February 9 2011
New Orleans is known for its food, and we got a taste of that on Monday with Hank Williams' "Jambalaya." Jambalaya, is not just a food, but a mish mash of spicy elements not unlike NOLA itself. New Orleans has always been a mix of cultures and the tradition of Mardi Gras Indians is stark evidence of this. The fact that these "indians" are nearly always African-American always struck me as curious. As it turns out the connection is in the bayous outside of New Orleans...
For a great read on the history of the Mardi Gras Indians check here.
The Bayou was where escaped Africans found shelter with the Natives that lived there. After slavery, the runaways returned and payed tribute to their helpers by dressing up in elaborately feathered and beaded outfits that were as much art and history as they were get-up. All this got me thinking about the bayou tunes from New Orleans and after listening a bit deeper found this history is in the sound.
Tuesday, we had the sound of The Meters, the Funk Originators who put New Orleans at the forefront of the 1970s funk style with cuts like "Fire On The Bayou." Not sure if this is an homage to the Indians, but it may be a very funky reference to the African Indian colonies that resisted slavers and hid in the bayous and swamps.
The Meters "Fire On The Bayou"
Wednesday, we heard The Bayou Renegades with their minor hit "Down On The Bayou." The band never was all that big, and were active in the early 80's. But this song is good, it's gritty and real. The lyrics are all about Mardi Gras Indians...
The Bayou Renegades "Down On The Bayou"