This week it’s been school holiday time here.
So, you hope for blue skies, warm winds and sun kissed picnic afternoons.
From dark and glowering daytime skies fell apocalyptic rain.
Scouring winds shook the trees which at night stood spectrally shrouded in deep mist.
Though we had never heard him before a mournful dog, let’s properly call him a Hound, assaulted our ears with low moans interspersed with window rattling barks.
Nothing for it but to dream of a different clime filled with balmy magnolia scented breezes and the appetising aroma of crawfish boils.
Nothing for it but to dream of a City, The Music City, filed with rambling musicians and revelling crowds all in thrall to the rhythm.
Time to reside in the City of Dreams.
Time to take a Streetcar named Desire.
Time to sing and dance abondonly in the streets and on the corners.
Time to get in the Groove.
Time to join a people who have syncopation, swing, funk, soul and the blues in their very bones.
Time to Meet De Boys on the Battlefront.
Come on, Come on! let’s go, courtesy of the mighty Meters, to The Mardi Gras!
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Red Beans and Rice!
And, in case you’re wondering – They All Asked For You.
They even enquired about You.
They All Asked For You.
Whatever ails you I’m Hear to tell you that’ll heal you!
There are many classic Mardi Gras songs (see my playlist in Notes below) but the one that always does it for me is the one that was the sensation of the 1976 Mardi Gras – They All Asked For You by the Meters.
Well, because it makes me smile until my face aches.
Because it makes me laugh right out loud.
Because it makes me happy in a gloriously goofy way.
Because it makes me dance and want to dance right out the door into the street grabbing passers by as I go!
Because it makes me want to lead a chant of Crawfish Etouffee! Creole Gumbo!
Because I want to hear it on a loop and dance until I fall down with exhaustion.
The Meters are guardians of The Rhythm.
They live inside it.
On Drums and Vocals – (Joseph) Zigaboo Modeliste!Embed from Getty Images
Drummer is to modest a term for Ziggy.
He is an artist in Rhythm.
They All Asked For You works it’s hypnotic way with you through his mastery of the irresistible second line rhythm.
And, if there’s a better name anywhere on this planet than Zigaboo Modeliste let me know.
On Bass and Vocals and production smarts – George Porter Jr.Embed from Getty Images
When George plays the Earth sighs … now that’s a grounded rhythm.
You can hear the Spanish Tinge and the Creole, Native American and African American rhythmic heritage on every note George plays.
More than that you can feel it in the soles of your feet and deep in your guts.
On Guitar and Vocals – Leo Nocentelli.
Now the story goes that it was Leo who brought, ‘They All Asked For You’ to the Band – though he may have sung them a somewhat more bawdy version than the one you hear here!Embed from Getty Images
Leo’s lazy, back bayou licks thread generous joy all through the song.
On Keyboards and Vocals – Art Neville.Embed from Getty Images
Art is of course one of the dynasty of great musicians named Neville.
It’s his rolling, rhapsodic piano that gives the tune its sweep you away to paradise flow.
On Congas, percussion and Vocals – Cyril Neville.Embed from Getty Images
Cyril has much, much Mojo.
When I’ve seen him in concert he throws out a force field of rhythm and bonhomie that grabs you – uplifting every molecule of your being.
We should also credit the Producer of this Mardi Gras Classic – none other than the peerless Alan Toussaint (whose Mother was Naomi Neville).
When a song is as popular as They All Asked For You it is bound to generate a ton of cover versions.
Given the centrality of the marching band tradition to Mardi Gras I’ve chosen a take featuring a gallery of New Orleans Jazzers.
Leading the Band is Big Bill Bissonnette – trombonist and drummer and crusader for classic New Orleans Jazz.
Prominently features on Trumpet – Milton Batiste.
Milton was a light up the room as soon as he walked in ball of energy.
His pedigree included being one of the original Shuffling Hungarians backing up the quintessential New Orleans pianist Professor Longhair.
Are you ready to get grooving in the second line?
Aw do it !
Eh la- bas!
You know what – Praise Be! As I look out the window now the rain has stopped.
The mist has cleared.
The Hound has howled his last howl.
Skies are blue.
The winds are warm.
Where’s that picnic basket!
Make sure to pack the King Cake and the Absinthe Frappe.
It’s Mardi Gras time!
Immortal Jukebox Mardi Gras Playlist :
Professor Longhair – Go To The Mardi Gras & Big Chief
Earl King – Street Parade
Al Johnson – Carnival Time
Sugar Boy Crawford – Jock -A – Mo
The Hawkettes – Mardi Gras Mambo
Bill Sinigal – Second Line
Smokey Johnson – It Ain’t My Fault
The Wild Tchoupitoulas – Meet De Boys on the Battlefront.
The Wild Magnolias – Handa Wanda & New Suit.
i guarantee you’ll have a hell of a Party!
The Meters ‘Funkify Your Life’ Anthology CD will do exactly what it says!