Friday, January 30, 2009

Smokin That Peace Pipe, Smokin it Right!

The Wild Magnolias - Golden Crown (from The Wild Magnolias 1974)

Fat Tuesday is on its way and it's time for some carnival music, starting with my favorite Mardi Gras Indian tribe, The Wild Magnolias!

Every year the Big Chiefs in New Orleans strut the streets in heavy homemade costumes competing with other tribes that dress to impress, an event that has taken place since the 19th century. Elaborately sewn Native American beaded dresses, a whole flocks worth of feathers, and thosands of dollars and hours spent preparing the costumes for Mardi Gras. While shit talking gets flung around, Indian Masking used to be a rather violent event, as Mardi Gras was a day to settle scores between the tribes. James "Sugar Boy" Crawford's infamous Jock a Mo (aka Iko Iko) was based on the taunting chants rivals would throw at each other as they paraded through the city. The ruckus has calmed down and inner city black communities continue to meet up in Shakespere Park next to the C.J. Peete Projects and parade the city on Mardi Gras and St Joseph's Day in 150lbs costumes.

The Wild Magnolias tribe has existed since the 1950s and are one of the few tribes that have recorded material. Led by chief Bo Dollis since 1964, the group's music is a mix of streetwise New Orleans soul, Calypso, and Creole influence that have taken the group from the ghetto to Carnige Hall and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. I was happy to find out they have one of those weird 90s looking websites with some insane pictures of their costumes, one of them looking to have spinners on it.

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