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Sounds like Carnival

Local bands stay home for Mardi Gras

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Quintron and Miss Pussycat perform an annual Lundi Gras show at One Eyed Jacks.
  • Quintron and Miss Pussycat perform an annual Lundi Gras show at One Eyed Jacks.

To me, Mardi Gras is a sacred day, so we don't play," says Quintron, of the duo Quintron and Miss Pussycat. "Actually, truth be told, we do play on Mardi Gras, our Lundi Gras show goes into the morning."

  They have performed a Lundi Gras concert as long as One Eyed Jacks has been open, and before that it was held at El Matador, which used to occupy the corner of Esplanade Avenue and Decatur Street.

  "At the Matador, we used to go on real late and play until morning, but now we're on by midnight and play till two," Quintron says. "We're not into keeping people up till the sun rises, because they have to go home and put costumes on for Mardi Gras."

  The final days before Fat Tuesday feature many concerts that have become institutions on the Carnival calendar. Many local bands make a point of being in town for Mardi Gras, and these annual shows are the result.

  "We always stay here for Mardi Gras," Quintron says. "It's the price you pay and the reward you reap. Mardi Gras is a monster; it takes over your life."

  Quintron and Miss Pussycat's show also features a special guest some locals may remember: Stephanie McDee. She's the voice behind the locally popular tune "Call the Police," a zydeco and hip-hop hybrid about a party spun out of control. The song was released in 2002, and Quintron has covered it with The Oblivians. He's also performed with McDee on occasion. The show includes Vice Cooker from the Mobile, Ala., punk scene, and K-Holes.

  Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue has grown in renown considerably since the release of Backatown on Verve Forecast in 2010, but the band is in town for Carnival. It has been busy with high profile Super Bowl-related gigs, but it's headlining its annual Bacchus bash at Tipitina's. The show starts late, long after the parade has left its starting point near the club, and the bill includes local rappers Partners-N-Crime and the Baby Boyz Brass Band.

  Galactic also is building an annual Carnival tradition at Tipitina's. It sandwiches Trombone Shorty's Sunday night gig with shows on Saturday and Monday. On its 2012 release Carnivale Electricos, the jazz/funk/hip-hop group explored Carnival beats from cultures that celebrate and are influenced by the celebration, particularly Brazil, but also the Caribbean. Both shows feature Living Colour vocalist Corey Glover, who toured with the band following the release of the album and has often reunited with the group for concert dates.

  The Galactic shows also feature special guests suited for a night of Carnival madness. The reassembled funk-and-punk Fishbone lineup featuring Angelo Moore (aka Dr. Madd Vibe) performs on Saturday. On Lundi Gras, Galactic is joined by Brooklyn's Red Baraat, which just hit No. 1 on Billboard's world music album chart with Shruggy Ji. Red Baraat's music is based on northern Indian bhangra music (which is actually Punjabi popular music fused with Western sounds), but its instrumentation is very similar to that of a brass band, including trombone, tuba, trumpet and drums. Its fusion of funk, brass and hip-hop makes it suitable for Carnival concerts and parade events. This is its first Carnival visit.

  Red Baraat also joins the Mardi Gras Orchestra at the Hi-Ho Lounge at 4:30 p.m. Fat Tuesday for an afternoon show incorporating all sorts of New Orleans funk and Carnival sounds. This recurring jam includes Mardi Gras Indian vocalists and percussion and musicians from local funk, jazz and brass bands. The lineup features Golden Comanche War Chief Juan Pardo, Yellow Pocahontas vocalist David Montana, former Radiators Reggie Scanlan and Camile Baudoin, cellist Helen Gillet, drummer Kevin O'Day, saxophonist Tim Green and others.

  While not an institutionalized show, it almost seems like it wouldn't be Carnival without a reunion of the Morning 40 Federation and its raucous, raspy, brassy New Orleans rock. The band only gets together for a handful of shows each year, but it is back for a performance at One Eyed Jacks Friday. The Gnarltones open.

  "We always have to play for Mardi Gras," guitarist Ryan Scully says. "We're a party band. None of us party like we used to, but for Mardi Gras, we let loose. We can play the fool again.

  The last time the band performed was October 2012, but Scully says members are writing new songs and thinking about playing together more often.

  "There's good creative energy with the guys again," he says.

  Mardi Gras may be just the time to get back in the regular swing of things.

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