Blues News #631
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Blues News #631

The 9th of February is Shrove Tuesday (aka Pancake Tuesday) the day before Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. It’s a chance to eat a bit more before Lent takes over.

The French also celebrate this day – they call it Fat Tuesday, better known by the phrase, Mardi Gras. The world’s biggest Mardi Gras celebration is in New Orleans, capital of the former French colony Louisiana.

The super parades of Endymion and Bacchus, scheduled for the Saturday and Sunday before Fat Tuesday, feature a combined total of 67 floats, 60 marching bands and more than 250 units. Their 4,200 parade members toss more than 1.5 million cups, 2.5 million doubloons and millions of beads.

In Geelong, Mardi Gras has gone largely unnoticed, but Alliance Francais did celebrate La Chandeleur at The Heights with pancakes on January 31.

Pistol Pete’s Food and Blues, with its emphasis on the food and music of New Orleans, is giving Mardi Gras a boost! Thursday the 4th kicks off with N’awlins Jazz and that’s exactly the way it should be – a bit of vigour to set the scene. It’s not really a warm up though, as this will be full on.

On Friday the 5th, Jules Bolt and the Redeemers will be taking the stage. Jules is well known for being a fan of southern jazz and blues – Allen Toussaint is a favourite of his. He’s also known for escorting the annual Highway 61 Tour through the Mississippi delta and onto Chicago and New York City!

He will be right into the groove and belting out some excellent material “… jazz, blues, country or folk – I care little for the distinction”.

Saturday the 6th brings Gator Queen – a well known Zydeco blues band. Zydeco is a kind of black American dance music originally from southern Louisiana, typically featuring accordion and guitar. This style of blues has a very strong French influence, and many of its best known items are sung in a distinctive French creole – which is local to the New Orleans area. (Alliance Francais would be horrified!)

For Mardi Gras itself on Tuesday the 9th, SpiderJazz will be taking the stage. They played Pistol Pete’s for Mardi Gras last year and were hugely popular. They have a vast repertoire of styles and songs from the ’20s to the ’60s, and present them with vigour.

If this does not get you out of your seat, you could be in trouble because the nearest Public Access Defibrillator is at Avalon Airport!

A feature of the New Orleans Mardi Gras are the king cakes which include a tiny plastic baby doll inside; the person who finds the doll is declared “king” and must buy the next cake or give the next party.

More than 500,000 king cakes are sold each year in New Orleans between the opening of Carnival Season on January 6 and Fat Tuesday. Better than pancakes, eh?

Many thanks to my great-grandfather, Louis Jeanne, for deserting the French Navy here in Victoria, and for this piece of heritage.

Written by John (Dr John) Lamp
Proudly presented by the Sleepy Hollow Blues Club

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