Dating evaporated milk cans
According to Jason Berry’s New Orleans music history, , it was the photographer Jules Cahn, who had been shooting second-line parades and jazz funerals since the ’50s, that invited young Davis to a White Eagles Indian practice at a small Central City lounge.
Davis brought a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and as he later listened to the chants and clattering percussion he’d captured, he found himself drawn in again and again by one element in particular: Dollis’ raspy, powerful, soulful voice.
It’s been the topic of a 2008 PBS documentary, a 2017 New York Times article and photo essay, and certainly plenty of good-natured arguments between Alabamians and Louisianans over the decades.
On the Saturday preceding the Courir de Mardi Gras years ago, I found myself winding through an early-morning street party towards the sound of an accordion ringing out bright and tinny from a tiny nearby bar.
Along with their uncle, piano player George Landry — also known as Wild Tchoupitoulas Mardi Gras Indians founder Big Chief Jolly — the Neville Brothers participated in the recording of a masterful platter of Indian funk with The Wild Tchoupitoulas in 1976.
Zigaboo Modeliste, who also played with Art Neville in the Meters, drummed on the Tchoupitoulas release as well.
Journalists, photographers and filmmakers began chasing the story behind the wild men and women in their elaborately beaded and feathered suits who took to the streets on Carnival Day, banging drums and shouting chants in a hybrid language.for a morning full of tunes, hobble-stepping and beers, broadcast live on local radio station KVPI-FM from nearby Ville Platte.A pinprick of a town with no more than 3,500 residents, Mamou has become a touchstone for all things fiddle-and-accordion, and a destination point for visitors from around the globe.Themes of lost love, family and — of course — celebration are often the heartbeat of traditional ballads, and they have the unique ability to make even the deepest cynic get misty-eyed (or a complete klutz try out the floor at a dance hall).
As master accordion maker and Cajun music expert Marc Savoy writes, “[Cajun music] is a people’s music that expresses…an entire cultural history. It makes no difference if the songs are in a language that the rest of the world can’t understand.And in 1711, the first Mardi Gras parade rolled in Mobile.