A Great Mardi Gras

Had a great Mardi Gras!

I’ve done Frenchmen Street, Bourbon Street, Canal  Street, St. Charles Avenue, even Metairie. But I like our house the best. We’re smack-dab in the middle of St. Charles Avenue and Dryades Street, so we get the best of all worlds on Mardi Gras day: Zulu, Rex, the truck parades and Mardi Gras Indians.

Mardi Gras, despite the hype that it’s the day to drink and party til you drop, is more than anything, a family and friends affair. There’s nothing better than sitting and watching the passing parade, whether it be floats, spyboys, mamas and babies, little (and big) kids in costumes, twenty-somethings on the prowl. All washed down with a plate of red beans and rice, a piece of king cake, and a cold beer.

Queen Rita, Jan Ramsey, Bo Dollis, Second and Dryades, Mardi Gras 2011.

We love to go to Second and Dryades, where Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias hang out. There’s a great group on really mellow folks who are admiring the Indians’ regalia and trying to decide who’s the “prettiest.” My bud Ceasar Elloie, whose family owns the bar at Second and Dryades, took this photo of Bo and me in the street, just after he handed me an ice-cold beer. Gotta love it!

Only one incident marred the Mardi Gras merriment. At the Krewe of Eris parade in the Bywater, police started trailing the parade—which has paraded for seven years now. It’s one of those New Orleans parades that starts pretty rag-tag, attracts a few more people every year (it’s just another excuse to costume, parade and party), and the parade wends its way through the neighborhood. This year, apparently the paraders had no permit, they pissed off the police, and a big, big fight ensued, with people being arrested, injuries to the cops, damaged police cars. Too bad. Another situation where the police went overboard and ruined everyone’s good time. That doesn’t happen in my ‘hood (Central City)!

I was very sad to hear that the drummer and lovely person Herman Ernest III passed away, as well as producer, record label owner, teacher, author  musician/arranger/composer John Berthelot. We’ll feature an obit on Herman in an upcoming issue as well as John. I got to know John when he was still teaching at UNO, and in his capacity as record producer. John was the first person who was hired by the Jazz Fest folks to operate the Jazz Fest’s “Record Tent,” until it was taken over by various corporate entities (Blockbuster, Virgin Megastore, Borders). Ironic that it’s now back to being a small retail store run by the festival organizers.

Here’s to you, Herman and John. The New Orleans music world will be a far less rich place without you guys in it.