New Orleans may hold the title of America’s Mardi Gras Headquarters, but another city in recent years has something else to say on the subject. Las Vegas, no stranger to a good party any time of year, and specifically the Las Vegas Jam Band Society have invited up Southern California world funketeers Delta Nove every February since 2007 to celebrate the coming Fat Tuesday. Three years ago the Society combined their party with the conveniently-timed anniversary throwdown of another non-profit arts collective, the Network of Immersive Sensory Entertainment, (A.K.A. Project N.O.I.S.E.,). The collaborative event attracts larger and larger crowds each year, and 2010’s party was no exception. Hundreds packed the Aruba hotel for an aural and visual extravaganza punctuated by Delta Nove’s global rhythms.
Before the headliners took the stage, a gaggle of opening acts spread throughout the Aruba Hotel’s ground floor greeted eager on-lookers. While indie rappers kept the Thunderbird Lounge jumping off, Shufflefoot entertained in the hotel’s café with an acoustic mix of sea shanties and folk covers nuanced by cello, washboard and upright bass. Traditional canvas artists mixed with the more experimental body painters and 3-D blacklight muralists that complemented the psychedelic sounds of The High Rollerz. A power trio of Cream ilk, the group showed deep reverence to the blues along with an adventurous take on the Grateful Dead’s “Eyes of the World.” By completely dissecting the song’s open-ended sections, the Rollerz took “Eyes” into exciting new places in defiance of their stripped-down format.
Along with beads and masks the capacity crowd brought their dancing shoes, and Delta Nove put them to good use immediately with upbeat anthems “Move in on Up” and “Hot Grits.” The band brought some extra power to the party, toting a percussionist and second horn along with their core four-piece line-up, adding depth to more basic second line Mardi Gras numbers like “62nd Place“. “Imaginary Conversations” might be the best choice for the group’s first national single, with Viking’s [Author’s note: the bassist goes by Viking on all press materials] thumping escalating bass line holding down one of the band’s tightest melodic and lyric arrangements. Nodding to their interest in Brazilian sambas, several songs feature Spanish or Portuguese lyrics, or in the case of “Nogo” vocalist/guitarist/ukulele player Bobby Easton uses an urban patois that while English sounds simultaneously Brazilian and So Cal. “Requebra” closed the first set with a patented Delta Nove percussion jam – where each band member drops their instrument for whichever drum, timbale or shaker is closest for a dramatic pounding crescendo.
The second half of the night’s festivities opened with more New Orleans funk in the form of “2nd Line”, but also dove into more soulful grooves like “Candy Store,” “Guinea Bissau” and “Tororo”, all lead on sax/flute/clarinet by Rob Covacevich. Adding a touch of shuffling reggae late in the evening with “Samambaia” might have come a little too late for the gassed masses, but another percussion jam out of “Bloco Nove” ended the show on the same high note it started with hours earlier.
Amid the myriad of musical and visual artists in attendance was an exciting new multimedia concept, as a group of video artists had pro-shot DVD’s of Delta Nove’s performance ready for purchase immediately after each set – the perfect souvenir for another triumphant Fat Tuesday celebration for Project N.O.I.S.E. and the Las Vegas Jam Band Society. Mardi Gras may come but once a year, but lucky for Las Vegas they have two successful arts organizations committed to ensuring the party never stops.