Every year on Mardi Gras, a group of Lawrence musicians bring a taste of the Big Easy.
Katie Euliss said the group — the result of a “call-out to musicians” — is in its fifth year of putting on a downtown Mardi Gras parade and has practiced together every Friday night at Euliss’ house for the last five weeks.
This year they plan to spread their raucous, colorful cheer beginning around noon, at 11th and Massachusetts streets, and then work their way down to Free State Brewery, 636 Mass., where, as band-member-wife Sarah Revell put it, “they just kind of take over.”
Euliss and her husband, Mike West, know the tradition — and New Orleans. They lived in the Lower Ninth Ward in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit. A married couple and a band — Truckstop Honeymoon — they moved to Lawrence shortly after. But the Fat Tuesday parade was one thing they missed.
“We didn’t want to give up the funkiness, the cool tradition,” she said. “It’s such a great thing to break up the monotony of winter, and it’s good to celebrate.”
The parade began with a few people, but as more local musicians heard the call it’s grown to as many as 30 people, even during last year’s pouring rain.
“It’s been fun to watch it grow — to get the Midwesterners out for something you usually don’t see this far north,” Euliss said.
Band member Colin Mahoney praised West’s “great, huge stage presence” during the parade as well as the loose-collective feel to the group as two things that made it fun.
“It’s cool that it’s totally impromptu and unsculpted,” he said with a smile. “It’s punk.”
West and Euliss said all are welcome to join in on Tuesday’s revelry, instrument (and perhaps even skill) or not. When asked the appeal of joining the group, Euliss is straight-forward.
“Who doesn’t want to be in a parade?” she said.
And one more thing, she said from her homey kitchen as the band loudly practiced on in the next room: “Costumes are encouraged.”