GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - With New Orleans quiet and parades canceled across the Southeast, it was a historic Fat Tuesday. One South Mississippi band, however, did all they could to let the good times roll, making the day memorable for people across the Coast.
The Blackwater Brass Band hosted the first-ever Buskin’ Across the Coast, appearing at multiple locations throughout the day from Ocean Springs to Bay St. Louis.
There may not have been parades to celebrate carnival this year but that doesn’t mean the music had to stop. And as everyone in the South knows, music and Mardi Gras go hand in hand. It’s an energy and atmosphere that people look forward to every year.
That’s exactly why the Blackwater Brass Band wanted to help keep the spirit alive for as many people as they could.
“Keeping the spirit alive is very, very important and I think the success for me will just be in knowing on the very last drumbeat, when the last horn is tooted, we went and brought a little bit of Mardi Gras to all those who really might not have had a chance to listen to a second line this year,” said the band’s trombone player Elmer “Mondo” Belmonte last month when they first announced Buskin’ the Coast.
And for those diehard Mardi Gras revelers, it helped.
”Right now, we should be getting ready to line up for the parade,” said Krewe of Gemini Ball Captain Shellie Moses. “We usually close down Fat Tuesday with the Gemini parade, which we are unable to do this year. But being able to come out and support this community and the businesses downtown is always a great time.”
The band second lined across South Mississippi, bringing the party to patrons at different establishments.
”It’s very fulfilling. It is very wonderful to know that people will still want to come together in any aspect they can and want to celebrate and have a great time on a Mardi Gras holiday,” said Belmonte following one of the band’s Fat Tuesday shows.
”Mardi Gras is a lot of fun,” said Krewe of Gemini President Chase Moses. “The businesses in downtown Gulfport and other cities do very well during Mardi Gras. They have a lot of people coming in. With them not having any business during Mardi Gras, this is nice to be able to have a little something.”
Perhaps more importantly, though, it gave people the chance to enjoy a holiday that is ingrained into the culture of the Gulf Coast.
”We keep saying, you can cancel the parades but you can’t cancel the spirit of Mardi Gras. So in the beer and the music, we are trying to keep some of that spirit alive,” said Chandeleur Brewing Sales Manager Gina Prater.
You can follow Blackwater Brass on Facebook to learn more about upcoming shows.