Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 22, 2019 / Mara Beasley
So here we are a bunch of hung-over exhausted sunburned Popeyes-eatin twenty somethings on Mardi Gras night...without a clue that this song (played over and over at the Rex Ball) is quite literally a key link to the birth of modern Carnival. If I Ever Cease to Listen to Mardi Gras Music You won t find the tune on many Mardi Gras compilation CDs. The song is practically buried under the classic Carnival R&B hits by guys like the Nevilles and even Oliver "Who Shot The LaLa" Morgan (yes that s the name on his birth certificate). There are several great versions of "If Ever I Cease To Love" on iTunes ready for download.
The celebration of the last day before Lent dates back to at least the Middle Ages when men of noble lineage or accomplishment were knighted and formal banquets took place to honor the occasion. Mardi Gras which means Fat Tuesday in French as an alternate name for Shrove Tuesday was established in New Orleans while the city was under French control and was maintained as a major festival even when the territory was relinquished into Spanish hands as well as after the Louisiana Purchase was signed and the state of Louisiana officially joined the Union.
Behind the band come six "strong men" from the village often the tradition of carrying the torch or flambeaux is passed from father to son as the elder gets on in years. They sometimes have a helper walking beside them just in case. It s a hard and difficult job. The torches are similar in length to a caber and have been soaked for many months to ensure they stay alight. The flambeaux are then followed by many floats in which the local inhabitants deck both the float and themselves out in a variety of colours and costumes. Many are topical political statements. The more whisky that s handed around the waiting crowd the funnier they seem.