Mardis Gras Mambo Brings Bourbon Streeet North

Mardis Gras Mambo Brings Bourbon Streeet North

By David DeRocco, Editor, 

Call it Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday or simply, Mardis Gras. No matter which name you prefer, it’s really all about a glorious celebration of music. Now, from the streets of New Orleans to the big stage at Partridge Hall, that spirit of non-stop celebration comes to St. Catharines in the form of MARDIS GRAS MAMBO, a delicious mix of music as flavourful and spicey as a traditional Louisiana gumbo.


First up on the musical menu being served at Mardis Gras Mambo will be the internationally revered New Orleans-based collective, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Formed in 1977, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band are considered pioneers of the modern New Orleans brass band movement. From the release of their first album, My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now, the band has revolutionized the New Orleans brass band style by incorporating funk and bebop into the traditional New Orleans jazz style. From its creation, that sound has become a major influence on a generation of local musicians.


With more than a dozen albums to their credit and guest appearances on releases by artists as diverse as The Neville Brothers and Elvis Costello to Modest Mouse and Dave Matthews, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band are now revered around the globe. They gained their initial following in Louisiana before earning widespread acclaim in Europe. However, it wasn’t until the band’s set at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland, was recorded and released in 1986 that The Dirty Dozen Brass Band attracted major-label attention, signing with Columbia Records and releasing their brilliant album, 1989’s Voodoo. The ensemble continues to win over new fans with spirited performances that showcase the unique musical hybrid they have forged through more than 40 years of live shows.


There is no better accompaniment to the music of The Dirty Dozen Brass Band than a heaping helping of music from Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Chas. Growing up in a Creole-speaking home in St. Martinville, Louisiana, Nathan feasted on the music of Zydeco originators such as Clifton Chenier, a Cajun musician often referred to as The King of Zydeco music. Chenier was a pioneer in the combining of Cajun and Creole music with R&B, jazz and blues, a style which Williams would eagerly embrace.


The music of Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas is a family affair; the Cha Chas feature the accordion wizardry of Nathan, brother Dennis Paul Williams and his jazz-influenced guitar stylings, and eldest brother Sid ‘El Sid O’ Williams. Formed in 1985, the band immediately brought a unique take on this regional South Louisiana music to all corners of the globe.

After years of acclaim, Nathan was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and was recently honoured with the Zydeco Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The Cha Chas have been voted the top Festival Band in the country and can also claim the coveted Big Easy award as Best Zydeco band several years running.


With two such Louisiana legends on the same bill, the MARDIS GRAS MAMBO promises to turn Partridge Hall into a celebration worthy of Bourbon Street! Don’t forget to bring your beads!