The Mardi Gras season has its own eclectic soundtrack that whips the masses into waves of mismanagement. This annual celebration is filled with the sounds of brass outfits, school drums and trailer bands. Even the crowds that line the street add their own verses to the sounds that fill each parade. An Azalea City expat has captured the sounds and attitude of Mardi Gras and fused them into a new single filled with all the traditional revelry of the season.
On January 7, Jabel Hendrix released his single “Get Down” on digital music platforms. Even though Hendrix currently lives in Atlanta, this former resident of the town of Azalea has always enjoyed what he describes as the “creme de la creme vacation.” In fact, he’s surprised it’s not celebrated nationwide. Even so, Hendrix views Mobile’s Mardi Gras celebration as a unique cultural contribution and uses “Get Down” to express his adoration.
“It was our own special gift that we brought to the United States,” Hendrix said. “It’s the hype and the family and seeing everyone you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s the bands and the MoonPies and watching the floats and the horses and getting the doubloons and the cups. You don’t see not that in every other city you go in. It’s our vacation and I love it.
This love letter to the birthplace of Mardi Gras in the United States is a perfect musical representation of the joy and madness of this boisterous celebration. Hendrix takes listeners to the height of the Mardi Gras season. The electrifying pulse of marching band drums serves as the rhythmic basis for “Get Down” with the opening vocals of “Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum, In a Dish” filling the track with youthful joy. As Hendrix rolls out his Mardi Gras chant, brass brands and crowds walk hand-in-hand with the songwriter. The beats and grooves of “Get Down” inspire listeners to get up and join in the musical celebration with Hendrix as host. “Get Down” is a welcome addition to Mobile’s growing catalog of seasonal music for Mardi Gras.
Hendrix said the origin of “Get Down” isn’t as bright and celebratory as the final cut. The songwriter was pondering the lyrics during the Atlanta traffic jam when a passing driver yelled at him angrily. Because of this interaction, Hendrix said, lyrics began to take shape around the line “Oh, you’re gonna get beat up”. However, Hendrix felt the past two years had been filled with an abundance of negativity. Instead of “beat”, Hendrix began focusing more on “get down”, which evolved into the song’s hook (“Everybody knows when I’m coming to your town / Everybody knows it’s un get, get down”) followed by Hendrix’s Mardi Gras. vision of his hometown. After conceptualizing the song, Hendrix recorded the horn pieces and began working with his cousin, who is a producer.
“We just went back and forth doing voice notes,” Hendrix explained. “He did the tracks, and I started telling him what I liked and arranging it. I started writing the song and I had to have somewhere in there that Mobile is the birthplace of Mardi Gras and pay homage to my city.
When it comes to tracking, Hendrix has kept programming to a minimum. Even so, “Get Down” features multiple layers of vocal and instrumental tracks that flow throughout the song. Along with trading instrumental tracks with his cousin, Hendrix said he was initially responsible for all vocal tracking. Eventually, Hendrix recruited another male vocalist to add some versatility. Together, the duo followed not only the singing but also the background voice dubs of the crowd, including men, women and children. Hendrix said it took seven hours in the studio to build up the layers of vocals worthy of this Mardi Gras holiday anthem.
The spirit of “Get Down” has spread since the song’s release. When his Atlanta friends first heard the track, they told Hendrix that “Get Down” was the perfect song for a TikTok dance challenge. Hendrix even used an appearance on WKRG to encourage revelers along the Gulf Coast to establish the “Get Down Dance Challenge.” Hendrix said digital music platforms such as Spotify also helped bring “Get Down” to the city of its inspiration and beyond. Hendrix said Grapico discussed sponsorship of the classic soft drink. He added that WKRG will also welcome Hendrix to join them as a guest during parade commentary. As for local performances for Mardi Gras 2022, Hendrix said the January release of “Get Down” prevented him from performing the song live at a Mardi Gras event. However, he added that he may perform at a future Mardi Gras event in the Florida Panhandle.
“Unfortunately I know a lot of stuff is booked long before the season starts,” he said. “The song was released on January 7. I got calls from different towns, like a town outside of Ft. Walton Beach. They heard the song and had their first parade last week. They were all excited and kept me informed of the date planned to come to their city and perform the song.
Even though he lives eight hours away from home, Hendrix will never forget the town of Azalea, especially during Mardi Gras. He nurtured both his vocal talents and his love for music while performing at Bethel AME Church. Hendrix was living in Mobile when he began assembling poems that eventually evolved into songs. He also has vivid memories of Mardi Gras both in the parades and in the scramble for the throws behind the barricades. With all that in mind, “Get Down” could be seen as a mass gathering of Hendrix’s hometown memories honed into an unforgettable party anthem for Mardi Gras revelers for years to come.