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Themes of lost love, family and — of course — celebration are often the heartbeat of traditional ballads, and they have the unique ability to make even the deepest cynic get misty-eyed (or a complete klutz try out the floor at a dance hall).

As master accordion maker and Cajun music expert Marc Savoy writes, “[Cajun music] is a people’s music that expresses…an entire cultural history. It makes no difference if the songs are in a language that the rest of the world can’t understand.

Barkus, the original New Orleans Mardi Gras canine parade, was founded in 1992, where all great Carnival institutions are conceived: in a barroom. Biscuit was discovered in an open field out near Lafayette, La., in the days following Hurricane Rita — more than three weeks after Katrina had laid waste to the rest of South Louisiana in the fall of 2005. Major producers and new-wave craft distillers alike have revived forgotten liquors (like rye and aquavit) and rolled out innovative new products, like bourbons finished in sherry casks.

And scratches her belly when the masses are at bay.

Davis booked Tee, who would soon form the seminal New Orleans funk band the Gaturs, to play a show alongside Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias on Tulane’s campus.

Onstage, the traditional sound of Indian chants, drums and tambourines met electric soul music likely for the first time.

(He’s also employing some used Rémy Martin cognac casks for aging.) Today, Cane Land Distilling sells four styles of rum, including a traditional molasses-based rum, a Martinique-style rhum agricole (made from fresh-pressed sugarcane) a spiced rum and a cinnamon rum. She was feted with lamb chops and oysters at Galatoire’s Restaurant on Bourbon Street. It was named best cocktail ingredient this year in Although the largest and most famous Mardi Gras in America is celebrated in New Orleans, there’s a lot of evidence pointing to the idea that the first such event did, in fact, take place about 150 miles to the east and 15 years before the Crescent City was founded — in Mobile, Alabama, in 1703.

(He also makes a vodka from sugarcane, and sells a whiskey “imported” by riverboat down the Mississippi). The Barkus parade in New Orleans is getting ready to roll. (I was served an iced tea, sweet.) On parade day, a team of young and sturdy animal shelter volunteers pushed us through the streets of the French Quarter in a rickety wooden float. In 1699, the explorer Pierre le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, had named his Plaquemines Parish campsite “Pointe du Mardi Gras,” realizing that, as he and his party were bedding down by the river, that very holiday was taking place in France.

So he bought several 5,000-gallon wooden vats once used by cognac makers in France, had them dismantled and shipped, then flew in four French coopers, who spent five days reassembling them. The theme of the 2007 Barkus parade was “A Street Dog Named Desire.” Biscuit’s name and picture were published in the paper. It’s made from Louisiana sugar and strawberries from Johndales Strawberry Farm in Ponchatoula, and given a deep crimson color with hibiscus flowers.And in 1711, the first Mardi Gras parade rolled in Mobile.Mobile’s venerable Carnival celebration now includes 72 mystic societies that parade, present debutantes, host balls, crown royalty or otherwise celebrate; some have been operating consistently since as far back as the 1830s.It’s been the topic of a 2008 PBS documentary, a 2017 New York Times article and photo essay, and certainly plenty of good-natured arguments between Alabamians and Louisianans over the decades.On the Saturday preceding the Courir de Mardi Gras years ago, I found myself winding through an early-morning street party towards the sound of an accordion ringing out bright and tinny from a tiny nearby bar.

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