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Playlist: Merry Mardi Gras

Compiled By: PRX Editors

 Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/73469257@N00/2218174709/">Mannie</a>
Image by: Mannie 
Curated Playlist

Fat Tuesday is Feb. 17, 2015.

Get ready with pieces about making great costumes and plenty of music specials.

Curious about how stuff gets on this list?

Hour+ (Over 1:00:01)

Crescent City Stomp: A Riverwalk Jazz Mardi Gras Celebration

From PVP Media | Part of the Rivewalk Jazz series | 01:04:14

Shimmy and shake to a Mardi Gras concert of New Orleans roots music.

Umbrelladark_small They call New Orleans "the Cradle of Jazz." And as the saying goes, "the hand that rocks the cradle, rocks the nation"---and in this case the world. The sound of traditional New Orleans jazz has been around the world and back since King Oliver first blew his horn, and Jelly Roll tickled the ivories in the cafes of Storyville. New Orleans has been a city of music like no other. Brass marching bands strutting down the street in their signature 'black and whites'. Mardi Gras Indians parading in feathers and beads. And the unmistakable wail of New Orleans-style clarinet swooping in and out of hot trumpet riffs. In honor of Mardi Gras, Riverwalk Jazz and The Jim Cullum Jazz Band present Crescent City Stomp, a concert of New Orleans roots music, in tribute to the music and musicians of New Orleans, past and present. In the heart of the French Quarter, on St. Peter Street in New Orleans, an ancient building with peeling paint and squeaky hinges still houses the institution known as Preservation Hall, a mecca for musicians, tourists and hard-core disciples of traditional jazz, since it first opened its doors in the early 1960s. Back then, the stars of this "anti-showbiz" music scene looked like 19th century photos come to life. There was Sweet Emma Barrett with her red plastic pocketbook by her side and tiny hat scrunched down on her head. And the regal Willie Humphrey in starched white shirt and black pants 'relaxing' on a metal folding chair, with his clarinet in hand. This broadcast offers several favorites often heard at "The Hall" including "My Darling Nellie Gray" and "Just a Closer Walk With Thee." The story of this music goes back more than one hundred years. Jelly Roll Morton was part of the very first generation of jazzmen in New Orleans. Morton was a teen when he began to play ragtime piano in the gilt-and-velvet parlors of Storyville. Riverwalk Jazz piano man Jim Turner performs a fascinating piece Jelly Roll composed, called "The Crave." Spin forward half a century to the 1950s, and "Kid" Thomas Valentine was a popular bandleader playing for Saturday night dances in small towns along the west bank of the Mississippi, across the river from New Orleans. A favorite hotspot was a big, old barn of a place called Speck's Moulin Rouge. There was a bar, a dance floor, rickety tables and folding chairs for dice games, and a bandstand. Nearby, taped to the wall, was a cardboard sign with the "Kid" Valentine motto---"Let joy be unrefined"---a sentiment as tangible in the culture as red beans and rice, and gumbo. The Jim Cullum Jazz Band remembers nights at Speck's Moulin Rouge with "Algiers Strut," composed by "Kid" Thomas. The good times continue to roll as Topsy Chapman and Vernel Bagneris team up on vocals with "Cakewalkin' Babies From Home" by New Orleans composer Clarence Williams. Jim and the band recall trumpeter Bunk Johnson in a soulful rendition of "Lonesome Road," then steam through chorus after chorus of improvised ensembles to the finish line with a famous 'test piece' for New Orleans clarinetists, "High Society."

Hour (49:00-1:00:00)

New Orleans, LA: The Big Easy

From Al Letson | Part of the State of the Re:Union: Season One series | 53:53

The city of New Orleans is as proud of its traditions as it is steeped in them. State of the Re:Union visits the Big Easy and explore how the city is negotiating that tension between the old and the new. Editor's note: Not about Mardi Gras specifically, but a great look into NOLA culture on new level.

Sotru_profile-pic_01_small State of the Re:Union
New Orleans: The Big Easy
Host: Al Letson
Producer: Tina Antolini 

DESCRIPTION: The city of New Orleans is as proud of its traditions as it is steeped in them. But since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the city and its residents have been thrust into new relationships with those very traditions they hold so dear. State of the Re:Union visits the Big Easy and explore how the city is negotiating that tension between the old and the new — from race relations to po boys to combating crime — five years after the storm.
Incue: From PRX and WJCT
Outcue: But first, this news.

NEWS HOLE: 1:00- 6:00
Segment A (12:29)
Incue: From WJCT in Jacksonville, Florida
Outcue: That's ahead on State of the Re:Union
A: SILENCE IS VIOLENCE: New Orleans was a dangerous place before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. Afterwards, crime spiked— but the storm seems to have changed many NOLA resident’s tolerance for the ongoing violence in their city.  When crime forced its way into the lives of some New Orleans residents in late 2006, they didn’t just mourn their losses. They took action. In this segment, we hear the story of how one bookish ethnomusicologist became the leader of an ongoing fight to stop the violence in New Orleans streets, inspiring thousands of people to march to city hall, and launching an effort to teach teenagers art as an alternative to violent expression.

SEGMENT B (18:59)
Incue: You're listening to State of the Re:Union
Outcue: PRX-dot-ORG
A. CULTIVATING A NEW ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT: For a long time before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans had been suffering from brain drain. It’s the old story: talented young people graduated from high school, went away to college and never came back. It was a new story, post-Katrina. The Hurricane brought an influx of young, idealistic people—both home grown and from far flung parts of the country-- who were drawn to the city to help with the rebuilding. And many of them are sticking around, making the transition from work with non-profits into starting their own businesses….

B. A CITY OF CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS: For all the excitement about newcomers to the city, the post-Katrina repopulation has inspired anxiety as well: what will their presence mean for a city that historically is majority African American? Not only are there new white hipsters, but New Orleans has seen a massive influx of Latino immigrants in search of day labor jobs, helping to rebuild the city… and that’s inspired tension over jobs with some other ethnic communities. In this piece, host Al Letson explores the complex racial dynamics of the city’s repopulation, and visits one group that’s trying to seize on this as an opportunity to overcome barriers.
C. TAKING A NEIGHBORHOOD BACK BY STORY: If you wander around New Orleans rough Central City neighborhood, you’ll see signs that say “hear my I-Witness” story, and then a phone number. Pull out your phone, call the number, and you’ll hear a local resident tell the story of that particular spot , a story that maybe no one else in the world knows, from a jazz funeral that the Free Southern Theater held for itself in 1980, to what happened at this house, during Hurricane Katrina. The idea is that retelling these stories helps form the neighborhood’s collective memory, and will bring new people into the fold.

SEGMENT C (18:59)
Incue: You're listening to State of the Re:Union
Outcue: to bring them back together. (music tail)
A. INDIAN MUSIC:  We begin  this segment’s exploration of New Orleans culture with a brief sound portrait from the Mardi Gras Indians’ annual Super Sunday tradition, introducing us to the Indians and their chants…
B. SISSY BOUNCE: Go to a club on a Friday night in New Orleans, and if you hear hip hop, you’ll more likely than not also be hearing Bounce. It’s a super local NOLA style of hip hop, driven by call-and-response repetitive lyrics and a distinctive skittering rhythm that sounds pure New Orleans.  It’s wildly popular in the city, and, thanks to a brand new album from the NOLA-based jam band Galactic, it may soon be making its mark across the country. But outside of its musical innovations, there’s another thing that makes some Bounce distinctive: some of its biggest stars are gay. And out. Very out. So-called “Sissy rappers” are among the hottest Bounce artists, folks like Big Freedia, Sissy Nobby, and Katey Red, a gay, transvestite from the Uptown projects. Open homosexuality and cross-dressing does have a strong history in New Orleans. Drag costume balls have been happening in the city since as early as the 40s. Now, Sissy Rappers pack the clubs.

C. SAVING THE PO BOY: In a city that loves—loves—food,  po boy sandwiches are arguably the culinary icon of the city. The sandwich is as diverse as New Orleans, a culinary crossroads, from the French bread to the fillings ranging from roast beef to fried oysters to southern ham. But Hurricane Katrina introduced a new chapter in the sandwich’s history. Already fighting fast food chains for customers, some mom & pop po boy shops in heavily flooded neighborhoods have had a hard time rebuilding. Because of Katrina closings, traditional bakeries like the father-son run Gendusa Bakery lost a huge portion of their customer base. But the hurricane also inspired the po boy’s champions: a festival and a Po Boy Preservation Society have been established in Katrina’s wake, aimed at educating young New Orleanians about the city’s signature sandwich, to make sure both it—and the families who sell it—survive.

D. DEAR NEW ORLEANS: A “Dear New Orleans” letter from Carol Bebelle, founder of the Ashe Cultural Arts Center.
E. “KATRINA FATIGUE” MONOLOGUE/VOX: Al offers some reflections on the degree to which New Orleans is receding from the thoughts of the rest of the U.S., and how his time in the city has changed his perceptions of it. Intermixed with Al’s monologue are the perspectives of a range of New Orleans residents. 


New Orleans, LA: The Big Easy is available on PRX without charge to all public radio stations, and may be aired an unlimited number of times prior to January 31, 2017. The program may be streamed live on station websites but not archived. Excerpting is permitted for promotional purposes only.

State of the Re:Union is presented by WJCT and distributed by PRX.  Major funding for the State of the Re:Union comes from CPB, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Delores Barr Weaver Fund at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida.

Thanks for your consideration of State of the Re:Union with Al Letson. 


The Blind Boys of Alabama In Concert

From WFUV | 54:57

The show focused primarily on material from the Blind Boys of Alabama album "Down in New Orleans," a tribute to the Crescent City.

Blindboys_small The Blind Boys of Alabama have been making music together since the 1930s, when several of the members met at the Talladega Institute for the Deaf and Blind. They gave a live performance on Jan. 28, 2008, at the Cutting Room club in Manhattan for an audience of WFUV members. (The show was also webcast live on npr.org.) The show focused primarily on material from their new album, "Down in New Orleans," a tribute to the Crescent City, but included songs from other albums as well. Hosted by WFUV's Claudia Marshall. A good pick for Black History Month or Mardi Gras.

B-Side Radio: The Clothes Make the (Wo)Man

From B-Side Radio | Part of the B-Side: Cure for the Weekend Blues series | 53:59

They say the clothes make the man, or woman. On this edition of B-Side we explore what our clothes say about who we are, including a segment on costuming for Mardi Gras.

Clothesthumb_small "The Suit" Jody Avirgan: Is your first real suit a rite of passage, or a sign that you've finally sold out to the man? B-Side crew member Jody Avirgan reflects on his first tailored suit, and how it makes him feel. "Transwoman" Tamara Keith: Transwoman, that's what Megan Davis used to call herself before her recent sexual reassignment surgery. She was born a man, and Megan says clothes were an important part of her transformation. Image "Bra Burners" Claudine Zap: Every revolution has an image that perfectly captures the fight. Washington crossing the Delaware. Lincoln?s Gettysburg address. Women burning bras. Problem is, women never burned their bras. "One Color Every Day for a Year" Jody Avirgan: For some, wearing the same clothing every day is a sign of a thin wardrobe. Performance artist Linda Montano makes her art her life, which is how she ended up wearing the same color of clothing for an entire year - and did that for seven years. Learn more about Linda and her art by visiting her website. "Maternity Clothing" Rob Sachs: Clothing can help mark the passage of time. Well, that's certainly the case when you're pregnant. Rob Sachs noticed some pretty significant changes in his wife - and her wardrobe - as they expect their first baby. "Costuming New Orleans Style" Eve Abrams: Costuming season in New Orleans stretches, more or less, from Halloween through Mardi Gras. Dressing up, and becoming not yourself for a night or a day, is a way of life in New Orleans. Many, many New Orleanians not only have a collection of costumes, they also have costuming philosophies, methods, and theories. Where else in American do adults collectively decide to dress up and play on a regular basis? And what would happen if we lost that tradition?

Half-Hour (24:00-30:00)

The Plan- NOLA

From Hearing Voices | Part of the The Plan series | 29:00

A Radio Mardi Gras. We travel the streets of New Orleans, old and new, before and after Katrina. Mostly we'll hear celebrations of the city, but there'll also be a few complaints -- notably from Mayor Ray Nagin and Kanye West...

0602plannola_small We travel the streets of New Orleans, old and new, before and after Katrina. Mostly we?ll hear celebrations of the city, but there?ll also be a few complaints -- notably from Mayor Ray Nagin and Kanye West... PLAYLIST: ARTIST | AUDIO | ALBUM (*=PRX piece) 1. Louis Armstrong | Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans | The Legendary Satchmo 2. Long Haul Productions / Jolie Holland | I Wanna Die* | 3. Eluard Burt | New Orleans | -- 4. Mahalia Jackson | Recollections of New Orleans Music | I Sing Because I'm Happy 5. Andrei Codrescu / Larry Massett | Poetry Combine* | -- 6. The Legendary K.O. / Kanye West | George Bush Doesnt Care About Black People | FWMJ 7. Louis Armstrong | Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans? | Blues For Yesterday

Cutaways (5:00-8:59)

Costuming for Mardi Gras

From Eve Abrams | 05:30

Costuming is a way of life during the Mardi Gras Season

Moniqueatmuses_small If you live in New Orleans, you have to know a thing or two about costuming. A handful of New Orleanians explain how it's done, what it means, and why it's so darn important.

Mardi Gras Indian Music

From 90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR News Station | 06:44

On Mardi Gras Day, tourists line New Orleans' wide avenues to watch the grand parade floats. The celebration tourists rarely see takes place on the strrets and stoops of the Treme, Black Pearl and the Ninth Ward, some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina.

Default-piece-image-0 On Mardi Gras Day, tourists line New Orleans' wide avenues to watch the grand parade floats. The celebration tourists rarely see takes place on the strrets and stoops of the Treme, Black Pearl and the Ninth Ward, some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. Those are the parade grounds of New Orleans Black or Mardi Gras Indians. The Wild Magnolias, the Fi Yi Yi, altogether about 40 tribes march in elaborate costumes inspired by the noble Native Americans who were not enslaved by whites. , Some say the tradition reflects West African masking and dance rituals. While their numbers have diminished since Katrina, a number of tribes have recorded music through the years. Producer Virginia Prescott dusts off the stacks to hear the music of the Mardi Gras Indians.

Drop-Ins (2:00-4:59)

When Jesters Have Their Day

From WWNO | Part of the Storyville series | 04:39

Adam Karlin talks about the Boat Parade during Lundi Gras in New Orleans, and how he likes it more than the more traditional parts of Carnival.


Storyville is a new collaboration between of the University of New Orleans and WWNO. These are true stories about New Orleans written by the students in the University’s Creative Writing Workshop — our next generation of writers. The stories are as diverse, original and colorful as the city itself.

Adam Karlin came to New Orleans to write the Lonely Planet guide to the city in 2009. He immediately fell deeply in love and convinced his then-girlfriend, now-wife — who he proposed to in City Park — to move to the mouth of the Mississippi with him.

Adam writes for a variety of print and online media and has since penned three editions of Lonely Planet's New Orleans guide. He is also the editor of New Orleans & Me, a website dedicated to travel and culture in the city. He is pursuing an MFA at the University of New Orleans. 

Mardi Gras Song Profiles (Series)

Produced by David Kunian

Explore the history, recordings, and people behind the musical standards of Mardi Gras. The interview subjects include musicians, Mardi Gras Indians, and other participants talking about what these songs mean, how they were recorded, and other details.

Pieces are available separately but would also work as a series.

Most recent piece in this series:

Classic Mardi Gras Songs Profiles - Street Parade

From David Kunian | Part of the Mardi Gras Song Profiles series | 03:11

Goldeneagles_magnolia_goldring_small This brief profile documents the Mardi Gras classic "Street Parade." It features interviews with Earl King, the singer and songwriter, and George Porter Jr., bassist for the Meters who are the backing band for this song, as they talk about how the music was recorded, the inspiration behind it, and what happened to the song.

Coastal Wetlands

From Catalina Island Conservancy | Part of the July 2010 - Isla Earth Radio Series series | 01:30

New Orleans. Home to Dixieland Jazz, Mardi Gras, and some of the best fresh seafood you’ll ever eat. Shrimp etouffee. Oysters on the half shell. Where does all that fabulous seafood come from?

Isla_earth_inlay New Orleans. Home to Dixieland Jazz, Mardi Gras, and some of the best fresh seafood you’ll ever eat. Shrimp etouffee. Oysters on the half shell. Where does all that fabulous seafood come from? Well, here are some hints. It’s home to countless species of plants and animals. It provides millions of pounds of seafood each year. It’s been disappearing for decades, and the loss of this habitat may have helped pave the way for the Katrina catastrophe...