Laissez les bons temps rouler: Mardi Gras at the Falcon

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As a subspecies of agnostic whom you might call an apathist, I will not even pretend to understand the theological dynamics of Fat Tuesday into Ash Wednesday except to note that it seems to conform to the family of binge/purge phenomena. Then there’s the related-but-confusing term Shrove Tuesday, which means “confession Tuesday,” and thus seems to be about accumulating some juicy stories to ’fess up during the long dull patch of Lent.

My grasp is weak, but it doesn’t take a sharp cultural eye to see that the metaphorical Tuesday is spreading across our calendars and its payback Wednesday receding, leading to a dangerously protracted binge phase and a forestalled purge: a big IOU of sorts. You merely have to look at the February music schedule at the Falcon to see this in action.

As a legit jazz club with natural interests in world music, roots music, the blues spectrum and all kinds of fusions, Mardi Gras is like Christmas at the Falcon: It’s that big, that central to the club’s identity. Musicians revere few places as they do New Orleans, and all the food metaphors for its music – the gumbos, jambalayas, étouffées of Dixieland, second line, blues, the Cuban contradanza, zydeco, Cajun and Creole – emphasize the fusion and spicy intermingling of cultures and traditions. It is not that big a stretch to say that the many musical faces of Mardi Gras are celebrated at the Falcon 365 days a year. (The purge part has been moved offsite.)

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The proper recognition of Mardi Gras at the Falcon begins with a zydeco performance by Jeffrey Broussard and the Creole Cowboys. The Lafayette, Louisiana native Broussard was born into a family of Creole performers. His father fronted the band Delton Broussard & the Lawtell Playboys, and his brother Clinton Broussard & the Zydeco Machines, in which Jeffrey got his start as an accordionist. Broussard performs on Sunday, February 15 at 7 p.m.

On the very next day, make room for the prince – of zydeco, that is: C. J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band take over the Falcon on Monday, February 16 at 7 p.m. Chenier is the son of the “King of Zydeco,” Clifton Chenier: the Paul Simon collaborator and the first Creole musician to win a Grammy Award. When the elder Chenier died in 1989, C. J. Chenier, already part of the famous Red Hot Louisiana Band, shouldered the accordion and followed in his father’s footsteps.

Fat Tuesday itself will be celebrated at the Falcon at 7 p.m. with the Michael Torsone Dixieland Quintet. Keyboardist and vocalist Torsone specializes in the gutsy tones of the Hammond organ and is a favorite at the Falcon (where the house Hammond has opened the door to a few legendary B3 duets, because Torsone travels with his own monogrammed Hammond). For this themed show, Torsone has assembled a quintet of organ, drums, clarinet, trumpet and trombone to pay tribute to the birthplace of jazz.

The Falcon then encourages, or at least allows, a week of for purging before a return visit by the wildly popular Cajun group Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys on Thursday, February 26 at 7 p.m. Per usual at the Falcon, there is no cover charge for any of these shows, but generous donation is encouraged. The Falcon is located at 1348 Route 9W in Marlboro. For more information, call (845) 236-7970 or visit www.liveatthefalcon.com.

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