In New Orleans in the weeks before Mardi Gras, there are preparations and celebrations already under way. Costumes are being sewn, king cakes are being baked, parades are going down the street, and there's all kinds of music. This isn't just Fat Tuesday -- it's a whole season. And it isn't just something you watch -- it's Carnival Time, and in New Orleans you become a part of it.
One of our guests this week is the great documentary filmmaker Royce Osborn. His "All On A Mardi Gras Day" is a milestone in documenting Black Mardi Gras traditions in New Orleans. Here's a clip from that film, showing the fascinating Skeleton masking tradition.
We played Sugarboy Crawford's "Jockamo" this week -- and you might recognize it as "Iko Iko," which was a hit years later by the Dixie Cups... It's based on a Mardi Gras Indian song. Here's the Dixie Cups' version.
Guitarist and banjoist Seva Venet spoke to us this week about his experiences playing in Jackson Square and in a Mardi Gras parade with the legendary Anthony "Tuba Fats" Lacen. Tuba Fats and his rotating group of musicians the Chosen Few performed in Jackson Square for years, and many of today's most important musicians in New Orleans came up under his mentorship. This performance of "Milneburg Joys" from 2002 features Seve Venet on guitar (he's seated, wearing a cap), the amazing Dorren Ketchens on vocals and clarinet, Glen David Andrews on trombone, and many more.
We'll be hearing much more from Seva in the future, including an exclusive live set recorded just for New Orleans Calling!
Musician Ray Moore spoke about the similarity between New Orleans second line rhythms and the Macaratu rhythm you hear at carnival in Brazil. Here's a sample performed by one of Brazil's most famous Maracatu groups, Nação Estrela Brilhante:>
Maggie Scales, executive Pastry Chef for the Link restaurants in New Orleans (Cochon, Butcher, Peche, Calcasieu, and Herbsaint are some of the most popular restaurants in town) told us how she learned to bake King Cakes for Carnival in New Orleans, and especially the Elvis King Cake, a specialty at Cochon Butcher. Here's her recipe for her standard King Cake -- it's amazing! For those who've never had one, it combines butter brioche, cinnamon filling, and icing. And it's decorated in Carnival colors of purple, gold, and green, and a small plastic baby is hidden in the cake (after it's baked). The person who gets the slice containing the baby has to bring the next King Cake! And at Cochon and Butcher, because they specialize in all things related to pork, a tiny plastic pig is used instead of a baby.
The Krewe of Chewbacchus is a favorite DIY parade in New Orleans, paying a New Orleans-style homage to all things related to pop-culture science fiction, including Star Wars, Star Trek, ET, Dr Who, and so much more. We spoke with Bob Rodrique, who is the head of the sub-krewe SpaceNuts.
THIS WEEK'S TRACK LISTING:
(opening music bed) New Orleans Nightcrawlers - "Hold 'em Joe"
(music bed) Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and the Golden Eagles - "Hold 'em Joe"
(music bed) Breno Mello - "Batterie De Cappela"
(music bed) earthdance - "Maculelê Maracatu"
"Mardi Indian Practice" - recorded live on location by George Ingmire
James 'Sugarboy' Crawford and his Cane Cutters - "Jockomo"
(music bed) Galactic - "Carnivale Time (w/ Al "Carnival Time" Johnson)"
(music bed) The Hawketts - "Mardi Gras Mambo"
Al "Carnival Time" Johnson - "Carnival Time"
(music bed) Tuba Fats' Chosen Few - "Mardi Gras Iko - Food Stamps"
Tuba Fats' Chosen Few - "Mardi Gras in New Orleans"
(music bed) Rebirth Brass Band - "New Orleans Music"
Big Al Carson - "King Cake"
(music bed) Olympia Brass Band - "New Orleans Second Line"
(music bed) New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars - "A Viennese Freilach"
New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars - "Ot Azoy"
(music bed) Stanton Moore - "Kooks On Parade"
(music bed) The Soul Rebels - "2001"
Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias -"New Suit"
(music bed) Rebirth Brass Band - "Do Whatcha Wanna"
NEW ORLEANS CALLING is a production of WWOZ, listener-supported community radio in the Crescent City.
Your host, writer, editor, interviewer, audio engineer, and co-producer is George Ingmire.
Dave Ankers is the producer.
Melanie Merz is the supervising producer.
Additional production by Jorge Fuentes.
National distribution is managed by Russell Shelton and Carmen Connor Post.
Web support by David Stafford.
Executive Producer is WWOZ’s General Manager David Freedman.
Special thanks to:
Sally Young and Melanie Merz, for their voice talents;
WWOZ’s Maryse Dejean, Scott Borne, Dee Lindsey, Crystal Gross, Lauren Del Rio, Leslie Molson, Beau Royster, and Dwayne Breashears.