Fattest Tuesday Ever!
by Geoff Kelly
How sweet is Mardi Gras in New Orleans this year? One week before the Crescent City’s annual bacchanalia, right in the heart of parade season, its beloved Saints brought home the Vince Lombardi trophy. (And on their very first try. Showoffs.) This year’s Fat Tuesday celebrations promise to be a Big Easy epic, another step on the long road to recovery from the ravage of Hurricane Katrina.
We might be tempted, here in the country’s northern reaches, to allow jealousy into our hearts. (A Super Bowl win for New Orleans? Before Buffalo gets one?) After all, this old Queen City of the Lakes has suffered too, and not just on the playing fields. Our city has been ravaged by manmade disasters, economic and political. We’re a poor city, too. Where’s our disaster relief? When is our moment in the sun?
But we must count our blessings, which are many. First of all, blizzards beat hurricanes, hands down. As for the cold, well, we’re a hardy strain up here in New York State, and we make our own sunshine. (We don’t have much choice.) Case in point: Artvoice’s 15th annual Mardi Gras celebration, a raucous debauch that continues to grow every year. Our cold weather revelry has placed Western New York solidly on the national Fat Tuesday map. Dozens of bars and clubs take part, and scores of entertainers—actors, musicians, drag queens, burlesquers—light up stages all around town. Starting at 5pm sharp, more than 40 floats will wend their way from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery down Elmwood Avenue to Allen Street, turn left, shoot down Main and Pearl Streets to Chippewa, swing back up Delaware to Allen Street, turn left, and wind down at Kleinhan’s Music Hall.
There will be drink and food specials everywhere you go, and friendly volunteers at the door of every establishment bestowing beads on the merrymakers. This year promises to be, by far, our Fattest Tuesday ever.
As ever, the price of admission to this fabulous, citywide debauch is a single $5 bracelet, available at all the fine venues listed in the pages ahead. And, as always, every single penny of that $5 benefits Hospice Buffalo, which for 30 years has been providing care and comfort to those nearing the end of their lives, as well as to their loved ones. The Artvoice Mardi Gras is one of the largest philanthropic Mardi Gras events in the country—and growing—and we cannot imagine doing this for anyone but Hospice, nor could we do it without their help. A worthy cause, if ever there was one, so don’t be shy about buying a drink for those gracious volunteers.
We owe others a great debt, too, of course. Our sponsors include some stalwarts who have been with us for years: Southern Comfort, Labatt, and 103.3 the Edge. We also thank the Buffalo Police Department, all the good folks in Buffalo’s City Hall, Comfort Suites (which offers a stellar room rate for those who need a place to crash downtown after the revelry, and kick $5 back to Hospice for each room), the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Curt Rotterdam, and of course the indefatigable Chevon Davis and her bevy of drag queens, who remain our official Mardi Gras goodwill ambassadors and grand marshals. Special thanks to Detective Ed Cotter, Jessica Christina, Paul Zoda, Corey Perla, Chris Lorek, Elise Kohler, Rachel Good, Jill Greenburg, Jeremy Lee, and Samantha McDonnell.
Thanks also to the heavenly host of float-builders, club owners, musicians, costumers, parade route volunteers, and the rest of those who toil to make the whole thing go off without a hitch, year after year.
Finally, thanks to all of you who come out in cold weather every Fat Tuesday to make the Artvoice Mardi Gras celebration one of this fair city’s best parties, year after year. Forget New Orleans. Welcome to Buffalo.
AV publisher Jamie Moses and his band will back up the chanteuse Caitlin at Adonia’s. They take the stage at 7pm.
At 8, one of the city’s newest and liveliest rockabilly acts, Kickstart Rumble, hits the stage at Buckin’ Buffalo, Buffalo’s one and only home for rhinestone cowboys.
The Tins play what they call “New Rock for the well trained ear.” The trio tsakes the stage at Century Grill at 9.
This is where you end the night, folks, not where you start it. Marcella opens at 9, and the drag show doesn’t begin until midnight. But it’s worth the wait.
Groove to the insane mashups of DJ 2%, a.k.a. Michael McKenica, from 8 until close.
The legendary Blues Hounds will rise out of the Southern Tier to cast a spell over the Croc Bar, one of the epicenters of mardi Gras on Chippewa. They play 5-8.
DJ Biacco will keep the crowd moving from 9 until well after midnight at Cozumel.
Essex Street Pub
The Essex Street Pub will feature music from local acts Tina Crapsi and Andrew Reimers. Crapsi, a singer-songwriter whose music recalls Fiona Apple and Tori Amos, recently won the Labatt Blue Light/WBFO On the Border Listeners’ Choice contest with her song “Ripped Pantyhose.” Reimers performs acoustic punk music with a tinge of country that complements any night of drinking in a dark bar.
Type Relevant, winner of Artvoice BOOM 2009, takes the stage at 6pm at Fat Bob’s Smokehouse. The band performs a blend of improv jazz and hip-hop, members include Brian Herlihy (guitar/lyricist), John Hunter (drums), and Mamudu Kargbo (vocals/lyricist). Be sure to take advantage of the Cajun specials at Fat Bob’s, including the Pork Bomb, a meat-lover’s slice of heaven: bacon wrapped in sausage wrapped in bacon then smoked in Fat Bob’s BBQ sauce.
A band with a name like Jazzbollah can only assemble itself every so often; more than once a month and they’d poses a serious security risk. Featuring members of Peanut Brittle Satellite, Anal Pudding, Universe Shark, A Hotel Nourishing, and Shapes of States, this collective’s music runs the gamut from dance music to jazz to rock. They play 6-9 at Frizzy’s.
Lafayette Tap Room
As every year, the Tap Room pours it on for Mardi Gras with an outlandish Cajun barbecue buffet and a killer lineup of entertainment: Sauce Boss Bill Wharton is a culinary entertainer for the ages, singing and cooking his recipes live on stage with a ’53 Telecaster and a cast-iron pot. Hailing from the deep Florida swamps, Wharton’s act has been widely covered, from CNN to the Food Network, from GQ to Gourmet Magazine. His nonprofit organization, Planet Gumbo, has filled stomachs and souls in homeless shelters across the country. Eye Candy Burlesque was formed in February 2006 by Chelsea Coletto, owner of Pole Play Dance Studio. The troupe puts on a steamy, sultry show both sexes can enjoy, mixing elaborate costumes and props, classic burlesque dance, and red-hot music to move to. Women are sure to leave the show feeling empowered, sexy, and positive, while their men will surely be entertained. LeeRon Zydeco and the Hot Tamales would be right at home on a float somewhere down Canal Street in New Orleans, bringing their brand of the American roots-folk music called Zydeco to the celebration. Ron Davis, a.k.a. LeeRon Zydeco, leads the band with his wild accordion and vocals like a gumbo-charged showman. His “edu-tainment” program, BorderBeat, focuses on American-roots music and cross-culturalization and has been presented in many schools and cultural centers. Davis also uses music as therapy in programs for the disabled.
First up at Goodbar is Shame Flute, playing from 4 to 6. Named after a medieval torture device worn by bad musicians, Shame Flute delivers a soothing jazzy sound that can be admired by all ages. Next up is Aqueous, playing from 7 to 10. Their influences include Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, Phish, Rush, and Jimi Hendrix.
The Mothership, the Launch Pad, the Big Daddy, Ground Zero, the Whole Enchilada, Where the Magic Happens. Whatever you want to call it, it’s what Nietzsche’s is during Mardi Gras in Buffalo. With nonstop performances all night, you can never go wrong at this venue. The night starts off early with blues/folk band Storyville Quartet at 6, featuring vintage-sounding vocals and soothing strum of the ukulele. The sound gets a whole lot grittier with the Heavenly Chillbillies at 7—blues/rock with an authentic roadhouse feel. Nietzsche’s switches gears yet again and loses some clothes with Fleuron Rouge and ZUUT at 8. Fleuron Rouge is a fusion belly-dancing troupe, which blends traditional belly dance moves with urban-tribal, hip-hop, and Bollywood influences. Up next are the Steam Donkeys, featuring AV’s own Buck Quigley. The swingingest honky-tonk band in town starts at 8:30. At the stroke of 10, the Queens of Mardi Gras hit the stage, led by Chevon Davis. The 12/8 Path Band rolls through the crowd at 10:45, and their trumpets, trombones, saxophones, and drums are sure to get everyone in a bead-throwing mood. The Stripteasers burlesque show hits the stage at 11. All good things must come to an end, and the Albrights—blending rock, blues, and classical pop—are going to do it right at 11:30.
The Ninth Ward at Babeville
The Ninth Ward’s raucous Mardi Gras celebration starts at 8pm, featuring live music from local New Orleans-influenced band Reverend Soapbox and the Rabble Rousers. Like an old phonograph record, the band recreates the earliest of American music straight from the guts of the French Quarter. Tod Kniazuk from the Big Easy in Buffalo music series will be the evening’s disc jockey, providing New Orleans music all night. (The Big Easy in Buffalo, a part of the Music is Art organization, brings New Orleans and Louisiana bands to the Queen City for school music education, cultural programs, and concerts.) There will be plenty of Creole cuisine to enjoy, like jambalaya, crawfish, veggie red beans and rice, all of which will be cheap and delicious.
Nothing preempts karaoke at Q. Nothing. Not even Mardi Gras. Which, by the way, is awesome at this Allen Street institution.
The kind of party that happens on Mardi Gras is everyday fare for Roxy’s: Hence, two of the club’s standbys, DJ Lil Joe and the Stripteasers, hold down the fort.
The Third Room
LeeRon Zydeco and the Hot Tamales will zip up to the Third Room for a show at 10, Before and after—starting at 5 and spinning until close—it’s DJ Whorehey.
Visit the Artvoice Mardi Gras website for more information, or click here to download a PDF copy [1.2mb] of the Mardi Gras spread as it appears in the February 11th print edition of Artvoice.blog comments powered by Disqus
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