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Various Artists
West Coast Mardi Gras Party
Globe Records

A few years back, the culture police created a stink over the traditional sounding music created by the gifted singer-songwriter Gillian Welch. Her crime? She was Los Angeles raised, not a product of the Southern mountains her critics believed was a requirement to produce such work. Odd, isn't it, the assumption of who is entitled to produce music? By the standard of the Welch critics, jazz would be limited to the Mississippi basin, blues to African-Americans, Western classical music to Vienna, and djembe drumming to West Africa. With a reasonable respect for the cultural origins of a genre, who's to say who gets to work within its ambit?

So here we arrive at the collection of West Coast Mardi Gras Party collection. That's Northern California for anyone who thinks Cajun, Zydeco, and Dixieland ought to be relegated to Highway 61 and the Louisiana south. Mardi Gras Party is a sampler, kicking off with the hot Zydeco Flames ("You Can Dance (All Night Long)"). One cut each from bands such as Gator Beat ("Mardi Gras Song"), Frog Legs ("Quelle Etolie"), Mumbo Gumbo ("Big Life"), S.E. Willis ("High Octane Gas"), and The Pulsators ("Back to Louisiana"). I tend to give high marks to any recording with packaging that's honest about the recordings. West Coast Mardi Gras Party is that and more and proves again how migrations of people and music enrich America. This warrants being recommended, whether for wake-up, party or energizing house-cleaning music. Let these folks show it off. You'll be pleased. - Richard Dorsett

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