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jan 06 2011

Experience Mardi Gras like a rock star

Better Than Ezra members, from left: guitarist and keyboard player Jim Payne, singer and guitarist Kevin Griffin, bassist Tom Drummond, and drummer Michael Jerome (Rick Olivier, courtesy of Sparkle Beetle Communications)

Why party like a rock star when you can hang with the rock stars instead?

The latest trend in travel—musician and celebrity-led trips—is hitting Mardi Gras this year, as alt-rockers Better Than Ezra announce a personally-guided weekend tour of their home state's annual festival.

The band, famous for 90's hits such as "Good" and "Desperately Wanting," will host a 3-day event, dubbed the Krewe of Rocckus, during the last weekend of Carnival, from Thursday, March 3rd to Saturday March 5th.

(Mardi Gras officially kicks off Friday, February 25th and runs through Fat Tuesday, on March 8th.)

Lead singer Kevin Griffin told us by phone this week that he got the idea after seeing the success of musicians John Mayer's and Kid Rock's cruises last year. Kid Rock's 2010 trip was such a hit, in fact, that the sponsor company, Sixthman, is already planning a 2011 sailing.

"We're neophytes in the travel industry," Griffin said, "but New Orleans is our town, and what better way for visitors to experience it than with insiders like us? I want to take people to the neighborhoods I love, the restaurants where I eat, and the music venues I like best."

In many ways, the Krewe of Rocckus package is like a fast-pass to the rock star treatment. Tickets grant guests the kind of exclusive access that would be next to impossible for most to come by on their own, like admission to private balconies on Bourbon Street and stands on historic St. Charles Avenue to watch the parades. Also included are tickets to two nights of concerts by Better Than Ezra and other Louisiana musicians at the House of Blues.

Griffin said his "love affair" with New Orleans began when he lived there after college, right around when he founded Better Than Ezra with fellow Louisiana native Tom Drummond. "The architecture, the music, the literature, the food—there's just something inherently inspiring about New Orleans," he said.

After Katrina, Griffin and the other members of Better Than Ezra established a non-profit called The BTE Foundation and raised more than $2 million to help rebuild the city and restore the coastline.

"Rebuilding post-Katrina is still ongoing, but New Orleans is in a much better place today than it was before," Griffin said. "So now I want to get people down here to show them what the city's all about. Mardi Gras is not just some college party weekend—it's a beautiful cultural event, with incredible music and food and pageantry. We're going to be bending over backwards to make sure people have a good time and see that side of it."

If this year's Krewe of Rocckus is a success, Griffin said he hopes to make the trip an annual tradition.

Krewe of Rocckus packages start at $695 per person, including meals, open bars, all tickets, and three nights' stay at the Hilton Riverside Hotel. Airfare not included.

Booking details can be found here.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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