New Orleans is home to many performance venues, from funky neighborhood clubs to the recently renovated grand theater, Mahalia Jackson Theater for Performing Arts in Armstrong Park, www.mahaliajacksontheater.com/. We recently told you about the reopening of the Joy Theater, as well as the slated reopening of the Saenger in downtown New Orleans.
Now think about something that probably no other city boasts: a state-of the-art performance venue built originally in 1835 to serve as the U.S. Mint, which also operated as a Confederacy mint. Today, the Old U.S. Mint is part of the National Park Service. It’s home to a multi-million dollar performance center and jazz museum, and is a flagship location for the New Orleans Jazz NHP. The architect team achieved its goal: Eskew+Dumez+Ripple ‘s design incorporates “the best of both worlds,” marrying the “old bones” of the 173 year old building to progressive technology. There’s a 4000-square foot performance space with seven different stage configurations, and an on-site studio that makes recording live performances possible. You can attend concerts during the day by Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes and friends; Bruce Barnes is probably the only Park Ranger in the United States who is a zydeco musicians. You can participate in discussion conducted by the Park Rangers, and watch films about New Orleans jazz, all in a theater designed by architects to afford the best possible sound and sightlines of any theater in New Orleans. For a current schedule, check out www.nps.gov/jazz. The theater had its grand opening on November 12, 2011, and is the result of a partnership between the National Park Service and the Louisiana State Museum to bring a world class music venue home to the birthplace of jazz. If a recent performance by clarinets Tom Sancton, Tom Fischer and guitarist John Rankin is any indication, we’re lucky to have this magnificent “new” venue for traditional New Orleans jazz. Admission is generally free.