It’s Mardi Gras time in Durham! The Triangle’s original Mardi Gras celebration is still the biggest and still the best. We’ve got the finest musical lineup ever, great food, great costumes, and those quirky traditions that put the Durham in Mardi Gras. Read on for all the details of what’s going on where and when.
Here’s a quick schedule, see below for details:
Motorco (723 Rigsbee Avenue; Durham, NC 27701)
7:30-8:30 Boom Unit Brass Band
9:00-11:00 Bulltown Strutters
The Blue Note Grill (709 Washington Street)
8:15 – 9:30 The Wiley Fosters
10:00 – 11:15 Coleslaw
Fullsteam Brewery (726 Rigsbee Avenue)
8:00-9:15 The Tan and Sober Gentlemen
9:45-11:00 The Ragweed Brass
The Pit Authentic Barbecue (321 W Geer Street)
8:15-9:30 The Cajammers
10:00-11:15 Shamu Garcon
The Bar (711 Rigsbee Avenue)
9:30 The Mardi Gras Drag Show
One thing that’s new this year is that the streets are being taken over by ‘krewes’, as they are called in New Orleans. These ‘social and pleasure clubs’ take it upon themselves to create costumes, performances in the streets, marches around the city, and generally bring festivity and happiness to all. Anybody from New Orleans will tell you that krewes are a big part, if not the biggest part, of what Mardi Gras is all about down there, and we want them to become a big part in Durham, too. To that end, we’re letting the krewes show us what they’ve got and run the streets in lieu of us organizing a formal parade. Some krewes haven’t told us what they’re doing. So…we’ll find out! Even though we’re not organizing them ourselves, we’ll list krewe events as part of your Mardi Gras – because they are!
Now here’s some more info on those events:
Motorco will have a menu of New Orleans and Louisiana favorites and, as every year, it’s the place to get your hurricanes. Mardi Gras specialties can also be had at: The Pit, The Blue Note Grill, and Geer Street Garden.
Boom Unit Brass Band (Motorco 7:30-8:30)
BUBB’s popularity has taken off and they have risen up to become the area’s premiere New Orleans style brass, funk, and party band. Modeled after top contemporary New Orleans acts such as The Soul Rebels and Rebirth Brass Band, they mix soul, jazz, funk, hip-hop, rock and pop into a unique gumbo with a New Orleans twist. They’ll do everything from old-school New Orleans classics to classic old school hip-hop. They’ll hit you with their own brand new originals and they’ll put their own spin on some unique arrangements that will make you say, “I had no idea a brass band could do that!” With some of the areas’ top horn players, fiery solos and unbeatable energy, this music will have you up and dancing!
Check this out:
The Bulltown Strutters (Motorco 9:00-11:00)
Durham’s beloved and quirky Bulltown Strutters have been in it since the beginning as the original and forever host band of Durham’s Mardi Gras. They were living it up New Orleans style and pulling out all the stops on Fat Tuesday long before every town around decided they’d try to copy Durham’s Mardi Gras. Way back, when even in Durham, Fat Tuesday was more like Just Another Tuesday; they marched through the streets of Durham with their Big Bass Drum and into Motorco with 500 people in tow, much to the surprise of the two poor bartenders behind a quiet Motorco bar. Ever since that day, hanging at Motorco with the Strutters has been the place to be on Fat Tuesday. If you haven’t seen this goofy, fun-loving and be-sequined band of Durham eccentrics, come find out why they have such a devoted following.
Check this out:
The Wiley Fosters (Blue Note Grill 8:15-9:30)
The Wiley Fosters have been the kings of the Hillsborough music scene for several years now, and it’s easy to see why. We thought it was about time to lure them over to Durham from their home base in Mystery Brewing Company.
This band has more star power than maybe any group around. Its members draw from an astounding number and variety of North Carolina’s greatest groups, past and present, including The Squirrel Nut Zippers, Tres Chicas, Hazeldine, Curtis Eller’s American Circus, The Wusses, Skidaddle, Archbishops of Blount Street, Boom Unit Brass Band, The Bulltown Strutters, Katharine Whalen’s Jazz Squad, and many more. Any one of them would be the star in any other band, but here, they’re just part of the constellation. Led by the indefatigable William Dawson, formerly of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, this ever morphing collective puts on a completely different show every time, with different tunes, different singers, different instruments and a new theme every show. No matter how many times you’ve see them you will always be blown away by something new. It’s probably no surprise that this time the theme is Mardi Gras!
A while back, somebody even did a documentary about how it all began:
You might as well watch this instead of a clip of a past show, because hey, it changes every time!
Coleslaw (Blue Note Grill 8:15-9:30)
Hillsborough’s Coleslaw has been gathering an ever larger following for their enthusiastic and energetic performances across the area. Much as the Mardi Gras festival hosts The Bulltown Strutters have embodied Durham’s eclectic eccentricity and funneled it through the lens of New Orleans second line music, Coleslaw takes Hillsborough’s quirky character and channels it through North Carolina’s bluegrass and folk. They started off with the traditional instruments – bass, banjo, guitar, and mandolin – but then they kept growing. They added drums, trumpet, sax and a saw. They even pulled in the town’s blacksmith, who started welding until he came up with just the right sounding musical sculpture to whack the hell out of. He is not your grandfather’s percussionist and it’s not your grandfather’s bluegrass either.
Here’s an early video, back when they were smaller:
The Tan and Sober Gentlemen (Fullsteam 8:00-9:15)
We’ve gotten more buzz about this band than just about any other this year. Those who’ve seen them will tell you that once you show up, you’re in for a ride. As far as folk music goes, or any music for that matter, they’re about the best drinking and dancing band you’ll find.
Born and raised in the North Carolina backcountry, The Tan and Sober Gentlemen began taking in the songs, stories, and tunes that make up their beloved state’s heritage before they could talk. They’ve toured the East Coast from Boston to Savannah, gracing such stages as the Haw River Ballroom, Cat’s Cradle, and festivals such as Shakori Hills.
The band aims to explore the Celtic roots of North Carolinian music, and to play it with a fire and intensity they feel is lacking in much of today’s folk music. The result is Scotch-Irish hillbilly insanity they dub “Celtic punk-grass.” If you’re looking for high energy insanity, look no further.
Check it out:
Take a peek of what you’re in for:
Ragweed Brass (Fullsteam 9:45-11:00)
Ragweed Brass takes listeners back to the days when jazz, blues and folk music were forming together. With a vocal-driven repertoire that blends original tunes with classics of the jug band and old N’Orleans days, Ragweed Brass springs up from the ground to make folks hum and clap, dance and tap their toes. The lineup features Dave Henderson, vocals, guitar and banjo; Jesse Jordan, vocals and strings; Ernie Renn, percussion; Jim Henderson, soprano sax; George Allen, trombone; and Mark Daumen, tuba.
You can take a listen here [https://soundcloud.com/user-372774162]
The Cajammers (The Pit 8:15-9:30)
Cajammers is a North Carolina band that has been playing an exuberant mix of Cajun, Zydeco, and swamp pop since 2012. Unique to the group is a trio of female fiddlers who adore sharing their love for Louisiana-inspired tunes with the audience. Every year the Cajun dancers arrive en masse to strut their stuff, and a lot of them can be found over in The Pit at the Cajun Stage, making the beautiful wood floors creak in rhythm. This is the place to come to work off those extra king cake calories!
Members include Heather Henry (fiddle), Dianne Freund (fiddle), Christine Westfall (fiddle), Cathy Pratt Davis (Cajun accordion), Mel Dejesus (bass), Joe Galas (keyboard), Elvis Latiolais (guitar), Tony Matthews (guitar and mandolin), and Kathy Parry (percussion).
Check ’em out:
Thank you for making the Cajammers debut at The Blue Note fun and successful. Special thanks to Bill, Michael, the staff and the dancers! Thanks also to Joyce for getting me started with editing our first video.
Posted by Cajammers on Friday, July 28, 2017
Shamu Garcon (The Pit 10:00-11:15)
Shamu Garcon are another long-time favorite on the Cajun dance scene. Featuring seasoned musicians Chris Mankoff (fiddle), Tim Wells (guitar, fiddle, harmonica, tit fers, and banjo), Joe Galas (accordion, keyboards), Harold Brady (bass), and Billy Alphin (drums), Shamu Garcon is considered by many to be one of the finest traditional Cajun bands around. Don’t miss doing a Cajun two-step or waltz (someone will show you how) with this band.
Take a listen:
The Mardi Gras Drag Show (The Bar 9:00-???)
Can you believe it that some people have never seen a drag show? Or maybe you’re even one of them. Well, whether you’re a seasoned drag show veteran or drag show newbie, when better to drop by for a taste of feather boa than Mardi Gras? The Bar has been putting on the Mardi Gras Drag show, not to mention plenty of others, for long enough that you can rest assured they are the experts. Featuring Storie Daie, Spray Jay and Jada J Wess. Watch the drag queens strut their stuff, then strut yours at the dance party right after.
During the week of St. Valentine Parizade will have a variety of ways to spoil the one you love with all your favorite Mediterranean flavors and the romantic backdrop that is the whimsical Cafe Parizade.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14
To kick off festivities we will exclusively offer our decadently delicious special a la carte menu for our dinner service. (see offerings on our website)
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15
We will of course be hosting the sensual Spanish Guitar tunes of Alex Gordez from 6:00pm to 9:00pm.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16
As a finale to our Valentine’s week we will enjoy the seductive serenades of the lovely Jo Gore on Friday from 6:00pm to 9:00pm!
To ensure your seats to celebrate these special evenings with please call the restaurant or visit our reservations page.
Heartland Baroque is thrilled to perform a concert on the upcoming 2018 North Carolina HIP (Historically-Informed Performance) Music Festival, “Baroquen-Hearted: A Valentine’s Love Letter to 17th-Century Italy,” a program which celebrates the passion and allure of Italy in the middle of the 17-Century. While some folks may associate Valentine’s Day with hearts, flowers, candy, and champagne, Heartland Baroque, along with guest artist, Soprano Margaret Carpenter Haigh, is excited to enchant you with a rich and varied musical “box of chocolates!” Heartland Baroque members Martie Perry and David Wilson, baroque violins, Keith Collins, dulcian, Barbara Krumdieck, baroque cello, and William Simms, theorbo, along with guest artist, Margaret Carpenter Haigh, soprano, pay tribute to this forward-thinking musical world of 17th-Century Italy in a program of instrumental and vocal music full of deep delights from composers that include Marco Uccellini, Girolamo Frescobaldi, Isabella Leonarda, and Barbara Strozzi.
Music Maker and the Bullpen present a special Wednesday night Valentines Day show at the Bullpen with Thomas Rhyant’s Sam Cooke Soul Revue! Soul singer Thomas Rhyant serenades all the lovers and lonely hearts out there with classic Sam Cooke hits from the golden era of soul and R&B.
Nora Jane Struthers has written “some of the most quietly powerful narratives within the new wave of Americana artists” – NPR Music. The songs that weave themselves into the fabric of listeners’ lives are usually the ones in which an artist lays her soul bare for the world to hear. Struthers’ new album Champion, is built on these kinds of songs. The 13-song collection written with her band the Party Line, is the follow-up to 2015’s Wake, which earned Struthers acclaim from major outlets like NPR Music, Rolling Stone Country, and “Fresh Air” and their Live show is full to the brim with stellar musicianship, unexpected arrangements that blur the lines between folk, roots, and rock, and an audible sense that everyone in the room is having a damn good time.
Dvořák Stabat Mater
Saturday, February 17
“The mother standing” opens the 13th century Latin hymn portraying the
sorrows of Mary as she stood at the foot of the cross during Jesus’ crucifixion.
Dvořák’s setting offers sublime music of profound contemplation,
with simple beauty, expressive solo singing, and rich orchestral colors.
Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen puts on the best party in Durham. The unofficially crowned Queen of the Bullpen has all the mettle, pathos and ocean-deep compassion of Billie Holiday, Koko Taylor and Etta James, with her own dramatic flair and wicked humor. Miss her at your own risk.
Bikram Yoga Durham, located on the Golden Belt campus, is hosting a very special event this weekend!
All are invited to a Sacred Sound Bath Sunday. This healing session is offered by Garth Robertson, who uses a variety of instruments from around the world, selected for their healing tones and frequencies. Comfortable clothes are suggested. Bring whatever you need to be comfortable on the floor. Arrive ready to slow down and enjoy this gift.
Donation based admission. Space can be limited. Pre-registration recommended
Do you sing in the shower, car, or kitchen? Then Flash Chorus is for you! Since 2015, people of all ages from all over the Triangle have been gathering at Durham’s Motorco Music Hall to make friends and learn pop songs with a live band. Join us on Monday, February 19, to learn and sing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and Generationals’ “When They Fight, They Fight.”
Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana brings the pride, power and passion of flamenco back to Durham with a dynamic cast of world-renowned dancers and musicians from Spain and the US. Experience the dazzling footwork, sensual lyricism and intricate rhythms of this critically-acclaimed company in an intimate tablao (cafe-style) setting.
You have to hear Cool John Ferguson to believe it. The legendary Taj Mahal had this praise for Cool John: “He is among the five greatest guitarists in the world — he ranks with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Wes Montgomery, and Django Reinhardt.”
Self-taught electric guitarist Cool John Ferguson was born in the Sea Islands of South Carolina, and his Gullah heritage and the gospel music of his upbringing inform his approach to the blues. A frequent performer at blues festivals around the world, Cool John was named “most outstanding guitarist” by Living Blues Magazine two years straight.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
directed by MICHAEL PERLMAN
6 ACTORS, 19 CHARACTERS, 80 MINUTES OF MAGIC
PlayMakers has cut the Bard’s most magical comedy to a fun and frenzied 80 minutes, so you can have your Shakespeare to go! Each of the ten tour stops is absolutely free to audience members. What are you waiting for?
Featuring Duke University Wind Symphony alumnus DeShaun Gordon-King (flute) and a world premiere by Duke graduate composer Yahn Wagner. The Duke University Wind Symphony is directed by Verena Mösenbichler-Bryant.
Often referred to as “The Hendrix of the Sahara”, Vieux Farka Touré is the son of legendary Malian guitar player Ali Farka Touré. Touré has worked with artists such as John Scofield, Dave Matthews and Soulive’s Eric Krasno and performed at the opening concert for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. With each new project, Vieux expands his horizons, embraces new challenges and further entrenches his reputation as one of the world’s most talented and innovative musicians.
“From album to album, Vieux Farka Touré is one of the most respected guitarists and musicians in the world.”
— ICI Musique, CBC
“This is the devotional, earthy soul of Mali, channeled through a six-string electric guitar.”
— Monolith Cocktail
Hailed by Rolling Stone as “a genre unto herself,” composer and guitarist Kaki King is a true iconoclast. Over the past 10 years the Brooklyn-based artist has released six extraordinarily diverse and distinctive albums, performed with such icons as Foo Fighters, Timbaland, and The Mountain Goats, contributed to a variety of film and TV soundtracks, and played to an increasingly fervent following of music lovers on innumerable world tours. She brings to The ArtsCenter her latest project, The Neck is a Bridge to the Body, a visionary multi-media synesthetic performance that uses projection mapping to reimagine the surface of her guitar as the stage for a luminous exploration of the mythology of the instrument.
“King’s latest project…accentuates the guitar as a shape-shifter, gliding across genres such as jazz, shoegazing, Latin roots, and heavy alternative rock across…a spectacle unlike any other.”