February 13th Mardi Gras – Fat Tuesday

Since Wednesday is Ash Wednesday that means today is Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. It is the day where we eat what we want, parade around in a costume to disguise who we are and be a little naughty before we fast and get ready for Easter.

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No place in the world celebrates Mardi Gras like New Orleans on Bourbon Street. Sometimes things get a bit out of control. Okay… all the time things get a lot out of control but it’s all in the name of fun. (Or at least it’s supposed to be) This year Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday fall on the same day… that ought to be confusing.

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Naturally masks and beads make up a good deal of Mardi Gras. I am not exactly sure why, maybe the mask so we can hide from others that we are over indulging. The beads have turned into something a lot more fun, if you are a guy. They originally were designed to be a favor given to females for doing another sort of favor. images (2)

It is really all about the food though. Generally hot and spicy. (But you can enjoy it any way you like it) It is all about enjoying yourself before the sacrifice you are supposed to make. In Pennsylvania, among the Dutch and German people, the holiday is known as Fastnacht Day. Same difference though not so many masks and beads. (After all it’s cold in Pennsylvania this time of year.)

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How to celebrate – Party!!! Try some new kind of food. Don’t forget the beads!!!

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May 27th International Jazz Day

Mainland Europe gave us Classical music, England gave us Rock & Roll but America gave the world jazz! Truly an American contribution, jazz is enjoyed world wide by nearly every age. it has influenced so many other styles of music, but also been influenced by many other forms of music.

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Born in New Orleans, La. in the 1800’s it is a mix of blues, Dixieland, soul and even classical music roots but also is an art form of it’s own. Whenever a style of music is not completely understood it seems to get placed in the jazz category. And while many individuals enjoy jazz it is a musicians choice of freedom from the boundaries placed on other forms of music.

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Artists such as Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and Chick Correa are headliners of the jazz field but thousands upon thousands have placed their own variations on the theme. Only the best of the best get a career in jazz, some of the best players in the world survive in small clubs creating their art so a non-mainstream audience.

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International Jazz Day was created by D. Michael Denny, on the board of directors of the New Jersey Jazz Society in 1991. It was also placed in the government by a statement that same year in the U.S. Congressional Record.

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How to celebrate – Find a jazz club and go hear some good music tonight. Buy a Cd of jazz and educate yourself to some of the best artists in that category. Visit New Orleans, home of jazz.

February 28th, 2017 Mardi Gras-Fat Tuesday

Fat Tuesday this year falls on February 28th, it varies every year pending on when Easter comes in the calendar. It is always the day before Ash Wednesday, when fasting is the tradition. It is the one day of the year where you can supposedly eat all you want of whatever you want. It is also known as Shrove Day and in predominantly German areas, such as Dutch Pennsylvania and well… Germany, it is know as Fastnacht Day.

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The most famous place to be for Mardi Gras is Bourbon Street in New Orleans and things always get a little wild there. They seem to take it beyond the eat whatever you want theme to do whatever you want.

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Somewhere along the line the idea of throwing beads to women was dreamed up. In theory, the idea is that men offer the women beads for doing something for the men. I think by now we all know what that “thing” is.

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Things get so wild in New Orleans that shop m owners, bar owners, and owners of any business on Bourbon Street, most of which have balconies that hang over the street held up by poles, put Vaseline all over the poles so people cannot climb up them. So apparently, Fat Tuesday has turned into Do Whatever You Want Tuesday. I can only assume that the costumes are done so no one knows who did what when Ash Wednesday comes.

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How to celebrate – Eat whatever you want today, and as much of it as you want to eat. Find a mask to cover up your face so no one knows who you are! Go to a pancake supper. Get beads. Get lots and lots of beads.

April Jazz Appreciation Month

April is Jazz Appreciation Month. “One of America’s original art forms.”  It began in New Orleans during the late 19th century primarily out of the African-American culture and has grown to many other aspects over the last one hundred plus years.  Jazz makes use of improvisation, poly rhythms, syncopation and swing.  The actually term “Jazz” was first used in 1916 with the American Dialect Society claiming it would be the “word of the twentieth century.”

There are many forms of jazz.  The first coming out of New Orleans somewhere around 1910.  This used French quadrilles, biguine, ragtime and blues as it’s foundation.  It was relatively quickly accepted, and then altered.  In the 1930’s Kansas City Jazz added swing to it’s formula and Gypsy Jazz used the waltz to it’s take. During the 1940’s, Bebop became popular as it was a style of jazz that felt good and could be danced to.  Cool jazz also made its debut in the 1940’s using linear melodic lines to calm things down a bit.

Free Jazz became popular in the 1950’s.  It featured no regular meter and perhaps began to get a little complicated for the average listener.  Hard Bop also came in the 1950’s using a mix of R&B, Gospel and the Blues.  The 50’s also introduced Modal Jazz, using musical scales as its foundation.

In the 1960’s-70’s, Jazz-Rock Fusion came on the scene, pretty self-explanitory.  It did have a major influence in the rock artists that developed over the decades.  By 1980, Smooth Jazz became the sexy, romantic version of all the above.  Now in the new millineum the trend seems to be to either Latin Jazz or Afro-Cuban Jazz.  It obviously mixes the latin beat and flair with all the technics of jazz aquired over the years.

So how to celebrate, well listen to some jazz of course… and if I might suggest a personal friend, Mickey Carroll is one of the best around.

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Tune your radio station in your car to a jazz station and get a different perspective of life, or go to a club and listen to some Smooth Jazz live.