There will be more New Orleans in Huntsville soon, at least temporarily.
In 2014, Huntsville began hosting a Mardi Gras parade each year. Although the concept felt somewhat parachuted-in for the Rocket City, each year since thousands of locals enjoyed the floats and partying. The parade also raises funds for Blount Hospitality House, which provides lodging and supportive companionship for out-of-town relatives of patients in Huntsville area hospital. Bars and restaurants along the parade’s downtown route get a nice bump in business those days, too.
This year, a new free event, called Mardi Gras at MidCity, held the same day as Huntsville’s parade, Feb. 22, brings legit music, food and culture to the mix.
The music headliner features New Orleans music royalty. Ivan Neville’s funk band Dumpstaphunk is a fixture of the local music scene/festivals there and performs the kind of jubilant, agile R&B Neville’s dad and uncles’ bands The Meters and Neville Brothers invented. Dumpstaphunk’s songs include “Justice,” a 2017 Trombone Shorty collabo. Neville is also a member of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards’ solo band, X-Pensive Winos.
Truckloads of New Orleans crawfish, po-boys, Pat O’Briens Hurricanes, Manny Randazzo King Cakes, etc. are being brought in for MidCity’s event, centered around charming intimate outdoor venue The Camp, address 5909 University Drive.
Food and beverage prices will range from $5 – $15.
A group of four Mardi Gras Indians, known for their flamboyant regalia and dancing, and a brass band will lead a second-line parade to kick things off, around 1 p.m. The second-line begins and ends at The Camp, located at the former Madison Square Mall site.
Live music onstage starts at 3 p.m. with a set from Huntsville funk combo The Quantaphonics. The lineup also boasts promising locals Lamont Landers Band (5 p.m.) and New Orleans group Flow Tribe (7 p.m.). Dumpstaphunk’s set begins at 9 p.m. and will be punctuated with fireworks around 10:30 or 11 p.m.
So why is MidCity jumping on the Huntsville Mardi Gras bandwagon? Max Grelier and Remy Gross, co-founders of MidCity developed RCP Companies, were roommates at New Orleans’ Loyola University. Both men have family roots down there too.
“Max and Remy have a deep love for New Orleans culture having both spent portions of their lives there,” says RCP project coordinator Nadia Niakossary. “Max says he wants to make the Mardi Gras event one of MidCity’s larger annual programs, incorporating authentic elements and bringing New Orleans culture to North Alabama.”