Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, AL is May 16-18, 2014 - www.hangoutmusicfest.com

The Abitians

New Mardi Gras Classics

(Abitian)

If we’re honest in New Orleans, we’d admit that we believe the region and the state revolve around us. We see our influence everywhere we look (whether it’s there or not), and we feel for the poor saps who aren’t us. Since I Remember the Night Your Trailer Burned Down in 2005, Bobby Lounge has ignored the city and its piano traditions, documenting instead Northshore culture and playing in a barrelhouse style that’s all about drive, not the endless filigree. The recent Somethin’s Wrong—the ‘g’ dropped before Sarah Palin banished them—continues in this vein with the tall tale “Squirrelsquatch,” the bawdy rewrite of “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” other tales of misbehaving, followed by the pieties that wash away all traces of the wild life: “Jesus on the Mainline” and “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

The Abitians include Lounge, his manager John Preble and Dash Rip Rock’s Bill Davis, and on New Mardi Gras Classics, they take on one of the Southshore’s most beloved traditions. Since nobody else seems to want to write these songs anymore, they’re claiming musical territory that we left ripe for the hijacking. There’s no “Carnival Time” or “Mardi Gras in New Orleans” here, and the band’s not quite the one that backed all the hits in J&M Studio, but the Abitians have a good, spirited time playing profanely with sacred songs. One member sings at the wooly bottom of his range, “I want to be the prettiest girl on Mardi Gras,” while a yakkety sax and a driving beat back another yowling Abitian as he tries to convince women to do housework for him, promising to make them his queen at the Mardi Gras.

The album’s good-natured fun, with just enough strangeness to keep things intriguing, and enough craft to make the songs credible. We’ve got to keep a closer watch on St. Tammany Parish.