Wild Magnolias

Bo Dollis Jr and the Wild Magnolias

“Bo Dollis, Jr. is the son of the late Bo Dollis, Sr., Chief of the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians. In his role as Big Chief, Bo Dollis, Sr. helped to turn the Mardi Gras Indian culture away from violence. Instead, he encouraged the Indians to compete among themselves to see who could sew the most beautiful and intricate suit. Like his father, Bo Dollis, Jr. is a member of the Wild Magnolias; he continues his father’s tradition of using colorful feathers, sequins, and beads to create elaborate suits.” -Craig Kraemer myNewOrleans.com

The Wild Magnolias helped introduce Mardi Gras Indian music to a worldwide audience. In 1970, the group cut a 45rpm single for Crescent City Records, entitled “Handa Wanda”. In addition to their usual ensemble of vocalist and a battery of percussion instruments (snares, tom toms, cymbals, beer bottles, cans, and so forth), the group culled together a number of local musicians, including pianist Willie Tee and guitarist Snooks Eaglin, as their backing band, called the New Orleans Project. The single received little airplay on radio but was successful in jukeboxes and through local word-of-mouth. On the strength of the single, the group signed with Barclay Records, a French label, and secured distribution of their albums in America with Polydor Records. Two critically acclaimed full-length albums followed, in 1974 and 1975, and a single, “Smoke My Peace Pipe (Smoke it Right)”, cracked the Billboard Black Singles chart, peaking at #74 in 1974. At the height of the group’s popularity, they booked dates at Carnegie Hall and the Capital Centre in Washington, D.C..

Polydor elected not to release the second album stateside, which would not see release in America until 1993. The group returned to New Orleans and local festivals. In the late 1980s, Allison Miner expressed interest in restarting the band’s career, and booked them on new tours along with signing them to Rounder Records, who released an album of theirs, I’m Back…at Carnival Time (featuring the ReBirth Brass Band) in 1990. In 1992, the Magnolias toured Europe as part of Willy DeVille’s “New Orleans Revue” (along with Dr John, Johnny Adams, and Zachary Richard). They can be heard on DeVille’s album Big Easy Fantasy. They recorded an album for an Australian label in 1996, and in 1999 signed with Capitol Records subsidiaryMetro Blue to release Life is a Carnival. With a permanent backing band, the group began embarking on worldwide tours.

Upcoming Shows for Wild Magnolias at the Maple Leaf Bar

There are no upcoming events at this time.