The Sounds of Mardi Gras


 

Mardi Gras will begin this year on February 16, 2021 with the customary tradition of Fat Tuesday where everyone indulges themselves with all the rich foods, meats and desserts they can before fasting for lent.

While the mayor of New Orleans technically did not cancel Mardi Gras this year, it will be vastly different than normal.  Due to COVID, there will be no parades down Bourbon Street this year and most of the bars will be shutdown to prevent creating another hotspot like the one that took its toll on New Orleans last year.

One of the major attractions of Mardi Gras and New Orleans in general is the music that is played though out the city.  

While famous musicians like Louis Armstrong made jazz a popular part of Mardi Gras, it isn't the most common genre heard during the season. Introduced to parades by the Zulu Club in the 1800's, second line music, along with brass music, rhythm and blues, and zydeco, became leading sounds of Carnival.

During the late 1800's, before jazz surfaced as a genre, the music of Mardi Gras gathered influences from the sounds of the Caribbean, Africa, France, and Spain, all while incorporating Native American chanting. Brass horn musicians dominated the lower-class music market, and several brass bands arose during that time. Many brass bands formed their own societies and clubs.  Many of these societies and clubs are called krewes.  

A krewe is any group or organization of revelers that band together to host a Mardi Gras ball, ride on a Mardi Gras parade float and participate in social events throughout the year. In Southwest Louisiana, there are more than 50 krewes, a number that continues to grow each season.

Unfortunately, since there will be no parades of a traditional Mardi Gras, that number will probably not grow this year.

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