WHERE AM I GOING? NEW ORLEANS, DUH!
Pay attention. I was once an English professor—there could be a quiz.
But to be specific, I plan to start My Year of Mardi Gras at a three-day event called Krewe of Rocckus hosted by the alternative rock band Better Than Ezra who is from New Orleans. While the highlight of this event is two nights of concerts with special guests and exclusive access, it also includes private parties, it’s own second line parade, and a riverboat cruise with a celebrity musician playing onboard. The website promises “locals and visitors alike the ultimate insider experience to the nation’s biggest party and a chance to celebrate Mardi Gras with Better Than Ezra as their host.” Sold!
WHEN ARE YOU GOING/WHEN DID YOU GO ‘OFF THE DEEP END?’
For the thousands of future readers who arrive at this page after this blog has become a literary sensation, my adventure commenced February 2013. Mardi Gras Day fell on the 12th that year but I arrived on the 7th for Krewe of Rocckus. If you’re wondering why I chose to start here, well….
“SOME PEOPLE CALL ME THE SPACE EZRALITE”
As stated under WHY, Better Than Ezra is one of my favorite bands. While receiving little radio support since the mid-90s, (but hey, radio sucks) they’ve built a loyal fan base—Ezralites—through catchy yet literate albums and legendary live shows where they bring Their Career of Mardi Gras to a town near you. I discovered the band during the waning years of ‘grunge’ when my oldest brother, Jerry, talked me into buying their first album; I was not (immediately) impressed. At Jazzfest 1999, however, after dragging Jerry around all day to listen to bands he’d never heard, he talked me into skipping Steve Miller (not a favorite anyhow) to go see BTE. From the moment they hit the opening chords of “Good” we were both mesmerized. This stripped-down but crafty trio ripped through concise, catchy & clever songs while sprinkling in unexpected covers, interjecting witty comments between and sometimes during songs, and creating a live loop with a voice mixer after jumping into the crowd to sample the voices of fans They whipped their hometown crowd into a joyous frenzy with masterful ease, and so complete was their control that when a mosh pit broke out and police threatened to rush in, they shamed the would-be moshers into halting—”That’s sooo 1994”—as the crowd cheered along. The party rolled on with barely a hiccup. It was one of the most fun and spontaneous shows I’ve ever seen. I was an instant fan.
ROCCKUS ON, WAYNE!
BTE also understands that for the uninitiated the purple, green, & gold ogre can be a bit intimidating. In fact, lead singer Kevin Griffin says they created the event after, “We found a lot of fans have never been to Mardi Gras or New Orleans so we created a Mardi Gras Krewe of our own for the fans to experience the Carnival season with us as their personal hosts.” While primarily aiming to connect with fans new to the holiday and/or city, he promises the event is a blast for locals and carnival veterans as well.
So though not a krewe in the traditional sense (Krewes are local social organizations that meet throughout the year, plans their own route and parade, and roll during Mardi Gras season), thematically KoR is a perfect ‘where’ to initiate this year of wish fulfillment. To help me justify the sizeable price tag, though, I interviewed Kevin Griffin about Rocckus for Offbeat, a New Orleans music magazine I’ve long enjoyed. This is my first freelance article stemming from my relocation–hopefully the first of many–and you always remember your first, so check it out:
Interview with Kevin Griffin of Better Than Ezra for Offbeat Magazine
ROCCKUS ON, GARTH
Now that I’ve laid this whole crazy scheme out, you can continue on to my last introductory page to learn HOW I plan on pulling this off (and how you can help), or just jump straight to my Blog and start reading about my crazy adventures.
PS: If you’re planning to visit Mardi Gras in the future, below is a resource just for you!
LAGNIAPPE, FUTURE EDITION
Should you ever decide to go off the deep end with me, below is a list of future Mardi Gras dates. And be sure to avoid embarrassment similar to this non-Spanish speaking white boy who when moving from Virginia (where I’d never heard of Cinco de Mayo) to Tallahassee (where all the Mexican restaurants threw a party) had so much fun celebrating his first that next year he looked up the date and proudly declared: “Cinco de Mayo is on May 5th this year!” Doh! Mardi Gras means ‘Fat Tuesday.’ Don’t ask what day of the week it falls on!
Future Mardi Gras Dates: