various artists,
Mardi Gras in New Orleans
(Rounder, 2001)

Mardi Gras in New Orleans captures the spirit and variety of this now famous festival. Featuring an impressive array of Louisiana performers and styles, this entry in the Rounder Heritage series practically takes the listener into the streets of New Orleans.

Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias kick off the CD with the lively "Meet De Boys on the Battlefront." The Magnolias also get to strut their stuff in "Carnival Time." They team up with Monk Boudreaux and the ReBirth Brass Band in the driving "Let's Go Get 'Em" and the prison work song "Shoo-Fly."

Zydeco music is represented by Beau Jocque and the Zydeco Hi-Rollers and "Beau's Mardi Gras" -- I'd know that accordion anywhere! Buckwheat Zydeco puts in an appearance with the frenetic "My Feet Can't Fail Me Now." No disc featuring Louisiana musicians would be complete without a dash of Cajun spice, and here it is ably provided by Steve Riley & the Mambou Playboys with "Le Danse de Mardi Gras."

Chuck Carbo tells us "Hey Mardi Gras (Here I Am)" while Dejan's Olympia Brass Band belts out "New Second Line." The New Orleans Nightcrawlers offer a new take on an old song. "Little Liza Jane" gets to grow up in "Funky Liza" one of the best cuts on the album.

The CD isn't all back beat and crashing feet: Zachary Richard's "Mardi Gras Mambo" is silky and sexy, and the country style harmony of Marcia Ball, Irma Thomas and Tracy Nelson's "Sing It" are sweet and smooth. Marcia Ball also puts in a brassy performance on her own with "Big Shot."

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band covers Professor Longhair's "Mardi Gras in New Orleans," an annual favorite, and the ReBirth Brass Band returns in rambunctious style with "Do Whatcha Wanna, Part 3." They cap off the festivities with the rousing "Just a Little While to Stay Here."

With Mardi Gras in New Orleans in your CD player, you don't have to wait until the real Mardi Gras to celebrate -- you can be high-stepping any time you like.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]
Rambles: 21 October 2001



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