GHOST DANCE MUSIC
The Mardi Gras Indian music of New Orleans developed over the course of a century before Big Chief Bo Dollis of the Wild Magnolias and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux of the Golden Eagles teamed up with Willie Tee and the New Orleans Project in 1970 to fuse the traditional Indian chants with modern instrumental street funk and create a new musical form of unprecedented rhythmic and spiritual power.
For 40 years Mardi Gras Indian funk has forged its course in the world of contemporary music and now reaches a new stage with the emergence of the 101 Runners, a remarkable ensemble fronted by Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, a formidable singer, powerful moral presence and fearless leader of men, and emerging master singer War Chief Juan Pardo of the Golden Comanches on Wild Indian vocals.
They're backed by a relentless rhythm section led by drummer Ajay Mallery with Lionel Batiste Jr. on bass drum, Boubacaar Cissikko on African drum, Ike "The Running Drummer" Kinchen on percussion and founder Chris Jones at the congas, with co-founder Tom Worrell on keyboards, Jimmy Carpenter on baritone saxophone and brilliant new additions June Yamagishi on guitar and Cornell Williams on bass.
Now the 101 is with us in all its considerable glory, tearing up Tipitina's on a Saturday night early in 2010 with a flawless program of Wild Indian classics like "Injuns Here Dey Come" and "Let's Go Get 'Em," incredible Monk Boudreaux readings of his signature numbers "Shotgun Joe" and "Shallow Water," and War Chief Juan's impressive performance of "Sew Sew Sew" and the great new Mardi Gras Indian anthem, "My Big Chief's on Fire."
Monk Boudreaux is in peak form throughout but nowhere more moving than in his spoken introduction and spirited performance of a new autobiographical tour-de-force titled "Black Johnny," where the Big Chief pays deep homage to an important early mentor and details how the Mardi Gras Indian music, rituals and cultural heritage are passed on from one generation to the next.
That's the story of 101 Runners -- they're picking it up and passing it on, right here, right now. Mighty coup de fiyo and Mardi Gras to the World!
Bohemian National Home, Detroit
March 16, 2010