One of the perks of being a jazz writer is that I can often get free tickets to concerts. This great benefit has offered me the opportunity to take my wife to some nice jazz events and meet some interesting people. Aside from taking notes in the dark, our jazz dates are just like any other night out. OK, I must admit that shaking hands with Wynton Marsalis
and Esperanza Spalding
make these dates a little different, but the tickets are one of the few things that make being married to me still worth it after twenty-seven years together. Last year, I was able to score some tickets to an excellent performance by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band
at the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, she was not able to go, so I took my old reliable friend Randy. It was a great evening of music that you can read about here
I was thrilled to learn that they were coming back this year for a repeat performance of their Creole Christmas concert, and was able to get two tickets from the band's creative director and tuba player Ben Jaffe, for my wife and I to go this year.
To my disappointment, Marianne had plans she could not break, which she told me about on the Sunday before the Friday concert. Kindly, and with some disappointment of her own, she encouraged me to ask a friend to go along. Obviously I was not looking for a date, and I figured Randy went last year, so I decided to spread the love and ask another of my guy friends. This is the story of that extra ticket.
That evening I was headed to a local church, where a jazz vespers was being held, so I decided to ask my piano playing friend Jim if he'd like to go along. "Preservation Hall!," he enthused. "I'd love to see them. But I just booked a gig at a restaurant. Thanks so much for asking me. I really appreciate it."
And I think he did really appreciate it from the look on his face. Strike one, and I would have to continue to search for a partner on this adventure into downtown Philadelphia.
Next, I headed off to the small college where I teach. On Monday morning I headed to the library where we have a collection of books, videos, and music of New Orleans that we began collecting after Hurricane Katrina, in 2005. The head librarian, Dan, has been most helpful, so I figured it was time I offered him something to thank him for his hard work. "Oh no, Preservation Hall at the Annenberg Center!," he exclaimed. "I would love to, but I have plans to visit family in upstate New York this weekend, but thanks so much for asking me. Maybe we can do something else sometime."
Strike two, but no worries. I have a lot more friends. On my way to class, I ran into one of our history professors, Mike. Mike's a fun guy and I thought it was time we spent some off campus time together, so he seemed like the perfect candidate for this. "I think I can do this," he said." And I've always wanted to see Preservation Hall. I have to check with my wife. Can I let you know tomorrow?"
"Sure, no problem," I replied.
I would see Mike at about noon on Tuesday, and in an effort to play it safe, I bumped into Robert, a philosophy professor with a young child. Surely he would need a night out, so I offered him the chance to take the ticket if Mike is not able to do so. Another enthusiastic response: " Wow! Preservation Hall! That sounds great. I think I'm off duty this weekend. I'd be happy to go if Mike cannot. Of course, I'll have to check with my wife."
As luck would have it, I ran into Mike, Robert, and Robert's wife at noon in the faculty lounge.
"Mike, what's the word?," I asked.
"Oh, man, I can't," he replied. "We have plans."
A quick look at Robert brought a big smile on his face when he thought he would now possesse the ticket. He turned to his wife, saying" "Eliza, Wade has a ticket to a concert this Friday. I'm available, right?"
"No," she replied, "we have dinner plans with our friends."
"Really? No way to change that?," he asked.
"I don't think so," she answered. "We've had the plans for a while."
I watched as a look of great disappointment came over Robert's face.
"Maybe next time, man," he said.