February 26, 2006

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 It was withdrawn from distribution soon after being issued because the sessions were non-union.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


Blogger Marco said...

This version is the best that I've heard. Do you know if it's on cd?
Thanks, man.

11:07 AM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Oh, yeah, Marco, sorry. I need to put up a link for this. But for now, you can find it on that CD compilation called ' Mardi Gras In New Orleans' on Mardi Gras Records, which also has those Wild Magnolias tracks I posted,
'Carnival Time', 'Mardi Gras Mambo' and others.

11:26 AM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger Marco said...

Thanks. This version's on the Rhino anthology too. Your postings and listens turned me on to some great vibes. I found your site through Rob Walker who wrote "Letters From New Orleans".
Happy Mardi Gras!

11:41 AM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Yes, that Rhino comp, 'Fess: Anthology', is a great resource on Professor Longhair, too. Thanks, Marco. Best of MG to you, too.

Y'all check Rob Walker's blog, NO Notes, linked on my blogroll.

1:21 PM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger Moose said...

Great track, and great blog. I found your blog through Yahoo's daily email - I expect you'll be getting a lot more hits from it.

2:52 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Thank you, Moose. That Yahoo pick has sure kicked up the traffic around here!

9:30 AM, March 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This track is one of the seminal rock and roll recordings. The beat is sublime----proud, joyful and hypnotic. Boudreaux really shines.

Do you know what's on the flip of the 45?

It's also available on a Heartbeat cd called "We Got A Party".

2:09 PM, October 19, 2007  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Charlie, the flip of this single is
"Everyday, Every Night", about as close as Fess came to a ballad.

9:04 PM, October 19, 2007  

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