The Roadhouse: It’s Carnival Time! (it’s early this year!)

photo by Mike Sax

I know, I know. You all think Mardi Gras is not cool and there’s no way you’re going out with beads and all that stupid shit you see on TV (or those really bad ads in the Weekly this week). I know. But let me be the one to tell ya that Mardi Gras is much, much more than girls going wild on Bourbon Street and lifting shirts for beads.

It’s more. It’s a deep, 150-year local tradition that even Katrina couldn’t stop. The parades continue to roll down St Charles Ave, second lines still follow brass bands, and families still celebrate with king cakes and house parties. It’s all part of a Carnival season, which begins on the 12th Night of Christmas (Jan 6th) and culminates on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent (Ash Wednesday). It’s a culturally rich, historic tradition that also features my favorite part about Carnival; un-publicized street parading by Mardi Gras Indians who roam New Orleans’ neighborhoods in full, hand-stitched “suits” of feathers.

In the bayou, southwest of New Orleans, there’s a different, more country-styled Mardi Gras. Masquerading, music, and a community gumbo pot rule the day. And the chase of the chicken is a timeless tradition remembered by Doug Kershaw, our guest in The Roadhouse on 1/16 and interviewed by Jon Kertzer. It’s part of last week’s Mardi Gras show, still available on our Streaming Archive:


The Cajun-style Mardi Gras is captured beautifully by maverick film-maker Les Blank, who made many documentaries about Mardi Gras.

Go further with your Mardi Gras interest with this stuff:

Enjoy the KEXP 2008 Mardi Gras Show! Three hours of Mardi Gras mambos, street parades, carnival songs, Mardi Gras Indians, king cake, brass bands, New Orleans music legends, and chasin’ chickens in the Bayou. It’s my all New Orleans music show accessible here on Fat Tuesday. It’s like a gilded coconut of web-cast radio pleasure!

Laissez les Bonnes Temps Roulet!

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