The Wild Magnolias

Sample this concert
  1. 1Handa Wanda / Smoke My Peace Pipe (Smoke it Right)20:22
Liner Notes

Theodore Ernie "Bo" Dollis - vocals, percussion; Joseph Pierre "Monk" Boudreaux - vocals, percussion; "Gator June" Johnson, Jr. - vocals, percussion; "Crip" Adams - vocals, percussion; "Gate" Johnson - vocals, percussion; "Bubba" Scott - vocals, percussion; James "Smokey" Smothers - vocals, percussion; Willie Tee - keyboards; Julius Farmer - bass; Snooks Eaglin - guitar; Larry Banna - drums; Alfred "Uganda" Roberts - conga

In the Spring of 1974, The Wild Magnolias, one of several secret Mardi Gras Indian tribes in the City of New Orleans, emerged with their acclaimed self-titled debut recording on the Polydor label. Newport Jazz Festival promoter George Wein quickly snapped up the group for that summer's festival, showcasing them in concert at Fordham University. Led by Big Chief Bo Dollis and featuring a crew of Monk Boudreaux, Norwood "Gitchie" Johnson, "Gator June" Johnson, Smokey Smothers, Crip Adams and Bubba Scott on vocals and percussion, The Wild Magnolias were augmented for this special event by a cast of New Orleans funk masters including keyboardist Willie Tee, bassist Julius Farmer, guitarist Snooks Eaglin, drummer Larry Panna and conga player Alfred "Uganda" Roberts.

Following an extended and somewhat spacey/psychedelic instrumental intro by the band (clearly influenced by Herbie Hancock's Headhunters), the members of The Wild Magnolias took the stage at Pope Auditorium wearing their huge feathered headdresses and breathtaking beaded costumes - a longstanding tradition in Mardi Gras Indians culture. With tambourines in hand, they opened with their irrepressible Mardi Gras Indian chants. Then with Willie Tee on clavinet, Julius Farmer pumping out booming electric bass lines and Larry Panna laying down a slamming backbeat, they launched into "Handa Wanda," followed by their infectious hit single from 1974, "Smoke My Peace Pipe (Smoke it Right)."

The Wild Magnolias went on to record through the '70s, '80s and '90s for a variety of labels. They continue to participate in the local "Indian masking" tradition on Mardi Gras day and St. Joseph's Day (also known as "Super Sunday"). They have remained a favorite over the years at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, along with such other Mardi Grad Indian tribes as Golden Eagles, White Cloud Hunters, Guardians of the Flame, Creole Wild West and Yellow Pocahontas. The current edition of The Wild Magnolias is led by Bo Dollis' son, Gerard "Little Bo" Dollis. (Milkowski)