When you think of Mardi Gras certain songs like the Mardi Gras Mambo and Big Chief are the ones that get you going. They’re the music of the Carnival Season.
Back in the day, one guy decided ‘hey, you should get to listen to all the good Mardi Gras music together’, and this is that guy’s story.
Mardi Gras is one of the few holiday seasons outside of Christmas that has its own music. In fact Mardi Gras ain’t Mardi Gras without the music, and we’ve got Warren Hildebrand to thank for putting all those great tunes in one place.
Hildebrand says, “Mardi Gras in New Orleans Vol I. I put that out on an album and a cassette and an 8-track back in 1976. The way that came about was my dad was in the record business, he was a wholesale distributor with All South Distributors, and he handled all those 45’s. Carnival Time, Big Chief, and Go to the Mardi Gras, Handa Wanda, and every year at carnival time we would sell those to the jukeboxes and to the record stores around the city…pretty much only in the city. And I saw that wow, if we could put this together on a compilation album, which was the thing back then it would probably sell really well.”
After all these years, and surrounded by so many great songs, Warren says Fess’ tune is the biggest of the Mardi Gras songs. “Of the songs, I would like to think the biggest one is Big Chief by Professor Longhair, which incidentally that one was originally on a ’45 on Watch Records which was my dad’s record label.”
Warren shared with us the zany stories of having to track down songs, artists, managers and the like to put the compilations together. Even the artwork for the album was an adventure for he and producer Phillipe Rault.
“I just gathered up a bunch of photographs, there was no internet back then, of different Carnival scenes, and Phillipe sent it off to an artist he knew in Ibiza, an island off the coast of Spain, and this guy came up with that iconic cover of like a Zulu King on a playing card upside down”, says Hildebrand.
So whether you’re second lining at the parade or yelling ‘throw me something Mister’, you now know that you have Mardi Gras Records to thank for doing the Mardi Gras Mambo.