Lent is a 40 day period of ritual fasting, not including Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word ‘lencten’, which means ‘spring’. The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry. But enough of that!
The important thing is that the day before Ash Wednesday is Shrove Tuesday, celebrated by some serious overindulging before the fasting begins. Shrove Tuesday is variously called Pancake Day, Fat Tuesday, or as my great-grandpa Jean would say in his native French, Mardi Gras. So now we are at our destination, and the bible study is over…
Mardi Gras in New Orleans has been celebrated with a parade since 1837, and a feature of that parade has been the jazz and blues in the parade and afterwards at the various celebrations. One of the features of that parade is the floats prepared by community based “krewes” which spend months preparing the floats in secret and only reveal them at the parade.
The krewes have names such as the “Mistick Krewe of Comus” and the “Twelfth Night Revelers,” and all female krewes have existed since the 1920s, the first being “Krewe of Iris.” Probably the closest to that in Geelong are the community floats in Pako Festa.
Pete Raimondo of Pistol Pete’s Food and Blues, celebrates on Mardi Gras and this year he has Spiderjazz playing in the restaurant on February 13, but there’s more.
This year, for the first time on Sunday February 11, he’s running a Mardi Gras Music Festival outside in Little Malop St. He’s organised four bands – the Jules Boult Trio, Pugsley Buzzard Band, Steve Boyd’s Rum Reverie and Catfish Gumbo, all of whom have played here recently and will be a major draw.
Jules has a reputation for delivering old school blues, with a bit of gospel and jazz to balance it. Pugsley hits the keys like Dr John, with a voice like Tom Waits – now that’s a cool combo. Steve Boyd’s Rum Reverie is described as New Orleans swagger, a large cup of soul, a spoonful of blues, and a dash of jazz noir! Catfish Gumbo features Mark ‘Harpo’ Greenway, and will wind up the day with some solid New Orleans sounds.
If that’s not enough, the brass sections from these bands will form an All Star combination between the second and third bands. This should be sensational and this year the event will be a stage plus an al fresco dining area, and Pete has plans to expand this next year.
“We’ll let it grow organically, get a vibe for what we can do,” he said. “We definitely want to utilise
the space more… Cellar Door’s got an event happening. It’s a good way to build a good foundation.”
He’s not expecting any krewes to come up with floats this year, but there has been talk of one to run at Pako Festa, maybe next year. I’ll definitely be turning up for this event.
Written by John Lamp
Image sourced via Jules Boult socials