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Wild Magnolias

Wild Magnolias

Mighty-kooti-fiyo, “hey pocky way'”and “jackomo-feena-hay” are familiar phrases in only one place on the planet -the Crescent City, y’all. During Mardi Gras you can hear the various black Indian tribes calling out those Creole chants while parading down Claiborne Avenue, resplendent in spectacular hand-sewn feathered costumes. It’s a sight to behold and the rhythms they bang out on tambourines anhand percussiogradually work their way on your nervous system until you’re at least tapping your foot, if not joining in behind them in a second line.

While the Mardi Gras Indians tradition of masking andparading dates backto the late 1880s, it didn’t start crossing over into mainstream consciousness until 1970, when a young Tulane student named Quint Davis (now producer of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival) approached Big Chief Emile “Bo” Dollis of the Wild Magnolias about cutting a 45. That disc, “Handa Wanda, Pts. 1 & 2,” stirred up curiosity about the Indians. With the 1974 release of The Wild Magnolias (Polydor), awareness of that New Orleans subculture soon spread to other parts of the country.

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