Galactic, JJ Grey & Mofro

Galactic

JJ Grey & Mofro

Fri, February 14, 2014

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

The Capitol Theatre

Port Chester, NY

$50 / $30

This event is 18 and over

This event will have a general admission standing room only floor and a reserved seated Loge and Balcony. Reserved Loge and Balcony tickets will NOT have access to the general admission floor.

Galactic
Galactic
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.
GALACTIC was formed eighteen years ago in New Orleans, and they cut their teeth playing the biggest party in America: Mardi Gras, when the town shuts down entirely to celebrate. CARNIVALE ELECTRICOS is beyond a party record. It's a carnival record that 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 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
JJ Grey & Mofro
JJ Grey & Mofro
"Impassioned singing, riff-based Southern rock, cold-blooded swamp funk and sly Memphis soul." --The New York Times

Over the course of six albums and a decade of touring, JJ Grey's grimy blend of front porch soul and down-home storytelling has taken him around the world and back again. Beating the streets on nearly every continent, he and his band Mofro have sewn a continuous thread of laying-it-on-the-line shows that move folks to dance and at times to tears.

JJ was raised in North Florida by a typically Southern extended family that valued hard work and self-reliance. This upbringing permeates his no nonsense approach to writing and performing and has given him an abundance of material to write about in his songs.

"A friend of mine once said that we're all characters if we're given enough room to be one. I guess I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who had plenty of room cause Lord knows I know some larger-than-life ones. I've had a lot of laughs and good times with those characters. We've shared some hard times too."

These characters and JJ's own triumphs and struggles, make regular appearances throughout his lyrics. "Looking at his show now, it's remarkable to think how far he's come, and to realize the creative spirit and force of will it's taken to get there," says longtime producer and friend Dan Prothero. "But it's also remarkable to see him up there singing about the worst of it, and smiling a smile that has come from accepting the good with the bad. In recent years I think he's come to realize that the fighting stance that seemed to get him where he needed to go back then wasn't getting him where he needed to go now, and so he changed. Letting go and letting it all happen is at the heart of his creative process now."

"The best songs I've ever wrote, I never wrote. They wrote themselves. The best show I ever played, played itself and had little to do with me or talent. To me those things come from the power of an honest moment and I guess I'm trying to live in that power and not force life to cough up what I want. That power is always there whether I'm aware of it or not. Force is the opposite. It requires effort and comes at a great cost. The cost has always been my freedom to truly enjoy what I'm doing while I'm doing it."

April 2013 brings the release of JJ's sixth studio album, This River. Named for the St. John's River -- a centering point for his childhood near Jacksonville, Florida -- This River flows from freewheeling celebrations ("Florabama") to dark inner journeys ("Somebody Else"), from late night, beer-soaked testimonials ("Your Lady") to heartfelt ballads of the almost-forgotten ("The Ballad Of Larry Webb"), and ends with the title track and a singularly devastating vocal performance. With Dan Prothero at the helm as producer, JJ and the band once again returned to Retrophonics Studio in nearby St. Augustine, Florida and muscled out some of JJ's strongest material to date.

"We set up much like we do for our shows, and cut the tracks as close to live as possible," says Grey, "there's something about everybody getting into one room and playing together. It brings some spark that can sometimes get lost in the shuffle of too much overdubbing."

JJ's band Mofro has also been a decade in the making. Over that time, great players have come and gone, but according to JJ, the present incarnation -- with Art Edmaiston on saxophone, Dennis Marion on Trumpet, Anthony Farrell on organ and piano, Todd Smallie on Bass, Anthony Cole on drums and Andrew Trube on guitar – is "the creme de la crème."

"These musicians I get to play with make it look easy. I've learned so much from them about music and about life in general. It ain't always easy to keep a core together when you do so many shows a year, year after year, but I truly hope to keep these guys together as long as possible."

Many of Grey's songs reflect his love for the North Florida wilderness in which he grew up. Having watched his native home be decimated by egregious development, and this has often figured heavily into his lyrics. He now works with groups such as The Snook & Gamefish Foundation and the St. Johns Riverkeepers, but still doesn't consider himself an environmentalist.

"I guess I've never really believed that there is an environment that's separate from me. I reckon that my connection to the environment, which I could call my home, is part of the connection to myself. I believe that whatever I do to my home and everything in it, I in-turn do to myself."

From his early days playing cover music behind chicken wire at a Westside (Jacksonville) juke joint to playing sold-out shows and some of the largest music festivals in the world, it's been a long road. But JJ has no illusions about where he's headed or where he's been. When prompted with questions about his past accomplishments or future plans, JJ lays down a little backwoods wisdom:

"I'm just a salmon swimming up stream. Going back home I reckon. I don't know why and I quit caring why a long time ago. I guess there is no 'why' that my mind could understand anyway. All I do know is that I've enjoyed and I'm still enjoying every second of just being here and doing whatever it is I'm doing."

JJ Grey is from Jacksonville, Florida. He made his recording debut in 2001 with Blackwater, following up in 2004 with Lochloosa (both albums reissued by Alligator). In 2007 Grey released his Alligator debut, Country Ghetto, followed by 2008's Orange Blossoms. With the release of 2010's Georgia Warhorse, Grey stepped further into the mainstream view with the AAA radio breakout single The Sweetest Thing. In 2011 the full fury of the bands live show was captured on the live CD/DVD Brighter Days.

JJ has played countless festivals, including Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, Austin City Limits Festival, Byron Bay Blues Festival (Australia), Montreal Jazz Festival and Fuji Rock (Japan). Over the course of his career, Grey has shared stages with the likes of Lenny Kravitz, B.B. King, The Allman Brothers Band, The Black Crowes, Los Lobos, Jeff Beck, Ben Harper, Booker T. Jones, Mavis Staples and many others. In 2011 the band extensively toured the UK. That same year, back in the USA Grey embarked on his first-ever solo tour, playing packed-to-capacity clubs. The band returned to Europe in 2012, playing multiple dates in the UK, Germany and The Netherlands. Grey and his band, who continue to play over 125 shows a year, will return to Europe in 2013.

JJ's songs have appeared in film and network television including House, Flashpoint, Crash, Friday Night Lights, The Glades, The Deadliest Catch and the film The Hoot. In November 2009, JJ wrote his first film score for the critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning documentary The Good Soldier that appeared in theatres and on Bill Moyers' Journal on PBS. In 2010, JJ played piano, sang and contributed a song ("The Wrong Side") to Buckwheat Zydeco's Grammy-winning Alligator Records album Lay Your Burden Down. JJ also appears on Shemekia Copelands' Grammy-nominated 2012 CD 33 1/3.
Venue Information:
The Capitol Theatre
149 Westchester Avenue
Port Chester, NY, 10573
http://thecapitoltheatre.com/