February 23, 2005

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Beats, beads and breasts
Mardi Gras hits a town near you
By Richie Victorino  rvictorino@hippopress.com

Mardi Gras can be crazy and out of control. It can also be classy and reserved. Here are two options for you to celebrate Mardi Gras this year.

Mardi Gras music
Displaced New Orleans jazz vocalist Henri (pronounced on-ree) Smith lives in temporary housing in Gloucester, Mass. But less than a year ago, he lived a comfortable life in his hometown of New Orleans, as a radio personality and emcee for the New Orleans Jazz Fest.

He was born with music in the soul and was even a neighbor of a banjo player who would get occasional visits from folks such as the Neville brothers.

“Each time they’d play I’d sit in the yard and listen to them,” Smith said.

Down the street from Smith’s childhood home lived Dave Bartholomew, a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, who penned songs for people including Fats Domino.

When he was 10, Smith installed speakers into his mother’s beauty salon as a way to help spread jazz to everyone.

“I felt obligated to help keep the music alive in New Orleans,” he said.

Smith’s debut album, New Orleans Friends and Flavours, was released in 2001 on Bluejay Records. During this time he befriended Nat Simpkins, who would later play a pivotal role in bringing Smith to the northeast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Smith is now creating a new life for himself, while holding on to his past. He hopes to return to New Orleans for the jazz festival in April.

Mardi Gras madness
Aside from great music, Mardi Gras is also known for its abundance of beads and breasts. Guys dish out beads to women who go the extra mile to “earn” them. This part of Mardi Gras will be honored at Scorz on Friday, Feb. 24.

“Every guy gets free beads with admission,” said Brian Miller, who organizes shows for Scorz. “The women don’t get any. They have to earn them.”

And how do they earn them?

“Man, I’m at work, do I have to explain it?” he said.

Without getting too descriptive, Miller said women will have to follow tradition, and show their chests to get the beads.

But Scorz’ Mardi Gras celebration is more than just beads and breasts. Five bands will take the stage, including Six Day Slide, Parkview, Harriet Street, Tides and the headlining act, Theoryshift.

“I’m psyched. These bands are all headliners,” Miller said.

Lowellrocks.com is helping organize the show. Randy Breton, Director of Promotions for Lowellrocks.com will accept cash donations which he’ll donate to the Red Cross Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund. He’ll also sell Rockin’ for Relief t-shirts, with proceeds going to the Red Cross.

Comments?Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at hippoflea.com

Say What?
Henri Smith performs with the Workingman’s Jazz Band, including Nat Simpkins and Rick Maida, as part of a Mardi Gras celebration on Friday, Feb. 24, at 8 p.m. at the Colonial Inn. The Colonial Inn is located at 48 Monument Square, Concord, Mass., (978) 897-7627. There is no cover. For more on Smith, go to www.sonicbids.com/NatSimpkinsHenriSmith.

Scorz’ Mardi Gras celebration takes place on Friday, Feb. 24. The cost is $5 for 21+, $10 for 18+.
For more on each band, go to their Web sites:
Six Day Slide: www.sixdayslide.com
Parkview: www.parkviewtunes.com
Harriet Street: www.harrietstreetband.com
Tides: www.myspace.com/tidesboston
Theory Shift: www.theoryshiftmusic.com .