Get Your Ticket In Your Hand
This is my last musical offering for Mardi Gras 2006. Hope you’ve enjoyed the series, most of which will stay up for a few days after Fat Tuesday. As I mentioned, the party has pretty much been off for me and mine this year; but we can always hope that there’s a next time. I’ll be back later in the week to continue to follow the groove wherever it leads. . . .Until then, hope y’all ball the wall.
Note: You can find the following track, plus many of the others I posted in this series on the Mardi Gras Records CD compilation, Mardi Gras In New Orleans, that I've mentioned before. It is a great Carnival music starter kit.
"Go To the Mardi Gras" (R. Byrd - T. Terry)
Professor Longhair, Ron 329, 1959/60
Try to make it next year. . .
Although “Go To The Mardi Gras” is Professor Longhair’s most well known and frequently heard version of the song, due to its annual heavy rotation at Carnival time, he wrote the song in the late 1940’s and originally recorded it during his earliest sessions for the Star Talent label in 1949. That side, titled “Mardi Gras In New Orleans”, with “Professor Longhair’s Boogie” comprised his debut 78 rpm (#808), a wickedly rare record. It was withdrawn from distribution soon after being issued because the sessions were non-union. But 1949 became not only his first but biggest recording year, anyway. During August and September, Fess and band also put down nine sides plus alternate takes for Mercury as Roy Byrd and His Blues Jumpers. Then, in November, Atlantic came to town and recorded ten sides on him, including a re-make of “Mardi Gras In New Orleans”, which was released in 1950 in the name of Roy ’Baldhead’ Byrd
One of his Mercury sides, “She Ain’t Got No Hair”, made it into the top ten on the National R&B charts in 1950, and several of his subsequent singles, including “Mardi Gras In New Orleans” and “Tipitina” for Atlantic, did well in the local and regional markets. After being sidelined with a stroke, Fess came back in 1957 to record some fine tracks for Ebb Records, which released three singles. Of those, only “No Buts, No Maybes” was popular locally. His next stop on the record company merry-go-round was the newly-formed, local label, Ron, where, in 1959, he laid down our feature, “Go To the Mardi Gras”, a re-make of “Mardi Gras In New Orleans” (these days the song is known by either title) that improved on the earlier versions.
I think credit for the improvement goes to the better recording quality, and definitely to drummer John Boudreaux, who manages to channel the rhythm of Professor Longhair’s unique keyboard style into a propulsive second line march/shuffle. Earlier versions took it slower with the drummers not locking in with Fess’ playing, although the Atlantic track had claves that reinforced the “blues-rumba” feel of his style. Also contributing to this track are Richard Payne on bass, Morris Bechamin on tenor sax, and Eddie Hines on trombone. Mac Rebennack is also credited on guitar; but I do not hear him here. And, I think Eddie Bo may have had a hand in production and/or arranging. Together with Fess’ off to the races intro, funky Latin-tinged playing, hip whistling, and unmistakable vocal, the elements converge to make this take an all-time keeper.
This is truly motivational music with lyrics that simply recommend partaking of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, even pointing out a good place stand to catch the Zulu parade and see the king and queen, a still potent inducement to travel to and party in the home of Professor Longhair.
Take his funky advice