Mardi Gras

Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler!

Happy Mardi Gras! To get you in the mood, play this while you’re reading.

I have to start this post with my favorite Mardi Gras quote by Chris Rose. He encapsulates the atmosphere I have such a hard time trying to explain to my friends who’ve never been to Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras has always been a family event for me. My mom, dad and I have been going to the same spot on St. Charles for years, and I love seeing new families with little kids starting the same tradition. I knew people knew about Bourbon Street, but I didn’t realize that was the only idea they had about Mardi Gras. It’s so much more than that. It’s going to parades with friends and family, but becoming friends with the people standing next to you on the parade route or in line for a bowl of red beans. It’s dancing to the wobble in the middle of the street between parades with a crowd of strangers. It’s costumes, music and kids playing catch and frisbee with old friends and new friends and just for a day friends. Mardi Gras is an atmosphere and an energy of friendliness and revelry.

“They got music always playing. Start in the daytime go all through the night.”

I saw DRUMLine Live tonight for one of my classes, and remembered how much I love marching and brass bands. I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised, but I didn’t know what to expect from the concert. While it had some forced dialogue, the band music was fantastic. It centered on the marching band culture of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which I know about through the battle of the bands. Every year, Grambling and Southern meet in the Superdome and perform huge marching band half time shows. The city is always packed, and it’s a huge tourist event for alums and students. While I’ve never been to the actual event, it’s too big for me to be totally oblivious.

I also grew up going to Mardi Gras parades, and marching bands are an essential part of each one.  Every local has a favorite high school band to see, and it’s always fun to have bands from out-of-town. New Orleans is such a music hub, it’s no wonder that we have good musicians teaching in high schools. The marching band sound crosses over into professional groups, like the Rebirth Brass Band. They’re often featured on HBO’s Treme, which really authenticates itself by using local actors and artists. Maybe I would have loved performance marching band music anyway, but New Orleans definitely fostered the interest and love.

The title come from “Down in New Orleans” by Dr. John from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog soundtrack.