Song For My Fathers is an insider’s account of a special moment in New Orleans cultural history: the so-called revival of traditional jazz, the phoenix-like return from the ashes of the old players and their music, spearheaded by the founding of Preservation Hall in 1961. Published in 2006, the book was hailed as a “newly minted classic” by the Times-Picayune and was selected by Tulane for the university’s Fall Reading Project that same year.
Sancton grew up in New Orleans. After studies at Harvard and Oxford, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar, he began a 22-year career as a writer, editor, and foreign correspondent for Time magazine, serving most recently as Paris Bureau Chief. In August 2007, feeling the tug of his roots, Sancton returned to live in New Orleans after a long residence in France in order to take up the Andrew W. Mellon professorship at Tulane, where he currently teaches creative writing.
Preservation Hall is the main venue of this coming-of-age memoir; Sancton’s relationship with the old jazz musicians, who called themselves “the mens,” is the central theme. Most of the original “mens” are long since departed, but the current Preservation Hall players are their successors in carrying forward the New Orleans jazz tradition. The performance at Tulane is not merely a literary reading, but a unique stage performance that shifts between words and music, past and present, memory and experience. For information on Preservation Hall, see http://preservationhall.com
The Tulane performance coincides with the publication by Other Press of a new paperback edition of Song For My Fathers. Updated with additional photos and text, it contains a substantial new epilogue that chronicles the author’s return to live in his hometown after 40 years. For more information on the book, see http://www.otherpress.com/songformyfathers/
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