TCC Playlist: Go To The Mardi Gras by Professor Longhair

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Professor Longhair

Henry Roeland Byrd better known as Professor Longhair or “Fess” for short, was an influential New Orleans blues singer and pianist known for his Afro-Cuban “rumba boogie” sound. From the age of two onward Byrd lived in New Orleans, and his distinctive style was the result of learning to play piano on an instrument that was broken and missing some keys. Jerry Wexler, one of Longhair’s producers, said that he once played a Professor Longhair record to a world-famous jazz pianist. “Totally intrigued,” Wexler recounted in Rolling Stone, “that man … tried to duplicate Fess’ style. An hour and some busted knuckles later, he retired in confusion. ‘I heard it,’ he said, ‘but it’s impossible to play.’” Byrd’s signature song, “Mardi Gras in New Orleans” was released in 1949. A perfect song for Fat Tuesday festivities, listen here: