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Arts & Culture

New Orleans Calling: Carnival Time

WWOZ’s nationally-syndicated one-hour program New Orleans All The Way Live has been recently renamed and re-imagined in a great new form, with a new name — New Orleans Calling.

Welcome to New Orleans Calling, WWOZ’s nationally syndicated program. New Orleans Calling airs on WWOZ 90.7 FM in New Orleans every Saturday morning from 7 a.m.-8 a.m., and you can also listen online to recent episodes at

Listen to this week’s episode of New Orleans Calling.

In New Orleans in the weeks before Mardi Gras, there are preparations and celebrations already under way. Costumes are being sewn, king cakes are being baked, parades are going down the street, and there’s all kinds of music. This isn’t just Fat Tuesday — it’s a whole season. And it isn’t just something you watch — it’s Carnival Time, and in New Orleans you become a part of it.

Every week on New Orleans Calling, we provide additional material online to accompany each show, in case you’re interested in finding out more. Sometimes it’s going more in-depth, sometimes it’s something cool we didn’t have time to go into, and sometimes it’s just plain fun.

We hope you enjoy this week’s program, “Carnival Time.”

One of our guests this week is the great documentary filmmaker Royce Osborn.  His “All On A  Mardi Gras Day” is a milestone in documenting black Mardi Gras traditions in New Orleans.  Here’s a clip from that  film, showing the fascinating Skeleton masking tradition.

We played Sugarboy Crawford’s “Jockamo” this week — and you might recognize it as “Iko Iko,” which was a hit years later by the Dixie Cups … It’s based on a Mardi Gras Indian song. Here’s the Dixie Cups’ version.

Guitarist and banjoist Seva Venet spoke to us this week about his experiences playing in Jackson Square and in a Mardi Gras parade with the legendary Anthony “Tuba Fats” Lacen. Tuba Fats and his rotating group of musicians the Chosen Few performed in Jackson Square for years, and many of today’s most important musicians in New Orleans came up under his mentorship.  This performance of “Milneburg Joys” from 2002 features Seve Venet on guitar (he’s seated, wearing a cap), the amazing Dorren Ketchens on vocals and clarinet, Glen David Andrews on trombone, and many more.

Musician Ray Moore spoke about the similarity between New Orleans second line rhythms and the Macaratu rhythm you hear at carnival  in Brazil.  Here’s a sample performed by one of Brazil’s most famous Maracatu groups, Nação Estrela Brilhante:

Maggie Scales, executive Pastry Chef for the Link restaurants in New Orleans (Cochon, Butcher, Peche, Calcasieu, and Herbsaint are some of the most popular restaurants in town) told us how she learned to bake king cakes for Carnival in New Orleans, and especially the Elvis king cake, a specialty at Cochon Butcher. Here’s her recipe for her standard King Cake — it’s amazing! For those who’ve never had one, it combines butter brioche, cinnamon filling, and icing. And it’s decorated in Carnival colors of purple, gold, and green, and a small plastic baby is hidden in the cake (after it’s baked). The person who gets the slice containing the baby has to bring the next king cake. And at Cochon and Butcher, because they specialize in all things related to pork, a tiny plastic pig is used instead of a baby.

The Krewe of Chewbacchus is a favorite DIY parade in New Orleans, paying a New Orleans-style homage to all things related to pop-culture science fiction, including Star Wars, Star Trek, ET, Dr Who, and so much more.  We spoke with Bob Rodrique, who is the head of the sub-krewe SpaceNuts.


(opening music bed: New Orleans Nightcrawlers – “Hold ’em Joe”)
(music bed: Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and the Golden Eagles – “Hold ’em Joe”)
(music bed: Breno Mello – “Batterie De Cappela”)
(music bed: earthdance – “Maculelê Maracatu”)
“Mardi Indian Practice” – recorded live on location by George Ingmire
James ‘Sugarboy’ Crawford and his Cane Cutters – “Jockomo”
(music bed: Galactic – “Carnivale Time w/ Al ‘Carnival Time’ Johnson”)
(music bed: The Hawketts – “Mardi Gras Mambo”)
Al “Carnival Time” Johnson – “Carnival Time”
(music bed: Tuba Fats’ Chosen Few – “Mardi Gras Iko – Food Stamps”)
Tuba Fats’ Chosen Few – “Mardi Gras in New Orleans”

(music bed: Rebirth Brass Band – “New Orleans Music”)
Big Al Carson – “King Cake”
(music bed: Olympia Brass Band – “New Orleans Second Line”)
(music bed: New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars – “A Viennese Freilach”)
New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars – “Ot Azoy”
(music bed: Stanton Moore – “Kooks On Parade”)
(music bed: The Soul Rebels – “2001”)
Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias -“New Suit”
(music bed: Rebirth Brass Band – “Do Whatcha Wanna”)

New Orleans Calling is a production of WWOZ, listener-supported community radio in the Crescent City, with support from and GoNOLA.comNew Orleans Calling is an internationally syndicated weekly radio show produced by George Ingmire highlighting the unique music, food, festivals, and culture of the Crescent City. Ingmire culls from WWOZ’s vast library of live recordings and connects with musicians from across the city to bring you one-of-a-kind music and musician interviews — from flagship music festivals to living room concerts.

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