Carnival Past and Present
With Carnival in full swing and my Mardi Gras countdown in progress over at Home of the Groove
, here’s a list of some related music that should be enjoyable all year. After all, when Ash Wednesday dawns, it’s only 364 more days until Mardi Gras! Yeah, you rite.
Mardi Gras In New Orleans
(Mardi Gras Records)
One of the first Mardi Gras music compilations, originally on LP. And I’d still recommend it, with cuts by Professor Longhair (with Earl King), Earl himself, the Wild Magnolias and other classics of the genre. A good starting sampler.
Mardi Gras Essentials
This CD shares some of the same cuts as above but has others worth having from the Meters, Neville Brothers, Rebirth Brass Band, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and more. If you are new to this music or don’t have much of it, these collections and your intoxicant of choice should get you in the mood to wear wild costumes and grab some…beads.
Live: Mardi Gras in Montreux
, Dirty Dozen Brass Band (Rounder Records)
This is a party record with the band as it was in 1985, back when Kirk Joseph was still pumping some incredible sousaphone for them. As I’ve said on HOTG, brass band music is the irrepressible funk music unique to the streets of New Orleans, suitable for second lining and buck jumping any time of year. This is a great place to start with the Dirty Dozen. All of their CDs are high quality; but I give the edge to them live. That said, try also to locate their newest live recording, We Got Robbed – Live In New Orleans
, either at the Louisiana Music Factory
or their website
Feel Like Funkin' It Up
, Rebirth Brass Band (Rounder)
This CD came out in the 1980’s, when these guys were teenagers and Kermit Ruffins was still with them on trumpet. Thus, it has a youthful exuberance that makes it that much more exciting for a studio recording. As one of the best brass outfits in New Orleans on the streets or in the clubs, the band continues to come on strong. I just saw them live last weekend; and they’ve still got it. Any of the their CDs are good, but this has one of their Mardi Gras classics, “Do Whatcha Wanna (pt 2)”.
, The Wild Tchoupitoulas (Mango)
As featured on Home of the Groove
, January 28, 2005.
The Wild Magnolias
A long running Mardi Gras Indian tribe and performance ensemble which has the distinction of being the first to combine their songs with funk music in the early 1970’s, collaborating with Willie Tee and his band on singles and two LPs, later re-issued on CD. The following are good choices:
Life Is A Carnival
(Metro Blue/Blue Note) – This 1999 release is strong, heavy with the Indian spirit, and long on funk with collaborations with the best musicians New Orleans has to offer and other guests.
1313 Hoodoo Street
(AIM) – An Australian label; but recorded in NOLA. This one doesn’t really have as much Indian vibe, as they cover some New Orleans funk by Dr. John and the Neville Brothers, a Louis Jordan tune, as well as some Indian tunes and a couple of obscure Allen Toussaint Mardi Gras tunes. The playing is pretty good; but frankly, Bo Dollis’ ragged vocals wear a bit after a while.
The Wild Magnolias
(Polygram) – Well, the prices have soared on the CD re-issue of the original 1974 LP, since it is now out of print. You can find it at GEMM
(the LP, too) or check your local used CD sources and, if you are patient, maybe you’ll get a deal. Willie Tee and band make these tracks ooze funk and the production tends toward the trippy at times. A classic.
They Call Us Wild
(Polygram) – Ditto the re-issue of their second LP from 1975; but a bit less overboard on effects. Again, with both LP and CD, you can find it at GEMM
. Good luck.