Music and Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is a tradition of indulgence in the days leading up to the beginning of Lent, a period of time before Easter, wherein many sects of Christianity, followers practice fasting. Often associated with consuming in excess, Mardi Gras is celebrated throughout the world and in America, has found its home in New Orleans, Louisiana. The first American Mardi Gras celebration took place near modern-day New Orleans on March 3, 1699, and now 320 years later, the Oral History Collection celebrates Mardi Gras by featuring some great interviews from The Big Easy.

You can’t have Mardi Gras without music and who better to represent NOLA during its biggest time of the year than music icons such as Dr. John, Deacon John Moore, and Allen Toussiant.

Unofficial ambassador of New Orleans music, Dr. John harnesses the mystic and voodoo traditions of southern Louisiana which has become the basis for many Mardi Gras celebrations over the years. A staple in the New Orleans studio scene, Deacon John Moore, is the quintessential name behind the iconic New Orleans sound and was indispensable in the heyday of R&B. The late Allen Toussaint was the musician, songwriter, and arranger in the area, using elements of blues, jazz, ragtime, R&B, and funk to create a whole new NOLA sound.

While musicians serve as the boisterous face of New Orleans and Mardi Gras, we would be remiss to fail to mention iconic New Orleans retailer, Werlein’s For Music, which set up shop in Louisiana in 1853 and remained a fixture in the community until its closing in March 2003. As a proponent of making music available to the public, Mardi Gras and New Orleans music wouldn’t be the same if not for this retailer.

Check out these stories and more by viewing the New Orleans, Louisiana tag.


Elizabeth Dale
Public Relations Coordinator


Dan Del Fiorentino
Music Historian