On Sunday, March 6, when the Krewe of Bacchus rolled on the Uptown route, parade-goers were in for a cosmopolitan treat. In addition to local Indian and brass band cuts, the music emanating from WWOZ's Professor Longhair float featured music characteristic of Caribbean Carnival.
Allan “Alski” Laskey, host of WWOZ's “The Rhythm Room”, was choosing sounds inspired by the West Indian-themed Labor Day Carnival celebration in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in which millions of people watch and/or participate in a procession along Eastern Parkway.
It's a compelling and appropriate musical choice, one that highlights New Orleans' connections to Carnival as practiced in other parts of the US and the Americas. Specifically, Alski was focusing on up-tempo selections from genres of the eastern Caribbean, like Soca and Zouk.
For Bacchus 2011, Alski's musical selections were delivered via a pre-scripted play list. But, he notes, it would be fun to spin live during a parade at some point in the future. Doing so would allow live interaction with parade-goers, especially those lucky enough to linger near his float during the parade's inevitable stops.
In years past, Alski's Mardi Gras routine has focused on downtown walking parades, like Krewe du Vieux and St. Ann's. This 2011 Bacchus parade took him to new territory. In a rare foray above Canal Street, he had the pleasure of experiencing his first Uptown parade from the vantage point of a float.
As for Caribbean music, that's much more familiar turf. Those acquainted with his work on WWOZ know that Alski and Brice Nice have imported the Sound Clash format from the dancehalls of Jamaica to the airwaves of New Orleans.
“The Rhythm Room” airs Fridays from 10pm to Midnight.