I've been getting a lot of questions about whether or not we're performing at Mardi Gras Galveston this year and the short answer is, sadly.... no. The reasons behind it are lengthy, though, and for once it has nothing to do with whether or not we torqued off the event or the event torqued us off. Nope, it's a much more complicated issue than that... lemme e'splain... no, that would take too long.. lemme just sum up.
Since our very first Bilge Pumps show at Mardi Gras Galveston in 2000, we have been performing there, missing only 2001 (when the theme was Space) and 2005 (when we performed at Mardi Gras in New Orleans). And this time, we were all set to rock and roll to perform in the 2008 Mardi Gras, just like we did in 2007 when we played 2 shows, including Saturday on the main stage, shortly before Deep Purple. Then the delay happened. There was meeting after meeting after meeting and the entertainment coordinator didn't really know what was going on as there was no information coming down from above. Then one day I called him and he gave me the news that there was going to be NO stage entertainment at Mardi Gras Galveston in 2008. None. Zilch. Zero. Zippo.
That seemed almost too incredible to be true, so I contacted someone in the Galveston Parks and Visitors Bureau to find out the straight skinny. Here's what they told me:
The single biggest expense in putting on Mardi Gras in Galveston is what the city charges the GPVB to put up fences and provide security for the event. It is more by far than what they pay the entertainers to perform and the stages/sound systems to be rented. The city has been increasing the amount they charge each year, thereby increasing the cost of a ticket to get into the 2 sectioned off blocks of the Strand area to see the shows. In addition, the city would not let them put on any entertainment unless the city itself provided the security, making them the only game in town. The GPVB was left with two choices, keep paying out the nose to the city and put on the event as usual, taking another financial hit in the process, or they could just not have any entertainment at all. No security, no stages, no admission, just several parades and a whole lot of bead-seekers crowding under the few balconies that will still be tossing beads to the half-naked people standing underneath. The GPVB chose the latter and that's where we stand for 2008, no stages, no entertainment, no Bilge Pumps, and a much more muted and bummed Strand for Mardi Gras.
I'm sure there will still be a ton of parties going on held by the various Krewes and in some of the local pubs, but I don't really know where/when they'll be (so don't ask me). The spirit of Mardi Gras will live on in G-Town, but it's not going to be the same, and certainly won't be the Mardi Gras Galveston that I know so well and has welcomed the Bilge Pumps with open arms. ('Course the whole Jean Laffite connection helps them welcome us as well)
Where do I stand on the whole thing? Well, to tell the truth, I only know one side of the argument, so I can't really say. I just know that it comes down to money (as it always does) and that the money argument is sucking the fun out of the whole thing. I know that we won't be there, which is a huge downer. All I can say is that if you're wanting to get entertainment back on the Strand for Mardi Gras, call the Park Board of Trustees at 409-797-5000 and let them know about it.
Because it's all for me blog. Me jolly jolly blog.