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Friday, February 24

Galactic Goes Mardi Gras With "Carnivale Electros" Album and Tour!

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From Shorefire Media:
It's incredible that GALACTIC has never made a carnival album yet, but now it’s here.
To make CARNIVALE ELECTRICOS, the members of GALACTIC (Ben Ellman, harps and horns; Robert Mercurio, bass; Stanton Moore, drums and percussion; Jeff Raines, guitar; Rich Vogel, keyboards) draw on the skills, stamina, and funk they deploy in the all-night party of their annual Lundi Gras show that goes till sunrise and leads sleeplessly into Mardi Gras day.

CARNIVALE ELECTRICOS evokes the electric atmosphere of a whole city – make that, whole cities – vibrating together all on the same day, from New Orleans all down the hemisphere to the mighty megacarnivals of Brazil. Armed with a slew of carnival-ready guests—including Cyril and Ivan Neville, Mystikal, Mannie Fresh, Moyseis Marques, Casa Samba, the KIPP Renaissance High School Marching Band, and Al "Carnival Time" Johnson (who remakes his all-time hit)—GALACTIC whisks the listener around the neighborhoods to feel the Mardi Gras moment in all its variety of flavors.
CARNIVALE ELECTRICOS begins on a spiritual note, the way Mardi Gras does in the black community of New Orleans. On that morning, the most exciting experience you can have is to be present when the small groups of black men called Mardi Gras Indians perform their sacred street theater. Nobody embodies the spiritual side of Mardi Gras better than the Indians, whose tambourines and chants provide the fundament of New Orleans carnival music. These “gangs,” as they call them, organize around and protect the figure of their chief. The album’s keynote singer, BIG CHIEF JUAN PARDO, is, says Robert Mercurio, “one of the younger Chiefs out there, and he’s become one of the best voices of the new Chiefs. Pardo grew up listening to the singing of the older generation of Big Chiefs, points out Ben Ellman, and “he’s got a little Monk [Boudreaux], a little Bo Dollis, he’s neither uptown nor downtown.”

On “Karate,” says Ellman, the band was aiming to “capture the power” of one of the fundamental musical experiences of Mardi Gras: “a marching band passing by you.” The 40-piece KIPP Renaissance High School Marching Band’s director, Lionel "karate" Williams, arranged up GALACTIC’s demo, then the band rehearsed it until they had it all memorized. The kids poured their hearts into a solid performance, and, says Mercurio, “I think they were surprised” to hear how good they sounded on the playback.
Musical energy is everywhere at carnival time. “You hear the marching bands go by,” says Mercurio, moving us through a Mardi Gras day, “and then you hear a lot of hiphop.” There hasn’t been a Mardi Gras for twenty years that hasn’t had a banging track by beatmaker / rapper MANNIE FRESH sounding wherever you go. “You can’t talk about New Orleans hiphop without talking about MANNIE FRESH,” says Ellman. His beats have powered literally tens of millions of records, and he and GALACTIC have been talking for years about doing something together. On “Move Fast,” he’s together with multiplatinum gravel-voiced rapper MYSTIKAL, who is, says Ellman, “somebody we’ve wanted to collaborate with forever. It was a coup for us.”

Out in the streets of New Orleans, you might well hear a funky kind of samba, reaching southward toward the other end of the hemispheric carnival zone. There has for the last twenty-five years been a smoking Brazilian drum troupe in town: CASA SAMBA, formed at Mardi Gras in 1986. They’re old friends of GALACTIC’s from their early days at Frenchmen Street’s Café Brasil, and the two groups joined forces for a new version of Carlinhos Brown’s “Magalenha,” previously a hit for Sérgio Mendes.

But the Brazilian influence on CARNIVALE
ELECTRICOS goes beyond one song. “When we started this album, we all immersed ourselves in Brazilian music and let it get into our souls,” says Mercurio. The group contributed three Brazilian-flavored instrumentals, including “JuLou,” which riffs on an old Brazilian tune, though the name refers to the brass-funk Krewe of Julu, the “walking krewe” that Galactic members participate in on Mardi Gras morning. After creating the hard-driving track that became “O Côco da Galinha,” they decided it would be right for MOYSÉIS MÁRQUEZ, from the São Paulo underground samba scene, who collaborated with them and composed the lyric.
If you were GALACTIC and you were making a carnival album, wouldn’t you want to play “Carnival Time,” the irrepressibly happy 1960 perennial from the legendary Cosimo Matassa studio? Nobody in New Orleans doesn’t know this song. The remake features a new performance in the unmistakable voice of the original singer, AL “CARNIVAL TIME” JOHNSON, who’s still active around town more than fifty years after he first gained Mardi Gras immortality.

The closing instrumental, ,“Ash Wednesday Sunrise,” evokes the edginess of the post-party feeling. The group writes, “There is the tension you feel on that morning -- one of being worn out from all of the festivities and one of elation that you made it through another year.”
But, as New Orleanians know, there’s always another carnival to look forward to, and GALACTIC will be there, playing till dawn and then going to breakfast before parading.

GALACTIC is a collaborative band with a unique format. It’s a stable quintet that plays together with high musicianship. They’ve been together so long they’re telepathic. But though the band hasn’t had a lead singer for years, neither is it purely an instrumental group. GALACTIC is part of a diverse community of musicians, and in their own studio, with Mercurio and Ellman producing, they have the luxury of experimenting. So on their albums, they do something that’s unusual in rock but not so controversial an idea in, say, hiphop: they create something that’s a little like a revue, a virtual show featuring different vocalists (mostly from New Orleans) and instrumental soloists each taking their turn on stage in the GALACTIC sound universe.
Mostly the band creates new material in collaboration with its many guests, though they occasionally rework a classic. Despite the appearance of various platinum names on GALACTIC albums, they especially like to work with artists who are still underground. If you listen to CARNIVALE ELECTRICOS together with the two previous studio albums (YA-KA-MAY and FROM THE CORNER TO THE BLOCK), you’ll hear the most complete cross-section of what’s happening in contemporary New Orleans anywhere – all of it tight and radio-ready.

Despite the electronics and studio technology, GALACTIC’s albums are very much band records. Mercurio explained the GALACTIC process, which starts out with the beat: “The way we write music,” he says, “we come up with a demo, or a basic track, and then we collectively decide how we’re gonna finish it.” The result is a hard-grooving sequence of tight beats across a range of styles that glides from one surprise to the next.

What pulls all the diverse artists on CARNIVALE ELECTRICOS together into a coherent album is that one way or another, it’s all funk. GALACTIC is, always was, and always will be a funk band. Whatever genre of music anyone in New Orleans is doing, from Mardi Gras Indians to rock bands to hardcore rappers, it’s all funk at the bottom, because funk is the common musical language, the lingua franca of New Orleans music. Even zydeco can be funky -- and if you don’t believe it, check out “Voyage Ton Flag,” the album’s evocation of Cajun Mardi Gras, in which Mamou Playboy STEVE RILEY meets up with a sampled Clifton Chenier inside the GALACTIC funk machine.

Feb 24
Union Transfer w/The Soul Rebels
Philadelphia, PA
Feb 25
Terminal 5 w/Steel Pulse & The Soul Rebels
New York, NY

Feb 26
House of Blues w/Steel Pulse & The Soul Rebels
Boston, MA

Feb 28
The Westcott Theater w/The Soul Rebels
Syracuse, NY

Feb 29
Mr. Small's Theatre w/The Soul Rebels
Pittsburgh, PA

Mar 01
Beachland Ballroom w/The Soul Rebels
Cleveland, OH

Mar 02
Park West w/The Soul Rebels
Chicago, IL

Mar 03
Cabooze w/The Soul Rebels
Minneapolis, MN

Mar 04
The Vogue Theatre
Indianapolis, IN

Mar 14
The Pageant w/Orgone
St Louis, MO
 
Mar 15
Liberty Hall w/Orgone
Lawrence, KS

Mar 16
Paddy Gras at The Ogden Theatre w/ALO & DJ Logic (Night 1)
Denver, CO

Mar 17
Paddy Gras at The Ogden Theatre w/The Aggrolites & DJ Logic (Night 2)
Denver, CO

Mar 18
Belly Up (Aspen)
Aspen, CO

Mar 20
Knotty Pine
Victor, ID

Mar 21
Wilma Theatre w/Orgone
Missoula, MT
Mar 22
Domino Room w/Orgone
Bend, OR

Mar 23
Showbox SoDo w/Orgone
Seattle, WA

Mar 24
Crystal Ballroom w/Orgone
Portland, OR

Mar 25
The Crystal Bay Club
Crystal Bay, NV

Mar 27
Moe's Alley w/The Soul Rebels
Santa Cruz, CA

Mar 28
Belly Up Tavern Solana Beach
Solana Beach, CA

Mar 29
El Rey Theatre w/The Soul Rebels
Los Angeles, CA
Mar 30
The Fillmore w/The Soul Rebels
San Francisco, CA

Mar 31
The Fillmore w/The Soul Rebels
San Francisco, CA

Apr 01
Hard Rock Cafe
Las Vegas, NV

Apr 13
McDowell Mountain Music Festival
Phoenix, AZ

Apr 17
Track 29 w/Moon Taxi
Chattanooga, TN

Apr 18
Cannery Ballroom w/Moon Taxi
Nashville, TN

Apr 19
Variety Playhouse w/Moon Taxi
Atlanta, GA

Apr 20
Minglewood Hall
Memphis, TN

Apr 22
Houston International Festival
Houston, TX

Apr 27
Tipitina's Uptown
New Orleans, LA

May 05
Tipitina's Uptown
New Orleans, LA

May 06
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
New Orleans, LA

May 19
Dominion Riverrock Festival
Richmond, VA

Jun 03
Michael Arnone's Crawfish Fest
Augusta, NJ

Jul 26
Floyd Fest
Floyd, VA