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February 28 - Mardi Gras Benefit featuring Planet Zydeco & Yankee Chank

Presented by Young Tradition Vermont and Hotel Vermont and supported by the UVM Children’s Hospital, the Vermont Family Network, the Turrell Fund and others. Tickets are $10, advance tickets through the Flynn Box Office, more info at

Finally, Burlington does Mardi Gras ON Fat Tuesday, featuring some of New England’s most enduring and well-known Zydeco and Cajun enthusiasts.  Mardi Gras, also called Shrove Tuesday, is French for ‘Fat Tuesday’, reflecting the practice of the last night of partying, dancing and eating food before the ritual fasting on Ash Wednesday.  Also known as Carnival, it is celebrated in many countries around the world–mainly those with large Roman Catholic populations. Brazil, Venice and New Orleans play host to some of the holiday’s most famous public festivities, drawing thousands of revelers every year.

The event will benefit the Tom Sustic Fund, established to support a bone marrow transplant, generated through a series of benefit events in 1999 and 2000 featuring a wide variety of well known performers. After several bone marrow drives and monitoring and searching on registries in North America and Europe, an ideal donor was not located. After his death in 2001, the funds were re-purposed as on-going support for families with children with life-altering conditions at UVM Medical Center and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.  Dr. Alan Homans, Pediatric Oncologist at UVM Medical Center, will join others who will speak about the importance of the Fund to families with children receiving treatment and information about sponsoring organizations.

Planet Zydeco is an exciting New England-based zydeco band that captures the essence of traditional rural-style accordion-driven dance music as it is played in clubs and dance halls in southwest Louisiana today. Bandmembers hail from the tri-state area of southern Vermont, western Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  The Planet’s funky syncopated sound includes Cannon Labrie on accordion, Peter Pettengill and Nick Keil on twin electric guitars and harmony vocals, Alan Bradbury on bass, Doug Plavin on drums, and Suzanne Wozniak on rubboard. The rubboard, or frottoir, as it is known in Louisiana, is made of corrugated metal, worn like a vest and played with spoons or bottle openers, and is a rhythmic trademark of the zydeco sound.  The band plays a popular mix of up-tempo songs, as well as slower blues-inspired numbers and traditional waltzes for enthusiastic audiences throughout the Northeast.


Planet Zydeco



Yankee Chank is a group of musicians from throughout Vermont and New England who perform traditional dance music from Southwest Louisiana. Drawn together by a passion for traditional Cajun and Zydeco music, the group has performed at weddings, festivals, nightclubs, community gatherings, parties and other events since debuting at First Night! Burlington in 1996. Individually and as a group, they have learned from and performed with many of the most influential Cajun musicians in Louisiana…… Dewey Balfa, Conray Fontenot, Marc and Ann Savoy, Michael Doucet and BeauSoleil, Geno Delafose, and others.  The group is an immersion in Cajun music, featuring fiddle, accordion, guitar, bass and percussion, specializing in traditional Cajun French two-steps and waltzes as it continues to be played in the rural dance halls and honky tonks of Louisiana, with some Zydeco thrown in for extra spice.  The group includes Bob Naess (fiddle), Cannon Labrie (accordion), Jim Burns (guitar), Mark Sustic (bass) and June Drucker (drums).


yankee chank



Alec Ellsworth and Katie Trautz are Vermont-based Cajun musicians, playing traditional old-time and Cajun music.  Alec and Katie are musicians who weave harmonies and melodies together with their instruments and voices.  As multi-instrumentalists, they integrate accordion, triangle, and songs.  They have traveled to Louisiana numerous times, where they’ve learned and shared Cajun and Old-time music and dance, bringing the southern traditions back to their home-state of Vermont.  They will be teaching some Cajun dancing as requested/needed for this event.


Katie Trautz and Alec Ellsworth