Ameoba Music celebrates Mardi Gras

New Orleans is exactly 1,908 miles from Los Angeles, but one could hardly tell if they were at Ameoba Music in Hollywood celebrating Mardi Gras. In a tradition lasting nine years, the Los Angeles Amoeba Music store celebrated the New Orleans tradition of Fat Tuesday with a pot-luck, prize wheel, music, and parade. 2011 is the first year Amoeba Records has hosted a live band for Mardi Gras, "We've never done a band before and it has given it a nice flavor," said Amoeba part owner Karen Pearson.

A DJ kicked off the festivities around 3 o'clock with upbeat New Orleans themed music, which led guests straight to a modest parade an hour and a half later. It started within the store eventually spilling out onto Sunset Boulevard. The procession lacked street packing numbers but participants were energetic and strident nonetheless. Honking drivers were rewarded with colorful plastic beads.

Handmade floats accompanied the parade goers, "the floats are in honor of and in tribute to someone who has passed away that year," said Pearson.

Three or so hand pushed miniature floats were escorted several times around the inside and outside of the store by singing, dancing, instrument playing, and otherwise boisterous celebrators.

Heads bobbed and hands clapped in agreement when Vaud and the Villians stepped onto the stage. The 19-piece orchestra and cabaret captivated the crowd with a musical performance like no other.

Andy Comeau, otherwise known as Vaud Overstreet, and his wife Dawn Lewis (Peaches Mahoney), headed the cast of Vaud and the Villains and dove deeply into their roles while on stage. "It's kind of like an old school variety show," said Lewis, "we keep it interesting as much as we can."

Vaud and The Villains brought cohesion to the charity event which raised money for both Tipitina's Foundation and the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic.

"It started as old americana songs with a New Orleans feel to them," said Comeau, "and now we've added so many other influences to what we do." No single individual commanded the show; instead, each member took his or her turn basking in the spotlight.

Backstage at Amoeba, Vaud and the Villains enjoyed fat Tuesday just like everyone else, "It's great," said Lewis, "everyone is so excited!"

"Everyone is in great spirits," added Comeau, "It's real festive and just great."