Look-Ka Py Py Podcast (ep 59): Big Chief Bo Dollis Jr., Carrying the Torch

Bo Dollis Jr., son of legendary Mardi Gras Indian Big Chief and Wild Magnolias leader Theodore “Bo” Dollis, grew up marching in street parades, sewing Mardi Gras Indian suits, and looking on as his father’s tribe brought its culture around the world. In recent years as the elder Dollis’ health waned, Bo Jr., following in his father’s footsteps, assumed the Big Chief’s mantle, the keeper of the Wild Magnolias’ flame.

Big Chief Bo Dollis Jr., Wild Magnolias, podcast photo

Last month, Bo Dollis Jr. and the Wild Magnolias released New Kind of Funk, the group’s first official release since ’99’s tour de force Life Is a Carnival and Bo Jr.’s first as its Big Chief. The inspiration for New Kind of Funk, which blends elements of contemporary blues, reggae funk and hip-hop into the raw, entrancing rhythms and call-and-response cadences of traditional Mardi Gras Indian music, comes from the Willie Tee track “New Kind of Groove,” a song Dollis Sr. and the Wild Magnolias originally cut on ’77’s They Call Us Wild. On the cover of the new Wild Mags album is a photo of Bo Jr. in the thick of a festival crowd immersed in the music and the moment. His face isn’t visible, yet he’s sporting a jacked with a picture of himself in full Mardi Gras Indian regalia airbrushed on the back of it. Watching the scene unfold from the sky above is Bo Sr., all smiles in Mardi Gras Indian headdress.

Tune in below to hear Bo Dollis Jr. tell what it meant to have his father and fellow Big Chief and original Wild Magnolias tribesman Joseph “Monk” Boudreaux reunite in the studio during the recording of New Kind of Funk, what it feels like to beat the drums and don feathers on Mardi Gras morning, and what it means to carry the torch.