If you've ever been there, you've felt it in your bones. The wrought iron balconies and verandas littered with ebullient day-drinkers, the music blasting from every third establishment's open doors, the French Quarter street musicians you happen upon randomly, and quickly realize are players of consummate skill, the brass bands gathered in Jackson Square, laying it down for tourist and townie alike – there simply is no greater music city than New Orleans.
Buffalo is not Louisiana, but we love to celebrate an ice-capped, frigid version of Mardi Gras every year, and we know our Cajun zydeco from our N'awlins jazz. This year is no exception, as a sizable list of Buffalo establishments are taking part in festivities that stretch from Fat Tuesday through the weekend and, in one case, beyond.
A few of the marquee events are at the Sportsmen's Tavern (326 Amherst St.), among them a few concerts that arrive via the Big Easy in Buffalo, a program of Arts Services Initiative of WNY that brings New Orleans and Louisiana music and culture here. Zydeco master CJ Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band perform with Buffalo's the Twang Gang at 6 p.m. Feb. 13 ($12/$15, Showclix.com). The Big Easy folks circle back for a matinee show at 1 p.m. Feb. 25 with Cajun classicists Kevin Naquin & The Ossun Playboys ($10 at the door).
Thin Man Brewery (492 Elmwood Ave.) is kicking off Fat Tuesday with its own selection of new Orleans-centric food at 3 p.m. Feb. 13. At 5 p.m., Buffalo's Black Rock Zydeco will kick off the first of several sets slated throughout the evening.
Mohawk Place hosts its first Fat Tuesday celebration in more than a decade, starting at 6 p.m. A legit Cajun-style buffet, New Orleans-themed drink specials, and a bill that includes sets from Pine Fever, Deadwolf, Soul Butchers, the Buffalo Brass Machine and A Dreamer Solutions, is all covered by $10 at the door.
Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar (253 Allen St.) is hosting a Fat Tuesday dance party, and splitting the difference between live bands and sets from DJs well-schooled in Louisiana funk. PA Line will perform, DJ Scotty Down will spin a set of music he's calling "New Orleans Funkadelic" and DJs Charlie the Butcher and Charles Masters will take a turn at the wheels of steel.
The Irving Klaws and the Stripteasers will join forces at 9 p.m. Feb. 13 at Nietzsche's (248 Allen St.) as part of an Allentown-centered Fat Tuesday event. A host of clubs will offer music and drink specials, available to all who purchase the $5 wristband that acts as an access pass to all participating venues while simultaneously raising money for Autism Services of WNY.
You can grab a wristband at any of the participating venues, among them Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar (DBGB), Exchange on Allen, Allen Street Hardware Café, The Old Pink, Savoy, Gypsy Parlor, GBGB (Gypsy Bohemian Grove Bar in Expo Market), Ulrich's 1868 Tavern, Cathode Ray, Nietzsche's, Billy Club, Alley Cat, Cantina Loco, ABV, Frizzy's, Gabriel's Gate, Colter Bay, Fat Bob's, Fugazi, Don Tequila, Giacobbi's and Cafe 59. Activities kick off at 5 p.m.