Not surprisingly, music abounds during the big Mardi Gras weekend. Here is your guide to the best sounds before, during and especially after this week’s parades.
Guitarist John Mooney specializes in Son House-inspired blues guitar with a second-line stutter. Percussionist Alfred “Uganda” Roberts spent eight years backing pianist Professor Longhair — who helped invent Mardi Gras music — and works with Groovesect and other bands. Mooney and Roberts join forces for two sets at Snug Harbor.
Powerhouse vocalist Erica Falls was a highlight of various Allen Toussaint tributes late last year; her onstage collaborations with Galactic are always electric. She’ll lead her own band at Gasa Gasa, on a bill with the R&B/soul/pop/rock ensemble the SpeakerBox Experiment.
Republic New Orleans hosts its sixth annual “Mardi Gras Bounce” show with reality TV star Big Freedia, local bounce pioneer DJ Jubilee, Walt Wiggady, Lucky Lou and more.
The Revivalists, a multidimensional rock/jam band that took shape in New Orleans and now tours the country, comes home to the House of Blues.
The members of the Morning 40 Federation named their raucous garage rock/R&B band for the practice of starting one’s day with a 40-ounce beer. After a handful of albums and many, many bleery, rowdy gigs, Morning 40 disbanded. But they reunite for the major celebratory holidays including New Year’s Eve and, naturally, Mardi Gras. They headline Tipitina’s on Friday.
Sweet Crude ranks among the city’s smartest, most vibrant young indie rock bands. Led by opera-capable vocalist Alexis Marceaux and multi-instrumentalist Sam Craft, they alternate songs with English and French lyrics, along with the occasional Fleetwood Mac cover and lots of percussion. Hear them at One Eyed Jacks.
The Grammy-winning Rebirth Brass Band headlines the first of two consecutive nights at the Howlin’ Wolf in the Warehouse District. The show starts following the parades; tickets are only $5.
Trombonist “Big” Sam Williams powers the brassy Big Sam’s Funky Nation with his horn, voice and larger-than-life stage presence. The Funky Nation ranges from brass band jams to Nirvana covers. On Friday they’ll hit the Blue Nile on Frenchmen Street.
Republic New Orleans hosts an electronic dance music event starring Caked Up, aka the Las Vegas producer/DJ Oscar Wylde.
On Saturday, Endymion takes over Mid-City with its massive, 50th anniversary parade. The krewe hosts its annual Samedi Gras festival on the Orleans Avenue neutral ground near City Park Avenue. The free festival features the horn-heavy Bucktown Allstars at 3:30 p.m. Admission is free, but don’t plan on parking anywhere near the stage.
Nearby at 4214 Orleans Ave., Scott Colomb and Johnny Giavotella Jr. host their annual Samedi Gras house concert. This year’s roster features the Soul Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas; she’s scheduled to perform on the porch from 3 to 4 p.m. Ron Jones & the Big Easy Players will play New Orleans rhythm & blues from noon to 3. The Antweeks, a Baton Rouge cover band, follow Thomas at 4. The public can watch and listen from the empty lot at the corner of Orleans and North Solomon.
Chickie Wah Wah, 2828 Canal St., will open its doors at 2 p.m. Rockabilly band Johnny J & the Hitmen will be onstage most of the afternoon and evening as Endymion passes. Admission is free.
Later on Saturday, contemporary funk-and-more band Galactic kicks off a busy weekend at Tipitina’s. R&B, funk and spoken-word ensemble Tank & the Bangas opens the show.
The Soul Rebels brass and hip-hop band fires up at Gasa Gasa on Freret Street, starting about 11 p.m.
Spend an evening with Low at One Eyed Jacks.
The Devil Makes Three is an Americana/bluegrass band from California that features guitar, banjo and an upright bass. They’ll host a hootenanny at the House of Blues.
Flow Tribe mixes up funk, rock and, thanks to frontman K.C. O’Rorke, a bit of trumpet in a high-energy, highly danceable mix that has won the band a following on the southeastern college circuit. They host the party at the Blue Nile.
The Rebirth Brass Band returns to the Howlin’ Wolf, this time with Naughty Professor opening.
A few doors down at Republic New Orleans, legendary Cash Money Records producer Mannie Fresh spins hip-hop, party songs and Top 40 during the “Saturday Social.”
For the ninth consecutive year, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews & Orleans Avenue are featured for a Bacchus after-party at Tipitina’s. Shorty normally headlines much larger venues; his bash is sold out.
For something a bit more relaxed, jazz saxophonist Reggie Houston, who moved to the Pacific Northwest following Hurricane Katrina, returns for two sets at Snug Harbor. Fittingly, the show is titled “Return of the Prodigal Sax.”
Keyboardist/singer Ivan Neville leads his deeply funk double-bass band Dumpstaphunk for a $5 post-parade show at the Howlin’ Wolf.
Generations Hall, 310 Andrew Higgins Blvd. in the Warehouse District, hosts the 29th annual Bacchus Bash, an all-day block party as parades roll nearby. The music kicks off at 12:30 p.m. with Paris Avenue, followed by Category 6, the Topcats and, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Flow Tribe. Attendees can also watch the Super Bowl on big screen TVs. General admission is free, but VIP tickets — which include open bar and private bathrooms — are $100.
Republic New Orleans’ eighth annual “LundiFest” again features homegrown hip-hop star Mystikal, he of the gruff, rapid-fire raps and funk-influenced grooves of “Shake Ya Ass” and other hits. The Hot 8 Brass Band and rapper Doon also are on the bill.
Galactic returns to Tipitina’s, with Gravy and deejay Quickie Mart. In years past, Galactic’s Lundi Gras gig has ended right around daybreak on Fat Tuesday.
Meters bassist George Porter Jr. & the Runnin’ Pardners funk up the Howlin’ Wolf for a $5 show starting after the parades.
Tank & the Bangas team up with indie-pop duo Alexis & the Samurai at Gasa Gasa.
The Blue Nile presents the Soul Rebels, the Dirty Bourbon River Show and Gravity A, starting about 11 p.m.
The Ninth Ward musical mad scientist Quintron and partner Miss Pussycat preside over their offbeat Lundi Gras blowout at One Eyed Jacks, with Guitar Lightning Lee and Ernie Vincent.
On Fat Tuesday, the show is in the streets. But DJ Esco and others will spin at Republic New Orleans, starting about 11 p.m.
For some people, Mardi Gras concludes when the police clear Bourbon Street at midnight. But for others, the party is only over when the Rebirth Brass Band finally quits the stage at the Maple Leaf Bar some time early Wednesday morning.
On Ash Wednesday, the city catches its collective breath. But some folks will still want to hear music, especially now that all the visitors are headed home.
If you still have energy to dance, Rock ’n’ Bowl presents Swing-a-Roux, a big band that, as its name implies, swings.
But if you prefer to ease into Lent more sedately, consider pianist Tom McDermott and singer Meschiya Lake at Chickie Wah Wah. From 8 to 10 p.m., they’ll unspool vintage blues and jazz songs in a stripped-down setting. And they probably won’t play “Mardi Gras Mambo.”