Mudcat Café message #1651758 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #88125   Message #1651758
Posted By: Azizi
19-Jan-06 - 07:00 PM
Thread Name: Iko Iko
Subject: RE: Iko Iko has an interview with Big Chief Bo Dollis of the Wild Magnolia. Bo Dollis wrote "Handa Wanda" and other chants that are now Mardi Gras Indian classics.

Here's an introduction to the interview:

For a hundred years or more, the Mardi Gras Indians conducted their Sunday evening "Indian practices" and annual Carnival Day celebrations strictly within the confines of the city's African American neighborhoods, preserving the essence of African music within an uniquely American context. The instruments that propelled the tribes as they hit the streets on Mardi Gras were limited to bass drums, tom-toms, tambourines and even beer bottles struck with sticks, and that was the way black people in New Orleans heard the music for a very long time.

But it all changed one Sunday in 1970 when Quint Davis, producer of the fledgling New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, walked into an Indian practice and listened to Big Chief Bo Dollis of the Wild Magnolia sing the traditional chants. After the practice, Davis approached the Big Chief and asked if he'd consider recording his music with a band backing him up.

Davis assembled an all-star R&B unit, the New Orleans Project with pianist Willie Tee, guitarist Snooks Eaglin, Willie's brother Earl Turbinton on saxophones and a smoking rhythm section and took the Wild Magnolias and their battery of street percussionists into the studio with them to record a Bo Dollis original called "Handa Wanda." Released on 45 rpm, this single recording spawned a whole new genre of New Orleans music as it fused the ancient sounds of the Wild Indians with the new world of funk to create something that had never been heard before.

Spurred by the enthusiastic response to the single from the patrons of street-corner bars all across the Crescent City, Davis secured a two-LP recording contract for the Wild Magnolias with Barclay Records of France and went back into the studio to cut a full album's worth of material. Released on Polydor Records in the United States, The Wild Magnolias with its irresistible rhythms, brilliant solo work by Snooks Eaglin and the lusty lead vocals of Bo Dollis became an instant classic, introducing traditional Wild Indian songs like "Two-Way-Pak-E-Way" and Bo Dollis/Willie Tee originals like "Smoke My Peace Pipe" and "(Somebody's Got) Soul, Soul, Soul."

A second album, They Call Us Wild, was issued in 1975, and the Wild Magnolias took briefly to the road to explore a new career as stage performers. But Polydor failed to exercise its option for U.S. release of the LP, and soon the Magnolias returned to their Third Ward neighborhood and their traditional role as cultural preservationists. They continued to make an annual appearance on stage at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, where they were joined by fellow Mardi Gras Indian gangs like the Black Eagles, Wild Tchoupitoulas and other established tribes.

The Wild Magnolias' professional career was revived in the '80s by the late Allison Miner, who put a band behind them, booked club and concert dates, and landed a contract with Rounder Records. Their 1990 release, I'm Back at Carnival Time, added a new layer of musical innovation when they brought in the Re-Birth Brass Band to accompany several Wild Indian numbers. On Super Sunday Showdown (1991) they collaborated with Dr. John and Willie Tee on two tunes and cut the relentless "Let's Go Get 'Em" and "Shoo-Fly" with Re-Birth backing them up."