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A Honky-Tonk Cannonball Chugs Up From the Delta

The Wild Magnolias bound across the platform, banging tambourines and singing "Iko Iko." Banister is in his costume, which contains more feathers than all the showgirls in Vegas combined. The light goes out. Then it pops on again.

The Magnolias climb back on the train. Ross introduces Super Chikan, who starts singing, surrounded by the Tulane dancers, who spin and twirl and kick.

The light goes out. Then it pops back on.

Super Chikan launches into a second song, a lyrical little ditty about tin-roof shacks:

It's lonesome in the country but sometimes I like to go back

And listen to the raindrops falling on my tin-top shack

Then, just when you think Super Chikan has gone all sentimental on you, he sings the next line:

While I'm laying on the floor picking pimples off Bertha's back.

The audience on the platform laughs. The dancers dance. The light goes off, then pops back on. Everybody climbs aboard and the train rolls on into the night.

But there's a problem: The beer's all gone. Fortunately, there's a solution: the half-gallon of rum. Par- tay!

The train chugs into South Carolina. The performers chug rum. When the rum runs out, they resort to dire measures: They start buying booze at the cafe car.

By now, they've been joined by Julie McCollum, 40, an Alabama electrician who's going to New Jersey to take care of her sick mother. She heard the music and joined the party.


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