Hoosier Mardi Gras: Creole parties 

There are an impressive number of Mardi Gras-related events happening throughout Central Indiana this week. Fuel up on gumbo, grab your beads and don’t forget the city of New Orleans.

•    Here’s a fresh change of pace — a Mardi Gras tradition that does not involve showing body parts for beads. The Mardi Gras Indians will appear at the Garfield Park Arts Center (2432 Conservatory Drive) on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. The appearance will mark the first time the band has reunited since Hurricane Katrina. Admission is free.

For over 250 years, there has been a tradition in New Orleans of combining rituals of Native Americans, Africans and the Caribbean with elaborate costumes, singing, chanting and dancing. The tribe’s most recognizable chant is “Iko Iko,” a staple song for the likes of Dr. John and the Neville Brothers, among many others. The Indians have become a symbol of the spirit and musical tradition of New Orleans — a symbol and tradition now needed more than ever.

•    Buckwheat Zydeco will perform at the Music Mill (3720 E. 82nd St.) on Sunday, Feb. 18. BZ has been a bandleader for over 35 years and carries on the tradition of Zydeco giants like Clifton Chenier and Boozoo Chavis. His latest album, Jackpot! (Tomorrow), not only features BZ’s reliable accordion, but he’s also handy on the Hammond B-3 organ. For those who want a double dose of BZ, he will also play at the Lafayette Brewing Company (622 Main St., Lafayette) on Wednesday, Feb. 14.

• For those who love road trips, Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band will be at The Key Palace Theater in Redkey, Ind. This party band mixes the traditional sounds of Louisiana with fun originals like “Who Stole the Hot Sauce?” The band has also been known to take a familiar song (War’s “Cisco Kid,” The Who’s “Squeeze Box”) and add some Louisiana spice. All of these examples can be heard on Carrier’s latest album, Bayou Road, which features liner notes written by yours truly.

Editor’s note: You can also travel north for Muncie Gras 2007, held Saturday, Feb. 17 from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m, for ages 21 and older. The event is held on the streets of downtown Muncie. Gates are located at Walnut and Main streets, as well as Jackson and High streets. Indy’s Jennie DeVoe and other musicians will perform.

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