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An invigorated Galactic gives up the funk, with friends

Andy Stonehouse

Hurricane Katrina may have caused some serious damage to the musical motherland of New Orleans, but there’s not much you can do to keep that Big Easy spirit down for long.

Hence the very strong showing in these pre-Mardi Gras days of one of the Crescent City’s most popular creations, Galactic, as the band travels the High Country with plenty of proof that even in post-hurricane mode, the spirit of funk lives on.

Galactic will play at 8150 Friday with the Hot 8 Brass Band as openers. Galactic also is rallying the troops for a show on Saturday in Denver at The Fillmore, where the group will be joined by a wild array of New Orleans-based opening acts: Leo Nocentelli of the funky Meters, Big Chief Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolia Mardi Gras Indians, plus Teedy Boutte and the legendary ReBirth Brass Band.

Galactic co-founder and longtime guitarist Jeff Raines says the collaborative aspect of these recent shows has been amply aided by the rotating cast of opening acts.

“We tend to play a lot with the people who are touring with us, so Leo’s been coming out and performing with us a lot, and things go crazy whenever we have dates with the ReBirth Brass Band … things tend to go off the hook when you’ve got a 10-member brass band on stage with you,” Raines says. “It all helps us embrace that crazy, seat-of-your-pants live show style that we’ve become known for.”

Raines says the band opted to plan its current Coup de Gras tour to be very heavy on the New Orleans talent as a tribute to the musical heritage of its still-recovering Louisiana home. It’s also a chance to show people across the country that the music didn’t necessarily die when so much of the city was damaged last year.

“We’ve been trying to make things special, especially with everyone that’s helped us out in New Orleans,” he says. “We all still live in New Orleans; when the hurricane came last year, we were up in Seattle doing a show and my wife was forced to evacuate to Shreveport. We ended up fleeing to the Northeast and living there for four months but we’ve recently been able to go back to our home in New Orleans – our house is close to the Mississippi River levee and it wasn’t too badly damaged in the storm. Things at home are slowly returning to some semblance of reality again.”

The band will be back home next weekend for a couple of nights of pre-Mardi Gras entertainment at New Orleans musical hot spot, Tipitina’s, including an all-night Lundi Gras show on Feb. 27, which will see the band playing straight through until the morning of Mardi Gras.

When the band’s not busy on the road, they’ve spent much of the past few months starting to put together tracks for a new CD, their first since 2003’s “Ruckus.” Raines says it’s been a challenging process doing work at a variety of studios across the country – the building that housed Galactic’s studio in New Orleans was condemned – but they’ve been able to assemble approximately 30 demo tracks so far. The band is starting to pick the material that will make the final cut, he adds.

“We’ll do a week or 10 days of work here or there,” he says. “We actually had a lot done prior to the storm and now we’ve been dealing with that huge chunk of unfinished music. But the stuff we have so far is cool … it’s definitely a bit of a departure from all of the samples on the last CD (produced by Dan the Automator of Gorillaz fame). This is more classic Galactic. We’ve also been talking to a variety of guest emcees we hope to get involved with the disc … we became good friends with Lyrics Born and would like to feature him on the new project if we can. We’ve sought out people who’ve got that more classic hip-hop sound and who are great at rapid-fire, stream-of-consciousness emcee-ing, not guys who talk all that ‘bitches and hos’ stuff.”


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