In 1987, singer and guitarist Sue Ford moved from Boston to New Orleans and became firmly entrenched in the city’s rock scene. She’s currently married to Jimmy Ford, a drummer, former bar owner, and one-time manager for acts like the dB’s and Richard Hell. The couple plays together in the heavy rock band DiNOLA, but Sue is perhaps best known as the woman who first injected rock ’n’ roll into the city’s traditional Mardi Gras parades.
Sue rightfully felt the parades didn’t reflect the wide variety of music New Orleans offers, and so she did her damnedest to get her all-female rock band Pink Slip onto a float. Her idea to screw with traditions stretching back hundreds of years met with resistance until 2000, when New Orleans’s first all-female parade krewe, the Muses, put out a call for female musicians and bands outside of the jazz and blues genres, which normally dominate the festivities.
A man prepares a float—loaded with beads—for the Mardi Gras parade in Chalmette Lousiana, on February 22.
Nowadays, Pink Slip rocks several parades every Mardi Gras season. On the more crowded routes, fans hold signs demanding “Show Us Your Pink!” Police officers occassionally request the DiNOLA song “I Wanna Die in New Orleans,” which the Fords wrote with Dave Catching, who owns the famed Rancho de la Luna studios in Joshua Tree and who often joins Pink Slip on the parade route. Other frequent special guests include former White Zombie bassist Sean Yseult, Tony Maimone of Pere Ubu, and New Orleans’s legendary singer-songwriter Susan Cowsill, of the Cowsill family band.
Over the years, all the other female musicians who were in Pink Slip have dropped out or been, well, given the pink slip. Eric Laws of DiNOLA now plays lead guitar, and Eddie Payne plays bass. After serving as Pink Slip’s roadie for six years, Sue’s husband Jimmy plays drums on the float while simultaneously running sound.
When I talked to her for a 2012 OffBeat magazine piece I wrote about her role in Mardi Gras, Sue told me about the process of selecting companions for this annual adventure: “When picking my krewe, it’s like going on a canoe trip. First, you’re thinking about all the great friends you want to bring. Then it starts raining and the canoe gets stuck, and you think, ‘OK, who would not deal with this well?’ and you start crossing people off that list.”
So I was honored to be chosen as Pink Slip’s guest bartender for the Knights of Nemesis parade, on the afternoon of February 22 in outlying Chalmette, beyond the Lower Ninth Ward. CLICK HERE to read the rest of the story at VICE.com…
Or check out this truly killer video of Pink Slip playing the Muses parade in 2014: