Parades are called off this Mardi Gras season for our collective health and safety, but that hasn't stopped Krewe du Vieux from teaming up to boost the fundraising efforts initiated by the Krewe of Red Beans. A full 100 percent of the proceeds raised will go towards brass bands.
Krewe du Vieux (KdV), known for its salacious satire, takes this gap year to show the truly tantalizing thing about them: their huge hearts. In a normal year, the 17 sub-krewes that form KdV usually parade with 18 floats and 20 brass bands. On the GoFundMe page, organizer Yvonne Garret wrote, "We'll miss parading this year, but we'll miss our brass-band friends even more." Awww. That's the kind of quote that makes you feel cheery in this quiet Carnival season.
"Our goal is to at least raise what we would have paid the bands for the 2021 parade, and hopefully a lot more," Garret explained. The goal is set at $20,000. At the time of this article's publication, they have raised $2,640. The fundraiser has been going for 10 days now. If at all possible, consider putting on a record by a local artist and dropping a tip on the page. It's not the same as live music, but it will help to sustain the people who fill our city with sound.
After all, New Orleans wouldn't be complete without its brass bands. And yet, KdV's GoFundMe is notably categorized on the site as "Rent, Food, and Monthly Bills." That classification is brutally honest. Behind the feel-good story of a community banding together to crowdfund for musicians is the fact that they have to. The shutdowns have been going on for 10 months. After month five, the expanded unemployment benefits in the CARES Act dried up. New Orleans made progress in bringing down coronavirus infections. But even when the city reached Phase Three, singing and wind-blown instruments were prohibited indoors. The direct response for out-of-work-workers was labeled "stimulus," not "survival." That stimulus amount remained as empty as the music venues until December, when Congress finally approved sending out one $600 check.
Enter the Krewe of Red Beans, channeling their Mardi Gras energy towards helping local artists get paid. Their initiative to "Hire a Mardi Gras Artist" began hiring artists to transform people's houses into decorative displays. Each "House Float" creates about 15 jobs. Not content to stop there, the Krewe of Red Beans partnered with the Magazine Street Merchants Association to sell apparel and flags as part of the "Hire a Mardi Gras Artist" initiative. According to Offbeat: "Twenty-plus businesses on Magazine Street will participate, and the krewe hopes New Orleanians will join in to support small businesses along Magazine Street." Participating stores include the Audobon Zoo Gift Shop, Fleurty Girl, and Mignon Faget.
It is in that collectively striving spirit that Krewe du Vieux set up their fundraiser. Their GoFundMe ends on a note that reverberates: "Brass bands are the soundtrack of this city. From second lines to weddings, funerals, parades, games, clubs, parties, backyards, porches—hell, even brunch. Help us give back to the culture-bearers who give us so much."