By Gabe Meline
W e may not have a Bourbon Street, with all its wrought-iron balusters and urine-drenched side alleys, but that's not going to stop the North Bay from providing a miles-wide gumbo stew of Mardi Gras celebrations. Conveniently scheduled throughout the weekend both before and on Fat Tuesday here's a quick smattering of the dirty rice that's cookin.'
On Friday afternoon, Feb. 1, Napa's COPIA kicks things off with a demonstration and zesty lunch of shrimp remoulade, jambalaya, cornbread and sweet potato pie. . . . On Saturday night, Feb. 2, there's a Mardi Gras Mambofest at Mill Valley's 142 Throckmorton featuring Lady Mem'Fis and Rahni Raines with Rhythmtown Jive; gumbo dinner included. . . . The French Garden in Sebastopol turns into a mini Preservation Hall with the Fourth Street New Orleans Jazz Band, while Marin's Rancho Nicasio hosts the Tee Fee Swamp Boogie Band with Cajun menu specials. . . . The landmark 85-year-old Monroe Dance Hall in Santa Rosa serves a curious mix of a Cajun dinner paired with tango and swing dancing, while Little Switzerland , an even older dance hall in Sonoma at 102, hosts perennial zydeco favorites Gator Beat.
Nurse that hangover right outta your life on Sunday, Feb. 3, to the Dixieland sounds of Golden Gate Rhythm Machine as they highlight a smattering of jam sessions by "jass" traditionalists T.R.A.D.J.A.S.S. at the Last Day Saloon in Santa Rosa.
After a day to recoup, throw on those nutty outfits and get to drinkin': it's Fat Tuesday! First is the KRSH party at the Last Day Saloon with Rhythmtown Jive, kicked off by a parade around Railroad Square—perfect for suggestively tossing your Mardi Gras beads to the host, Bill Bowker. . . . Naw'lins flavor spreads into blues, reggae and R&B when the award-winning Pulsators take over the Tradewinds in Cotati, while Graton's Ace-in-the-Hole hosts the Canal Street Jazz Band, honking out classics like "Sweet Georgia Brown.". . . Sabor of Spain in San Rafael goes full-hog with dinner, winetasting, a mask contest and cover tunes by the Erin Band, while the cozy Hurley's Restaurant in Yountville serves up a traditional Fat Tuesday dinner via guest chef Karen Crouse. . . . And finally, even lil' ol' Calistoga gets in on the debauchery with the local all-star Wild Catahoulas bringing down the Calistoga Inn . Laissez les bon temps roulez!