It’s Mardi Gras season and in North America, no celebration is more famous than the one put on by the people of New Orleans. For two weeks, local groups called Krewes organize balls, parades and dance parties. Colorful plastic beads are everywhere.
A few years ago, a new krewe sprung up with the aim of celebrating the Haitian roots that run deep through the city’s cultural identity. Krewe Du Kanaval was co-founded by Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, best known as the husband-and-wife duo who front the Grammy award-winning rock band, Arcade Fire. These days, the Canadian musicians are residents of New Orleans and good friends with Ben Jaffe of the storied Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Butler says the idea to start the Krewe stemmed from a trip he took with Jaffe to Haiti. It was Jaffe’s first time in the country.
“I remember when we first got to the central plateau [of Haiti],” Butler said. “There was a brass band that played for us when we got there. Ben’s almost crying. It sounded like if you got in a time machine and went to New Orleans — pre-swing, pre-jazz New Orleans — and it’s pretty powerful.” Continue reading