The Wild Magnolias
The tradition of Mardi Gras Indians, a ceremonial phenomenon that dates back to late 1800s, is one of the high points of the Mardi Gras experience. Specifically, the Wild Magnolias are a dancing/marching parade group more than a band per se. In accordance with the tradition, they march through the streets and face off with other "tribes" from around the city, with the best dance routine and wildest costumes determining the winning group. The Wild Magnolias are arguably the most well-known among the many neighborhood factions for the simple fact that they've released a number of unstoppably danceable records. The music is highly percussive, with a minimum of instruments other than drums and human voice, and it follows the basic, shave-and-a-haircut rhythms associated with "Willie and the Hand Jive" and Bo Diddley. The Wild Magnolias are an ebullient example of the mania that envelops New Orleans on Fat Tuesday, but they also keep that city's sometimes impenetrable culture alive.