A whole bunch of history and culture could possibly converge tonight at the Carnegie Music Hall in Homestead, and I’m happy to say I’ll be right there in the middle of it.
1. Today is Fat Tuesday, the final day before the start of Lent and a day reserved for excess of all kinds — which naturally makes it one of my favorite days of the year. Although there are Mardi Gras celebrations all over the world, in this country the grandaddy of all Mardi Gras parties is in New Orleans.
2. Early on the morning of Jan. 31, 1970, New Orleans police burst through the doors of the French Quarter hotel where members of the Grateful Dead were staying during a two-show run in town. To no one’s surprise, the police found *gasp* drugs in the band’s rooms and several members of band and its staff spent a long night working out bail arrangements so they could play later that evening. The bust turned out to be a centerpiece of “Truckin’,” the GD song released on American Beauty a few months later. Several lines from the song directly reference the bust:
Sittin’ and starin’ out of the hotel window.
Got a tip they’re gonna kick the door in again …
I’d like to get some sleep before I travel,
But if you got a warrant, I guess you’re gonna come in.
Busted, down on Bourbon Street;
Set up, like a bowling pin.
Knocked down, it gets to wearin’ thin.
They just won’t let you be, oh no.
Another line — “Houston, too close to New Orleans” — references the band’s alleged vow to never return to the city again.
3. They didn’t live up to that vow, though, playing three shows at the Saenger Performing Arts Center in 1980 and 1982 and another at Keifer Arena in 1988.
And that’s where tonight comes in. I’m seeing Dark Star Orchestra at Carnegie Music Hall, and I’m betting there’s a good chance we see a re-creation of one of those New Orleans set lists. DSO is a Grateful Dead cover band with a pretty cool shtick — they usually pick a show from at some point in the GD history and re-create it on stage, all the way down to personnel and song arrangements specific to that era. That means extra fun for the audience, which tries to guess the year — or for those who are really good, the specific show — we’re listening to.
I’m betting the folks in DSO won’t miss the fact that today is Mardi Gras, and that they’ll play us one of those New Orleans set lists tonight. I could be totally wrong about this, because there are, after all, about 2,300 shows to choose from, but c’mon — you’re playing a show on Mardi Gras. How could you not laissez les bon temps roulez?