Carnival Funk Convergence
As one of my co-workers said the other day, “Mardi Gras is bearing down on us like a freight train!” How’s that for a festive turn of phrase? Anyway, I’ve been so involved with work and numerous et ceteras that I’ve not been posting much lately. Now, here it is but a week before Fat Tuesday; and I’m playing catch-up, with my turntable still in the shop. Feels like like I’m hopping on one foot with an arm tied behind my back – but, let’s just call it another kind of kinky dance and find a way to get on with the party, shall we?
"Ho Na Nae" (Wild Magnolias-Wilson Turbinton)
The Wild Magnolias, 1973
Although this collaborative Carnival funkification between keyboardist and bandleader Wilson ‘Willie Tee’ Turbinton and the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians originally appeared on the 1975 Barclay album (released only in Europe at the time), They Call Us Wild,
“Ho Na Nae” was recorded several years earlier during the sessions for the Wild Magnolias’ eponymous debut on Barclay (1973). When Polygram released CD re-issues of the albums with bonus cuts in 1993 and 1994 respectively (now out of print themselves, except as a very pricey set from Europe), this song appeared on each. I’m featuring the unedited version, which is just a bit longer, that was part of the lagniappe included on the first CD.
I posted on the Wild Magnolias in 2005 and 2006, if you care to go back to those for a bit more background, while we roll with “Ho Na Nae”. It’s a fine Mardi Gras Indian chant and groove coupled with music written and arranged by Mr. Turbinton and performed by the group he gathered together to record, the New Orleans Project, which included some of the players from his own funk band of the early 1970s, the Gaturs. The participants are listed below*. Remember, this mixing of the Gaturs concept with the Mardi Gras Indian tradition was still a groundbreaking, revelatory musical venture in 1973. And I don’t think it has really been topped over the succeeding three decades. The two groups first jammed together at the Tulane Jazz Festival in 1970; and, from that conjunction, several singles and the two albums were spawned. All of their cross-pollination predated the Wild Tchoupitoulas album with the Meters and Nevilles, which, though outstanding, is forever in the shadow of what came before. History was definitely made several times over by Tee and the Wild Mags.
Funk just doesn’t get more New Orleans than this, as far as I am concerned. If you don’t own any of this music, bite the bullet, pay the big bucks, and get a piece of the action. You simply can’t completely fathom the Home of the Groove without blasting lots of this stuff.
*The Wild Magnolias on “Ho Na Nae”:
Big Chief Theodore Emile ‘Bo’ Dollis - lead vocals, percussion
Joseph Pierre ‘Monk’ Boudreaux (Big Chief of the Golden Eagles) - background vocal, congas
‘Gator June’ Johnson, Jr., ‘Crip” Adams, ‘Gate’ Johnson, ‘Bubba’ Scott, James Smothers - background vocal and percussion
Norwood ‘Gitchie’ Johnson - bass drum
*The New Orleans Project on “Ho Na Nae”:
Willie Tee - keyboards, background vocals
Earl Turbinton, Jr.- alto clarinet, alto and soprano saxophones
Julius Farmer - bass
Snooks Eaglin - guitar
Larry Panna - drums
Alfred ‘Uganda’ Roberts - conga