In Conversation with KREWE LIVERPOOL
Written by Toby Taylor on 11th September 2019
On February 7th 2020, Sefton Park’s iconic Palm House will be transformed into a surrealist masquerade ball, celebrating the traditions of New Orleans music. Headlined by one-of-a-kind live act Frog & Henry, Krewe Liverpool 2020 – The Mardi Gras Experience promises to be one of the most unmissable events the city has borne witness to in recent years. Melodic Distraction sat down with Krewe Liverpool co-founders Laura Brownhill (co-founder of The Kazimier) & Dave McTague (Mellowtone), to get a behind the scenes look at what carnival-goers can expect, and the reasons why February can’t come soon enough…
The Mardi Gras Experience will be a truly immersive experience, bringing “city wide collaboration through the arts, and acting as a point of social cohesion for everyone to be involved and experiencing all the different aspects of the city’s vibrant cultural scene” Laura explains. It aims to unite many of the city’s arts, dance and musical groups in creative collaboration within the framework of New Orleans parades and balls, celebrating its authentic genre of music.
Whilst inspired by those from New Orleans, the GALA organisers were keen to place local arts and culture at the forefront of the Experience. “We felt it was really important to remain authentic to our own local scene here in Liverpool” stresses Dave, “it offers an opportunity to bring different arts organisations together.” The result therefore is a unique, and distinctly Liverpudlian, take on the Mardi Gras Experience.
Central to this, is the inclusion of “Krewes” – which are, as Laura was keen to expound, “social organisations which create themes and carnival floats that are unique and based on their own thematic backgrounds.” Drawn from disparate parts of Liverpool’s arts and culture scene, the Krewes are based on existing arts organisations and groups in the city. And, in a Liverpool exclusive, Melodic Distraction is proud to announce the Liverpool “Krewes” who will be taking part in the Mardi Gras Experience…
Crucially, these Krewes are inclusive – which means that anyone, (yes anyone – even you!) can join. “There are a variety of different ways you can participate,” an excitable Dave told us, “the audience can affiliate with a “Krewe”, create their own “Krewe” and come with their friends & own message, or just dress up! We’re encouraging people to creatively express themselves in their costumes and/or masks and to create or make your own costume, especially if it’s repurposed, recycled, upcycled, reused or recreate! There’s a real emphasis on ethical fashion!”
In this regard, the selection of the Palm House has looked to be an inspired decision. The experience will seek to use the space in its entirety, with its beautiful 360 ° environment perfect for fostering a unique carnival atmosphere and its big dance floor set to be the stage for a mini procession. “We didn’t really consider anywhere else,” admits Dave, “the unique backdrop and the grandeur of the venue will lends itself to the Krewes and audiences’ costume spectacle and masquerade ball.”
Alongside this engrossing experience, Krewe Liverpool’s show-stopping musical programme is also sure to set pulses racing. Headlining the night are multi-instrumentalist group Frog & Henry – whose music Dave succinctly describes as “dance music – but dance music that’s 100 years old from New Orleans played on brass and string instruments!” The band are truly an unmissable live experience in every sense of the word. Not only does every Kinstrumentalist play at least two different instruments, but the band are also in possession of the only working examples of a foot operated tuba machine (an instrument that allows the player to play both the tuba and the banjo simultaneously)! The sheer skill and level of musicianship is a sight to behold, and against the elegant and sophisticated backdrop of the Palm House, their live set is most definitely one of a kind and will surely live long in the memory after the event itself. The rest of the night, led by Master of Ceremonies and certified Scouse legend Laird Howard Ashely Storey, will be a broader exploration of the music of the era – from the dawn of recorded music to Dixieland, ragtime and string & brass.
This is shaping up to be one of the most exciting events Liverpool has seen in a long time. After all, how many other events offer up such a multi-faceted cultural experience, backed by a myriad of different ways to participate? (answer – not many, if any at all!) Grab your tickets whilst you still can!