Hamilton, Ohio – The saint question stands ready for debate, but when The Hot Magnolias play, you can bet your last po’ boy there will be a procession of revelers marching and dancing in their wake.
Creole. Cajun. Jazz. Pop. Americana. Standards. All mixed up in a musical gumbo - heavy on the horns - and poured out steaming over an audience soon to abandon its seats and flock to the dance floor.
“It’s high energy. It’s party music. It makes you want to dance,” said saxophonist David Sharkey. “It’s all very memorable.”
And it’s coming to the Fitton Center’s Jazz & Cabaret series for Mardi Gras Night Saturday, Feb. 18.
The show marks a return to the Fitton Center for The Hot Magnolias, who last played the Carruthers Signature Ballroom in February 2020, the final performance there before the pandemic shutdown.
With the Big Pause in the review mirror, the music of the Big Easy is back in business.
Business is good. The Mags have regular gigs at locations like Arnold’s, Japp’s and Lucius Q in Cincinnati, as well as playing summer concert series all over the region.
The band formed 10 years ago this spring. Lead singer Jason Burkett is a New Orleans native, but he found no shortage of first-rate Ohio musicians looking for a chance to put together a Bourbon Street parade in the Tri-State.
Sharkey studied music education at Ohio State University. “We’ve got CCM here in town, too, and there are a lot of really good musicians around here,” he said. But the Mags aren’t a buttoned-up, high-brow band.
Quite the opposite, in fact, despite the players’ impressive musical pedigree.
“I like it because it’s not too heady,” Sharkey said. “It’s approachable. A lot of the music people associate with jazz is a little bit stuffy. That’s not us. There was definitely an energy it created when we started playing together. We’re all about the audience engagement. We’re playing music people know and we’re playing it a way that’s exciting for them and for us.”
Seating in the ballroom will be capped at 160 to make room for the dance floor. Not to worry. Sharkey said chairs only come into play when people want to catch their breath for a moment.
“Uninhibited shenanigans,” he said. “It’s a party here. A good time.”
Tickets for Mardi Gras Night are $32 for Fitton Center Members, $39 for non-members. Purchase online here or by phone at 513-863-8873, ext. 110.
The Fitton Center for Creative Arts is located at 101 S. Monument Avenue on the Riverfront in downtown Hamilton, Ohio.
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