[Dixielandjazz] Re: Fat Tuesday Gigs.

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Dec 16 23:34:05 PST 2003

FAT TUESDAY, the short course.

Well, your mate Mick Potter has it right, but let me expand a bit. (Now
I am beginning to understand why many non-Americans can't figure out the
significance of beads and New Orleans Jazz)

Fat Tuesday is the day before the beginning of Lent, a modified fasting
period for Catholics. So, on that day, since about 1700, Christians
would load up on all the food they could eat. While committing other
sins of the flesh.

Since early Christians were also very repressed, they needed an outlet.
And Fat Tuesday became a wild celebration, like Fasching in Germany and
other such orgiastic events. Thus, anything one did on Fat Tuesday was
OK. You got a sort of a free pass. Of course they borrowed heavily from
Pagan tradition, especially the orgy part. So let the good times roll.
Like Carnivale in Rio, or any such mass hysteria.

The French were especially good at it. And the French settled New
Orleans in the beginning, (after moving the Indians out). So Mardi Gras,
translation - Tuesday Fat became a very big deal in the Crescent City.
Everybody put on disguises, masks, etc. and the place went nuts from the
early 18th century on. (still continues today) Somehow if you wear a
mask, it seems you can do anything with complete strangers. That's not
all bad. And it seems you still get a "no guilt" pass for the day.

Parades started, music started, and somebody figured out that women
would flash bare naked for beads. So early bands, both Black and White
would be on floats tossing beads to all the lovelies who shouted "Hey
mister, throw me some beads."
Since "Jass" was ideal music for carousing and bead throwing and loose
women, the Real New Orleans Musicians had a great time and Jazz became
the "devils music".

To this day, the girls who show, or do the most, get the most beads. And
many vie for that honor. So any New Orleans Jazz Musician worth his salt
continues the tradition.

Barbone Street has made bead throwing an art at Club Dates where the
young girls 21 to 40 are. They understand all about the Fat Tuesday or
Mardi Gras Tradition, beads and showing your stuff. And as an after
thought, they are beginning to understand our music. We may be 1000
miles from New Orleans, but we are not stupid.

It seems, however, as if most Dixieland Bands, (which are really playing
New Orleans Jazz whether they acknowledge it or not) have forgotten from
where this music originated. And why it originated.

Fat Tuesday? A day that should have a New Orleans Jazz Band in every
restaurant in the world. Unfortunately here in the States, the
"Dixieland Artists" have by default, let this day's music go to rock
bands, zydeco bands, and other pretenders because being "artistes" they
wouldn't stoop to such levels. ;-)

So we are neither presenting the "real" music, nor the "real" tradition,
except in a few cases, with Jazz  Musicians like me who never grew up.

And BSJB works a ton of gigs around that time of year while most
everybody else doesn't.

Pity isn't it?

Steve Barbone

Bill Haesler wrote:

> Dear Steve,
> Tell us aliens again.
> Wot is Fat Tuesday?
> Kind regards,
> Bill.

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list