Mardi Gras is an age-old tradition that has become a cultural cornerstone in various places across the globe. From Brazil to France to Russia, this yearly celebration has developed unique customs depending on where you visit. But one thing remains consistent throughout these celebrations regardless of the location: an abundance of music, food and dancing.
New Orleans has established itself as the epicenter of annual Mardi Gras celebrations in the United States, and the rise of that tradition has sparked a style of music unlike anything else you’ll hear. Thankfully for those of us living in the throes of the northern tundra, the influence of that sound has had a long reach over the years, giving us the likes of Minneapolis-grown Southside Aces that will perform at Vieux Carré this Mardi Gras, Tuesday, March 5.
As a sextet formed by Tony Balluff and Erik Jacobson, Southside Aces kicked things off in Minneapolis in 2003, embracing the New Orleans sound with the style and charm that provides Minnesotans ready access to that authentic Mardi Gras flavor. Over the course of 15 years, the band has added their own twist to the Dixieland jazz sound made so popular throughout Louisiana.
Led by Jacobson’s lumbering sousaphone and Balluff’s charismatic clarinet – and filled out with support by Dave Michael on drums, Robert Bell on guitar, Eric Johnson on trombone and Dan Eikmeier on trumpet – the group’s cheery sound bounces from phrase to phrase, meandering to and from various jazz influences with a chipper ease.
Over the course of their five albums, Southside Aces have covered a lot of territory, from holiday songs to unique covers of pop artists like Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga. Listeners will surely hear glimpses of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, or even more obscure influences like AJ Piron and Tiny Parham – all wrangled up into one grand and celebratory Mardi Gras event. This is the time and place to experience a taste of New Orleans culture right here in your backyard.
Join Southside Aces and Vieux Carré this Mardi Gras on Tuesday, March 5, at 6:30pm for a 3-course dinner and show for $50-55 (tax and gratuity included).
Listen to Southside Aces talk about their Mardi Gras show in this KBEM interview.