Durham Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday @ Motorco
Feb 13 @ 7:30 pm – 11:00 pm

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 []

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.

Hairizon’s Annual Girl’s Night Inn @ Hairizon Beauty
Mar 2 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Join us for The Annual Hairizon’s Girl’s Night Inn. An evening of fun, shopping, food and music with the Triangle’s premier vendors. Invite your girlfriends and join us for a night full of self love and beauty.

NC State College of Veterinary Medicine Open House @ NC State College of Veterinary Medicine
Mar 24 all-day

Visit the NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine for a day with animal friends. The public is invited to go behind the scenes at one of the nation’s top veterinary programs. Tour the Veterinary Hospital and the classrooms and laboratories in the CVM. There are attractions and numerous activities throughout campus. As always, the day includes interesting demonstrations, fun and informative displays explaining advances in the science of veterinary medicine; presentations on pet health; an opportunity to talk with faculty, staff, and students; and a chance to get up close with animals. (Please leave pets at home).

Piedmont Earthskills Gathering @ Shakori Hills
Apr 4 – Apr 8 all-day

Piedmont Earthskills Gathering
April 4-8, 2018 at Shakori Hills in Pittsboro, NC

The Gathering will be a 5 day and 4-night event that offers in-depth learning for individuals and families. This educational/enrichment program will be focused on Primitive Living Skills and Homesteading. Top quality instructors will teach dozens of ancestral and heritage primitive skills such as matchless fire making, edible and medicinal plants, stone tool creation and use, ancient weaponry and basket making, just to name a few.

Earthskills gatherings are events where new friendships are forged, old friendships refined, and the empowering knowledge of pioneer, survival, native and traditional primitive skills are shared. These programs give participants the opportunity to become proficient in skills that have helped them redefine life goals and directions as well as broaden their knowledge of sustainable life ways, connection to nature, and the power of community. After a full day of hands-on instruction, evening programs give us the opportunity to join in the revival of the great oral tradition of storytelling around the council fire, or the option to pull up a chair at any one of the camps where homegrown and traditional Appalachian music is played, or the opportunity to answer the call of the drum and dance around the fire under a star-filled sky.

Southern Women’s Show @ NC State Fairgrounds
Apr 13 – Apr 15 all-day

The Southern Women’s Show is celebrating 33 years in the Triangle! This year’s show will be held April 13-15 at the NC State Fairgrounds with celebrity guests, fashion shows, shopping, workshops, food and more.

JUST TRYAN IT Kids Triathlon @ Chapel Hill Country Club
Apr 29 @ 9:00 am

Swim, bike, and run for a great cause. This kids triathlon benefits families fighting childhood cancer at Duke Children’s and UNC Children’s Hospital. April 29th at the Chapel Hill Country Club, for all ability levels, ages 6-14. JUST TRYAN IT helps families in need while instilling a sense of philanthropy and service in children, fostering empathy and empowering them to make a difference. For more information, visit our website. REGISTER TODAY!

Out! Raleigh 2018 @ Raleigh City Plaza
May 5 @ 11:00 am – 6:00 pm

The eighth annual Out! Raleigh festival will take place on Saturday May 5th, 2018 at Raleigh’s City Plaza on Fayetteville Street. This inclusive and action-packed event is family-friendly with activities for all ages. Out! Raleigh is an important way to raise the necessary funds to support the LGBT Center of Raleigh and all of its 28+ programs. In 2016, more than 51,000 people poured into Raleigh’s City Plaza to celebrate the LGBT community with our allies, friends and families.

Running from 11:00am to 6:00pm, the event offers live entertainment, local vendors, independent artists, great food, a KidsZone and a beer garden. Best of all, there is no admission fee!

In the last eight years, Out! Raleigh has become a vital part of Raleigh’s downtown culture, promoting diversity awareness as well as a sense of inclusivity for the LGBT community and its allies both inside and outside of the Triangle. Each year has been more successful than the last and this year will be no exception!

We look forward to seeing you there!

Want to help?

Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter at @outraleigh for updates, information on volunteering and photos from past events. You can also visit us at for updates, information on volunteering and sponsorship opportunities.