Laissez les bons temps rouler! Each year, the good times do indeed roll in New Orleans, Louisiana, when the city throws the biggest Mardi Gras bash in the country. Though carnival season is celebrated around the world, the revelry in New Orleans surely has one of the richest legacies, and a major part of that legacy is, of course, its music. Rounder Records, founded in 1970 and now part of the Concord Music Group, has built a solid foundation of Cajun and carnival favorites in its impressive roots-music catalogue. Twelve songs have been culled from the vaults of both Rounder and sister label Specialty Records for a new 12-track collection ins stores today, Meet Me at Mardi Gras. With New Orleans’ Mardi Gras just a little over a month away (Tuesday, February 21 is the date!), the time is right for this instant party disc.
The twelve tracks date from the 1950s to the present day, blending both the familiar and the lesser-known. The Soul Rebels’ 2011 sing-along “Say Na Hey” opens the album and is the most recent cut on the collection, juxtaposing some scorching electric guitar with the expected brass. Another modern slant on the classic sound is present in the form of the New Orleans’ Nightcrawlers’ “Funky Liza,” their take on the traditional brass band favorite “Li’l Liza Jane.” Chuck Carbo of The Spiders closes out the set with “Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On,” a bit of carnival fun.
Vintage R&B sides take their place alongside these “future classics.” Perennial “Bad Boy” Larry Williams is heard on his smoking 1957 reading of “Jockamo,” before the Dixie Cups reinvigorated the tune as “Iko-Iko.” Also from the Specialty catalogue comes the classic jazz of Joe Liggins’ “Goin’ Back to New Orleans.” One of the fathers of New Orleans piano, Professor Longhair, is represented with two songs. He’s heard on a 1960s take of his own “Go to the Mardi Gras,” while Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias do the honors on the Professor’s “Tipitina” from their 1990 album I’m Back…at Carnival Time. Al Johnson’s original 1960 recording of “Carnival Time” adds more authentic flavor.
Cajun music still thrives today in the French-speaking churches south and west of New Orleans, but holds a special place in Mardi Gras tradition. “Mardi Gras Mambo,” originally recorded by Art Neville’s Hawkettes, is heard here in a rendition by Zachary Richard. Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys contribute “La Danse de Mardi Gras,” a song central to Cajun dance festivities at Mardi Gras time.
Rounder's Scott Billington has compiled the disc, and provides liner notes as well. Meet Me at the Mardi Gras is in stores today from Rounder Records. Hit the jump for an order link and the full track listing!
Various Artists, Meet Me at Mardi Gras (Rounder 11161-9133-2, 2012)
- Say Na Hey – The Soul Rebels
- Goin’ Back to New Orleans – Joe Liggins and the Honeydrippers
- Mardi Gras Mambo – Zachary Richard
- Funky Liza – New Orleans Nightcrawlers
- La Danse de Mardi Gras – Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys
- Jockamo a.k.a. Iko-Iko – Larry Williams
- Carnival Time – Al Johnson
- Big Shot – Marcia Ball
- Go to the Mardi Gras – Professor Longhair
- Do Whatcha Wanna, Part 3 – ReBirth Brass Band
- Tipitina – Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias
- Meet Me With Your Black Drawers In – Chuck Carbo
Track 1 from Unlock Your Mind, Rounder 11161-9117-2, 2011
Track 2 from Joe Liggins and the Honeydrippers: Legends of Specialty, Specialty SPCD-7006-2, 1992
Track 3 from Mardi Gras Mambo, Rounder 11161-6037-2, 1989
Track 4 from Funknicity, Rounder 11161-2154-2, 1997
Track 5 from La Toussaint, Rounder 11161-6068-2, 1995
Track 6 from Bad Boy, Specialty CD SPCD-2162-2, 1992
Track 7 from Carnival Time: The Best of Ric Records, Volume One, Rounder 11161-2075-2, 1988
Track 8 from Big Shot, Rounder 11161-3131-2, 1994
Track 9 from We Got a Party: The Best of Ron Records, Volume One, Rounder 11161-2076-2, 1988
Track 10 from Mardi Gras Party, Rounder 1166-11567-2, 1991
Track 11 from I’m Back…at Carnival Time, Rounder 11161-2094-2, 1990
Track 12 from Drawers Trouble, Rounder 11161-2123-2, 1993