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Forum next week features Treme's underground Mardi Gras tribes

Loyola press release - January 28, 2013

After the overwhelming success of last year’s forum highlighting the history of the Mardi Gras Indians, Loyola University New Orleans Extraordinary Professor of Video Technology Jim Gabour returns to present “Treme’s Underground Carnival: Baby Dolls and Skeletons.” The presentation highlights the deep subculture of some of Treme’s most renowned Carnival groups.

The event is free, open to the public and will take place Monday, Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. in Nunemaker Auditorium in Monroe Hall. For those unable to attend in person, the forum will available via live streaming on Loyola’s website.

The forum will feature special guests, including filmmaker Royce Osborn of the downtown Skeletons and acclaimed musician Bruce Sunpie Barnes of the Northside Skull and Bones Gang. Also in attendance will be Millisia White, founder and director of the New Orleans Society of Dance that is co-producing the current Louisiana State Museum exhibit, “They Call Me Baby Doll: One Hundred Years of a Masking Tradition and Way of Life,” on display in the Presbytere.

Kim Vaz, Ph.D., author of the recently published book,“The Baby Dolls: Breaking the Race and Gender Barriers of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Tradition,” will also speak about the history of the Baby Dolls. Associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Xavier University of Louisiana, Vaz will be available for a book signing immediately following the discussion.

Gabour and guests, many of whom will be in full Carnival garb, will discuss the past, present and future of the underground tribes and how the skull and bones clubs fit into the neighborhood carnival tradition. They will also pay tribute to the late, legendary Big Chief Al Morris of the Skull and Bones Gang and screen film clips of several tribes, including footage of the tribes parading on Super Sunday 2008 and excerpts from Osborn’s “All on Mardi Gras Day.”

An award-winning film producer and director, Gabour primarily focuses his work on music and the diversity of cultures. In the late 1970s, he began shooting interviews and footage of the various Mardi Gras tribes and chiefs, famous for their elaborate costumes and Carnival performances.

“These men and women are a deep cultural treasure for the city of New Orleans, and I am grateful for the opportunities I have been allowed to document their lives and art,” Gabour said. “This forum is an opportunity to wake up our students, and the community at large, to what is out there in this town on Mardi Gras morning, and why it is so important."

During his career, Gabour has earned five Cable ACE Awards, as well as medals at the International Film and Television Festival of New York and the WorldFest Film Festival. Gabour was the featured director of the year at the International Broadcasters Conference in Amsterdam in 2004, 2007 and 2010.

He has produced multi-platinum DVDs for Norah Jones, documentaries on famed soul singer Al Green, and the 25th anniversary concert film for the mockumentary trio Spinal Tap. The DVD for Gabour's feature-length documentary film, “Flow: Living in the Stream of Music,” was nominated for a 2007 Grammy Award. An official selection of film festivals around the globe, the film was added to the permanent collection of the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Mo.

For more information, contact Jess Brown in Loyola’s Office of Public Affairs at 504-861-5882.