Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tchoupitoulas painting courtesy of the multi-talented Tony Green

glisten: hey now pocky way

The Wild Tchoupitoulas - "Here Dey Come"

The Wild Tchoupitoulas - "Big Chief Got a Golden Crown"

Too late for me to finally cap up the numbers collection so I figured I'd fill in with a quick twosome from one of my favorite bands of all time: The Wild Tchoupitoulas.

The Wild Tchoupitoulas (pronounced CHOP-uh-TOO-luhz) are a prominent tribe of Mardi Gras Indians, probably the best known krewe in that hallowed (and bloody) tradition.

Decades before Andre caught shit for it, New Orleans 'tribes' competed for sartorial and musical superiority in stupendously rococo rhinestone Indian outfits during the Mardi Gras festival. The Tchoupitoulas were first founded in the late sixties and received worldwide attention as the first tribe to record for a major label.

The lead Tchoupitoulas you hear on these tracks are held aloft by a stellar collection of artists: the backing music is by the Meters and the backing vocals are laid down by the Neville Brothers. Both of these groups were all but created for the sake of these recordings (this is the first session the Neville Brothers ever cut) and there's an undeniable shine of chemistry and fresh creative energy that drives these amazing songs to hard-partying heights. All in all, these are about as funky a riff on the 'move bitch, get out th' way' school of music as you're likely to hear.

On a personal note: as I was growing up my father would frequently play this album around the house and the cover was often out on display. Blame the lax Tennessee school system, but until fifth grade or so this gorgeous (and iconic) cover was pretty much my only exposure to native american culture; so at the age of ten or so I was under the impression that native americans were BLACK.

This made perfect sense at the time but certainly led to some very confusing Thanksgivings.

Heeeeeeeey, Pocky A-Way!

Buy "The Wild Tchoupitoulas", the band's eponymous and ONLY release, from Amazon.

Every single song on this album is straight fire. Not a dud in the bunch. It's fabulous stuff and highly recommended for inclusion in every man and woman's CD collection; if I saw this on your shelf, I would instantaneously decide that you had stellar taste.

Impress me, goddamnit! Go get it!
Read Rick Bragg's Pulitzer prize winning piece on the Mardi Gras Indians.
Visit the Neville Brothers official homepage and visit the Meters official homepage.
Read this brief bio of the Nevilles, with due explanation of their part in the Tchoupitoulas.
This interview with Charles Neville explains (among many other details) where the band got its name:

The Wild Tchoupitoulas -- their base was on Tchoupitoulas Street... The way they got "Wild" in... their names was the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show came to New Orleans and the Wild Indians were a part of the show.
Read this interview with Tchoupitoulas contemporary Bo Dollis of the Wild Magnolias.