Tag Archives: Krewe du Vieux

New Orleans Music

It’s Carnival Time in New Orleans

If you go to New Orleans, you ought to go see the Mardi Gras. And it’s Carnival Time, and everybody’s havin’ fun! And you have to do the Mardi Gras Mambo. If you live in New Orleans or visit during Carnival, you cannot escape  hearing the basic soundtrack-these three songs are played on the radio and at parades constantly.  “Go to the Mardi Gras,” by Professor Longhair; “Mardi Gras Mambo,” by the Hawkettes; and “Carnival Time,” by Al “Carnival Time” Johnson. Of these, it’s interesting to know that Al Johnson, the pianist and singer who was born in 1939 and still looks closer to 50 than 72, wrote and recorded that incredibly catchy little tune when he was only 20. He walked into the legendary Cosimo Matassa’s studio (the place where Fats Domino’s hits were made) in December 1959, and producer Joe Ruffino recorded the song.  Its tricky first section still makes musicians who try to play it miserable, but it worked well enough to become a Mardi Gras anthem. It’s tricky because in the first section, right before the chord change, Al added an extra measure, tripping up the uninitiated musician.  Al still complains that often they don’t get it right. Doesn’t matter, it’s still eminently ear-worm material!

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New Orleans Attractions

In Rich Confusion

Hey, it’s almost February 2012, and we all know what that means here in New Orleans-Carnival Time! The first joyously anticipated parade rolls next Saturday, February 4, starting at 6:30 PM, through the ever-funky French Quarter and Marigny neighborhoods. Yes, that would be Krewe du Vieux.  Makes sense that the first parade would be in the Marigny- Bernard Xavier de Marigny de Mandeville, a wealthy plantation proprietor of French heritage, raised money in 1833 to fund an official celebration of Mardi Gras, and of course his plantation later became the Marigny. (He was one of the original developers of New Orleans!) But there’ve been carnival celebrations in New Orleans since at least 1743.  The Krewe du Vieux likes to boast that it’s the only organization that parades around the original satirical ideals of Carnival.  No lofty mythological themes, or glittering stars on huge floats a la Endymion. No, it’s just creative people making fun of their own society. Lots of material in New Orleans!

The theme this year of the always-irreverent (and a bit racy) adult-oriented parade is “Crimes against Nature,” and Deon Haywood as the Queen, the Executive Director of Women with a Vision.  As leader of that organization, she fights for the rights of at-risk and impoverished women, marginalized members of society, and their families.  She’s clearly not shy!  With a theme like that, who knows what might turn up on those mule-drawn floats meandering through the Old Quarter. Recent Kings include Dr. John (2010-“Fired Up!”) and Don Marshall (2011-“25 Years Wasted.”).

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