By Valerie Milano
Los Angeles, CA (Hollywood Today) 1/25/14 – “I am happy to be here in Los Angeles celebrating the State of Louisiana’s 12 Grammy Nominations.” Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne (pronounced DAR DEN) said to Hollywood Today at LA Live Courtyard as he, and others from the State of Louisiana tourist board, gathered to walk with “The Wild Magnolias” as they performed some great Mardi Gras music in preparation for their annual “Only in Louisiana” brunch being held tomorrow afternoon at the Conga Room at LA Live, and HT will be covering this as well. The Wild Magnolias are a funk band from New Orleans, Louisiana, that participate in the local “Indian Masking” traditions and perform Mardi Gras music. Mardi Gras Indians are actually African-American performers in New Orleans, who dress up for Mardi Gras in suits influenced by Native American ceremonial apparel. They were dressed today in blue, yellow and purple and white. The three band members are: Theodore “Bo” Dollis (vocals); Norwood Johnson (percussion) and Gerald “Little Bo” Dollis (vocals). Bo even wore a ceremonial head-dress of blue feathers and had no trouble walking and playing his tambourine, they all were having such a great time. You can find a great deal of interesting history about the band, plus singles they have released, albums, and even international albums, which can be found at wildmagnolias.net.
I had the opportunity to talk with Leanne Weill, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Louisiana Office of Tourism, Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism from Baton Rouge, LA. She was very impressed that I was wearing a strand of my very own Mardi Gras beads and she reached into a bag that she was carrying and pulled out a set of beads for me to wear, gold in color, with a round disk that read “LOUISIANA Pick your Passion” LouisianaTravel.com. The party had begun.
She introduced me to Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne and he too was impressed I came with Mardi Gras beads. He was really enjoying himself and he said the weather was a nice change from Baton Rouge. We discussed the Grammy’s and said that his State of Louisiana has had nominations every year since the Grammy’s started other than 1960 and 1970. He was not sure why those two years of those decades did not get a nomination. Dardenne was very comfortable walking the street between Staples Center and LA Live while The Wild Magnolias played on. He took time to talk with people that approached him and posed with them for pictures. I asked him about New Orleans and how the city was doing these days and he said “New Orleans is doing well, actually, there are many young folks moving to the city and finding jobs and making a life for them self. We have come a long way since Katrina and I see us moving forward in the future” This put a smile on his face and he said that there has also been a rise in tourism since Katrina and New Orleans is a great vibrant city to visit and have a great time. “Our unique and authentic culture is celebrated throughout the world, so pick your passion and make Louisiana your favorite vacation adventure.” We also discussed the annual “Only in Louisiana” brunch coming up the next day (1/25/14) and he commented how the music was going to be excellent with Hot 8 Brass Bank, Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience and the King of Zydeco himself, Clifton Chenier. Dardenne said that Chenier was the founding father of Zydeco music, which consists of an accordion, fiddle and vest frottior (washboard). I was told that Zydeco stands for string bean. Chenier will be the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammy’s. Dardenne commented that we all are in-store for a great afternoon of Creole and Cajun music and great Louisiana food. He spoke a little about Hunter Hayes and that fact that Hunter has been playing since he was five and that Hunter’s Father manages her career and how proud he was that Hunter has not lost his way, like some other young singers have done. He told me a story of how Tim McGraw’s real name was Timmy Smith, and when Tim was 11, he found out that Tug McGraw was his father, so at age 18 he changed his name to Tim McGraw.
Dardenne said he would be running for Governor in 2015.