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A grand gumbo of singing, chanting, intoxicating rhythms, and some deep funk grooves that are simply impossible to resist.
Cha Wa blends Mardi Gras Indian tradition and modern pop magic.
Cha-Wa delivered . . . the hypnotic, kinetic sound of New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian krewes. Cha-Wa, with bass lines played on sousaphone, plus a trumpet and two trombones, also bring the city’s brass band tradition to bear. Add sick jazz-funk guitar and two front men in full beaded holiday regalia, and the result was a portable Mardi Gras dance party.
From the funk-laced beats and bass-heavy sousaphone blasts that kick off their album Spyboy to the gritty warmth of singer J’Wan Boudreaux’s voice, New Orleans brass band–meets–Mardi Gras Indian outfit Cha Wa radiates the fiery energy of the best features of the city’s street culture.
Cha Wa’s debut, Funk ’N’ Feathers, explored contemporary riffs on the traditional music Boudreaux grew up singing alongside his grandfather, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, in the Golden Eagles Mardi Gras Indian tribe. Grammy-nominated album Spyboy ups the ante by digging deeper into the sound of New Orleans culture and giving it a modern twist. The album’s largely original material takes advantage of the band’s new horn section to highlight the musicians’ personal ties to the street music of their hometown. “We wanted to take the roots of what we love about New Orleans brass band music and Mardi Gras Indian music and then voice it in our own way,” says the group’s drummer and founder, Joe Gelini.
Dating back to the late 1800s, the Mardi Gras Indian tradition began when African American men first marched in Native American dress through the streets of New Orleans on Mardi Gras day. The tradition, which includes a host of songs shared among the various tribes, has been kept alive for over a century and today is as vital as ever. Mardi Gras Indians have influenced the biggest names in New Orleans music: the Meters, Dr. John, the Marsalis family, the Neville Brothers, Trombone Shorty, and others.