Back around the turn of the century--while Jelly Roll Morton was perfecting his piano technique in the brothels of New Orleans--Glendale was best known for its powerful temperance movement and a sanitarium run by the Seventh-day Adventists.
On Sunday, it was unclear whether history or bad weather was to blame for the disappointing turnout at a free Mardi Gras party at the Glendale Civic Auditorium. In the first three hours of the six-hour event, no more than 25 people were on hand to enjoy the chugging rhythms of Eunice, La., zydeco accordionist Jo Jo Reed and a number of other performers with roots in the swamp.
The free show was an attempt to bring together Glendale's diverse communities and expose them to new cultural experiences, said Patricia Heisser Metoyer, marketing director for PRC Corporate Events, the new Glendale-based company that put on the show.
Although the enthusiastic crowd was a little too small to qualify as a scientific sampling of Glendale residents, the event did have a few multicultural moments. For example, Iranian American security guard Davood Attin, 46, got his first dash of exposure to the red-hot sounds of South Louisiana.
"I haven't heard this before, but I like it," said Attin, yelling over Reed's toned-down take on the X-rated Boozoo Chavis classic "Uncle Bud." "It has good rhythm."
Restaurant owner Gary Silver and a few Latino chefs from West Hollywood's Cajun Bistro were on hand too, selling plates of jambalaya and red beans.
Silver, 38, is a native of that bastion of Creole culture, Kiev, Ukraine. Asked if there were cultural parallels between New Orleans and his hometown, he said, "Absolutely none."
How about between Glendale and New Orleans? "Uh, probably about the same amount."
Reed's squeeze-box work got only two or three couples out on the dance floor, but he said the show was a pretty good start for the city of Glendale.
"If they keep on, they can build something," he said. "You know that saying--you gotta crawl before you can walk."