Big Chief Juan Pardo is a Mardi Gras Indian from New Orleans, a cultural force who proudly carries on one of the country’s most unique and soulful musical traditions. His performing profile has been heightened by multiple appearances at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and as special guest with the Neville Family Experience at the 2017 Heritage Festival Gala.
Juan’s fascination with the Mardi Gras Indians grew from early interest as a boy growing up in New Orleans, to deeper involvement when his brother started “masking” Indian, to sewing beaded patches for his brother, to making his first Indian suit in 2003, to playing different roles for the Golden Commanches tribe. He worked his way up the ranks, and now is the Big Chief leading his tribe each Mardi Gras.
The music combines chant, ritual, and New Orleans funk. It is rooted in the rhythms of that city’s famed parade and “second line” culture, a deep and living tradition, visually spectacular and viscerally propulsive.