Get Your Sh*t Together, You’re Going to Mardi Gras!
A Bonnaroo Guide to Mardi Gras
By Paul Peck (@paulnpeck)
When it comes to New Orleans my advice is to go. Now. Mardi Gras basically starts today. Put this article down, start packing, and read the rest on your way.
New Orleans isn’t the kind of town where you stick to a structured itinerary. A rough framework is best. This is our road map to keep you seeing cool shit, hanging with good people, eating great food and having fun. So grab an Amber for the road and get going.
But first hit play on Bonnaroo’s Official New Orleans Mixtape…
DON’T TRY TO DO EVERYTHING! And if you’re somewhere that you can’t tear yourself away from, stay there and enjoy. Don’t be afraid of making a game-time decision that strays from the initial plan.
View Top NOLA Spots in a larger map
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7TH
Bonnaroo Gameplan: Muses Parade > Vaughan’s for Kermit Ruffins & the BBQ Swingers.
6:30PM – Muses Parade – Uptown
*** Suggested watching spot: St. Charles at 3rd St.
Great starting point for some quality parading. Have some libations on hand and try to catch some weird stuff that’s thrown at you. The most elusive ‘throw’ at Muses is a handmade ‘Shoe’ designed by the riders. A keepsake for life!
Note on Mardi Gras Parading: A sick costume will come in handy at Mardi Gras (and is essential for Fat Tuesday which is Mardi Gras day). Make sure it’s fun, funky and comfortable.
8PM – Tornado Brass Band – Preservation Hall
Traditional NOLA Jazz. Be forewarned: They don’t serve drinks here but its ok to duck and come right back. Hang at Pres Hall and then eat at Coop’s (good late night grub) or grab oysters at Felix’s around the corner which is open late.
9:30PM – Kermit Ruffins – Vaughn’s
It’s a bit of a trek but worth it. Kermit was one of the founders of Rebirth Brass Band. His trumpet playing and sweet sangin’ is NOLA through and through!
10:30PM – The Trio feat. Johnny Vidacovich & George Porter, Jr. – The Maple Leaf
The Maple Leaf is one of the best music spots in NOLA but it’s way Uptown so plan accordingly. Right next to Jacques-Imo’s Café if you’re hungry.
Johnny V stands out in a city of remarkable drummers. He was Stanton Moore’s drum teacher and a founding member of Astral Project. At this gig, he’ll be getting funky with the legendary George Porter of The Meters.
Modern rock band with New Orleans flair. Galactic’s Ben Ellman produced their debut album.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8TH
Bonnaroo Gameplan: Dinner at Dick and Jenny’s > The Funky Meters
Like his cousins Troy ‘Trombone Shorty” Andrews and James Andrews, GDA is a great horn player, vocalist, and songwriter. His variety of influences and dramatic performances make for a fascinating live show.
In the mood for a crazy rock show? This’ll be outta control. Plus, the club is one of the sweetest little spots in town and in a prime French Quarter location.
Tips is the signature New Orleans music club. George Porter and Art Neville’s funky Meters will rip through a long set of funk and soul classics likely with some fun covers sprinkled in.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9TH
If you got a MOMS Ball invite, this night becomes infinitely more complicated but also completely unforgettable.
10:30PM – Rebirth Brass Band & Papa Grows Funk - Howlin Wolf
Organist John Gros’ allstar band with Japanese guitar ace June Yamagishi, Russell Battiste and bassist Marc Pero.
Bounce around Frenchman St between DBA and the Blue Nile. Most NOLA spots allow re-entry and there’s good hanging and people meeting to be had on Frenchman.
11:30PM – Big Chief Monk Bourdreaux and Bo Dollis Jr with Big Sam – Blue Nile
Monk with Big Sam’s Funky Nation. Don’t miss this one.
LATE – DJ Soul Sister – Mimi’s in the Bywater
NOLA’s best late night dance party.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 10TH
10PM – Trombone Shorty – Tipitina’s Uptown
Troy probably doesn’t hit til around 11. We strongly advise that you catch Shorty while down for Mardi Gras.
10PM – Dumpstaphunk - Howlin’ Wolf
Probably the funkiest band on the planet (we’re working to accumulate supporting scientific data).
10:30PM – Big Chief Monk with Papa Grows Funk – DBA
11PM – Red Baraat - Blue Nile
This will be fun for sure. If you’re down on Frenchman for this night, it’s definitely not a bad thing (to be fair its actually a great thing).
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11TH (LUNDI GRAS)
Bonnaroo Gameplan: Watch Orpheus from St. Charles at 3rd St > Galactic at Tipitinas
6PM – Orpheus – Uptown (St. Charles at 3rd St)
11PM – Galactic Lundi Gras Celebration with Red Baraat – Tipitina’s
Advanced technique: It’s a GREAT idea to go home at 5am and get a little sleep before Fat Tuesday. It’s gonna be a big day.
FAT F*CKING TUESDAY (you better have a sick costume already, maybe I shoulda mentioned that earlier)
First of all, HAPPY MARDI GRAS!! You did it! Whew. Shit’s been crazy and about to get markedly crazier. It’ll get weirder before it starts getting normaler again.
Hop on JewLu parade uptown (meet at the Bridge Lounge at noon) and follow a brass band all the way downtown with drinkin’ pit stops along the way. You can also hit St. Ann’s Parade since they meet up together anyway outside One Eyed Jacks usually around 1pm. Do one of these.
For the truly ambitious I suggest checking out 2nd and Dryades around 10am and be part of the Mardi Gras Indian tradition.
That’s it. Go get at it! This is America.
IF POSSIBLE BRING A BIKE – They make traversing the city much easier. Rent one in the French quarter.
COMFORTABLE SHOES: You never know when you will need to sprint to catch a passing float.
BATHROOMS: Do not pee in public. Spending the weekend in OPP is the ultimate fail.
SECOND LINES: Check WWOZ (90.7FM) Takin’ it to the Streets web page to find where they are and wear your dancing shoes!
BOUNCE: The uniquely New Orleans music of today! Here’s some opportunities to see it in action…
St Roch Saturday night for endless ass shaking.
Official Bonnaroo Good Eatin’
Po-Boy 101: Asked for ‘dressed’ if you want lettuce, tomato and mayo.
Mahoney’s: Features Ivan Nevile’s favorite sandwich the hot sausage po boy, they also got a fried green tomatoes and shrimp remoulade poboy
Domillise’s: Wash down a “Half n Half” (oyster & shrimper) with an ice cold Barq’s in a bottle.
Crabby Jack’s: Jacquesimos’ po-boy spot has a roast duck po-boy, amazing seafood, roast beef and a delicious grilled fish lunch.
Guy’s: It’s not on the menu but you can ask for Stanton Moore’s signature “The Bomb” which is grilled shrimp, catfish and melted cheese
Late Night Grub:
Coops: Great New Orleans bar food in the French quarter and open late. Fried Chicken, Jumbalaya and duck quesadillas.
Felix’s in the French Quarter: Chargrilled, raw and fried oysters. Also, crab fingers.
Sit Down Eatin’:
Jacques Imo’s Café: You may have to wait but the food’s amazing and it’s right next to The Maple Leaf which is a great 1-2 combo. You can make a meal out of the apps alone which are incredible particularly shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake which is nothing like it sounds, and eggplant Jacques.
Café Atchafalaya: Amazing food and brunch is outta control with music and make your own bloody mary bar.
Dick and Jenny’s: Right near Tips. No resies so get ready to have a drink while you wait.
Elizabeth’s: Classic southern soul food with an amazing brunch that features praline bacon which is every bit as great as it sounds.
Got a private party or a tip we missed? Let your fellow Bonnaroovians know in the comments below!