The Wild Tchoupitoulas

Inside the National Recording Registry

Friday, November 15, 2013

If you've spent time in New Orleans – or watched the HBO show Tremé — you may know about one of the most idiosyncratic customs of that highly idiosyncratic town. The Mardi Gras Indians are African-American social clubs that take on the names of fictitious Indian tribes. They each have their own special expressions, rituals, and costumes: “lots of brightly colored feathers, sequins, and beaded suits,” describes Offbeat Magazine’s Jan Ramsey. It’s a tradition that dates back into the 19th century.

In 1976, a record came out that brought the music of the Mardi Gras Indians to a wider audience. The Wild Tchoupitoulas featured all four Neville Brothers and the Meters, an all-star New Orleans backing band. The album was chosen for the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry this year.

The Wild Tchoupitoulas were, for a time, led by George Landry, known as Chief Jolly — an uncle to the Neville brothers — and the album was made as a tribute. “He was, as far as I’m concerned, a giant,” remembers Cyril Neville, “and one of the people who put New Orleans culture on the map.”

    Music Playlist
  1. Brother John
    Artist: Wild Tchoupitoulas
    Album: Wild Tchoupitoulas
    Label: Fontana Island
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. Hey Hey (Indian Comin')
    Artist: Wild Tchoupitoulas
    Album: Wild Tchoupitoulas
    Label: Fontana Island
    Purchase: Amazon
  3. Hey Pocky A-Way (A Way)
    Artist: Wild Tchoupitoulas
    Album: Wild Tchoupitoulas
    Label: Fontana Island
    Purchase: Amazon
  4. Meet De Boys On The Battlefront
    Artist: Wild Tchoupitoulas
    Album: Wild Tchoupitoulas
    Label: Fontana Island
    Purchase: Amazon
  5. Indian Red
    Artist: Wild Tchoupitoulas
    Album: Wild Tchoupitoulas
    Label: Fontana Island
    Purchase: Amazon
  6. Hey Mama (Wild Tchoupitoulas)
    Artist: Wild Tchoupitoulas
    Album: Wild Tchoupitoulas
    Label: Fontana Island
    Purchase: Amazon

Guests:

Cyril Neville, Jan Ramsey and Big Queen Rita

Contributors:

Ben Manilla and Devon Strolovitch

Comments [1]

karen hemeon from Hull, MA

THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!

That record...yes, I still play it in vinyl....anachronistic me!..... may be my all time favorite. It started with Mai Cramer on 'GBH, (~76?)long before 'GBH acquired my standby fave WCRB, now GBH's classical arm. Long time love affair w/ Mardi Gras Indians, Big Chief Jolly, and the Nevilles. Sure, all my age cohort knew 'Tell it Like It Is,' with Aaron Neville doing the greatest falsetto recording EVAH...Aaron, with the cut off sleeves, because of his stevedore work + inability to fit anything over his arms, as well as the tatt of the dagger on his cheek (sometimes covered by makeup), but once I got into the Wild Tchoups, I was big hooked on Mardi Gras music. Off it branches to Prof Longhair, Buckwheat Z (Stanley Dural), Dr. John, Queen Ida, Cajun, Creole....OMG! This album was SEMINAL! And the whole rich history of NOLA can open with it. And continue on to NOLA fiction, rescue of Katrina dogs.....Thank you so much for this story about electing the album to the LOC recording registry. As a springboard to a culture, there's nothing like it! Thanks again. Off to meet de boys on the battlefront!

Nov. 16 2013 08:18 AM

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