Influence – Part I

There once was a time in the late 1950’s when Jazz had fallen into somewhat of a decline in the city that gave it birth: New Orleans. Yes, people still played Jazz on the street corners, and the people did the traditional Jazz parades funeral marches, but there really wasn’t any live venues for people to hear the Jazz greats performing the great American art-form. In 1961, Larry Borenstein, a marching-band tuba player, came to New Orleans with his wife and found himself enchanted the music he heard. He bought a very small art gallery at 726 St. Peter Street in New Orleans’ French Quarter and it became Preservation Hall which he dedicated to the preservation, perpetuation, and protection of traditional New Orleans Jazz. Preservation hall is very small, not very attractive, doesn’t serve beer, and barely seats 100 people. By the standard American metrics of bigger, better, faster and stronger the Preservation Hall – by definition – was doomed to not only fail but have very little influence. And yet Preservation Hall has plugged along 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, and from 8-11pm it has showcased traditional Jazz every night. It has had massive influence in the Jazz community, and become a place that has truly lived up to its mission of “preserving, perpetuating, and protecting traditional New Orleans Jazz.”

I learned more about Preservation Hall while watching the Foo Fighters (one of my favorite bands of late) documentary series called “Sonic Highways.” It’s a travelogue homage to all the cities, and locations within those cities, that have had a massive influence on American music. While I watched the episode on New Orleans, and particularly about the Preservation Hall, it became obvious to me that size and scale have little to do with actual impact. Meaningful impact, in any endeavor, is not directly related to the size of your building, the scale of your “likes,” your fans, or your “friends.”


About Andy Lewis

Andy is an author, pastor, and musician who lives in Santa Cruz California. Currently he serves as lead pastor at Faith Community Church in Santa Cruz
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