Mardi Gras, also known as Carnival, is a Christian holiday that was established around existing pagan spring and fertility rites. You see, when Christian leaders got a little power in Rome, they figured it was easier to incorporate pagan holidays into their calendar than to try to get rid of them. And the result? A beautiful bacchanal before the austerity of Lent’s 40-day fast leading up to Easter Sunday.

Mardi Gras is celebrated across the historically Catholic world, but Venice, Rio and, of course, New Orleans are known best for their festivities. For our Fat Tuesday purposes, we’re going to celebrate New Orleans style with Mardi Gras Radio on Real Jazz (Ch. 67) from Sunday, Feb. 7 at 4 pm ET through Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 9 am ET. But what does that mean, New Awlins style? To help prime you for the party, Real Jazz programmer Mark Ruffin gave us five quintessential Mardi Gras Radio songs and why they’re so important.

 

Shortyville
“Trombone Shorty is one of the hottest jazz stars in the country and may be the biggest draw in the genre. He brings a New Orleans party vibe wherever he goes, that’s why he’s a must for Mardi Gras Radio.”

Mardi Gras in New Orleans
“The tradition of the typical New Orleans brass band changed when the Dirty Dozen Brass Band guys started adding pop, funk and hip-hop to the mix.”

Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans
“Of the dozens of versions of this Crescent City chestnut, no musician tugs at the heartstrings more than Louis Armstrong.”

Big Chief
“No track better exemplifies the Mardi Gras spirit than this collaboration by Dee Dee Bridgewater, Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, taken from one of the best jazz albums of 2015—Dee Dee’s Feathers.”

Southern Nights
“Throughout the three days of Mardi Gras Radio, SiriusXM will be honoring the recently departed New Orleans songwriting legend Allen Toussaint.”

For a free 30-day trial, check out http://www.siriusxm.com/freetrial

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