It looks like it’s shaping up to be a Big Easy weekend in D.C. Galactic is in town Friday night, August 6th, featuring Cyril Neville and Corey Henry at the 9:30 club. On Saturday, Soul Rebels Brass Band will bring their horns to the State Theater.
Galactic’s music is pure New Orleans funk, but the band actually has some D.C. roots. Guitarist Jeff Raines and bassist Robert Mercurio lived here before heading to New Orleans for college where they met drummer Stanton Moore to form the unit that would become Galactic. Elvis Costello may have described them best on the HBO series Treme when he said the band was â€œlike the Meters, but white guys.â€ So what makes it pure funk? The fact that it’s not pure at all. Their new album Ya-Ka-May mixes the sounds of jazz, brass bands, gospel, rock, and hip-hop. That places it in the great tradition of New Orleans R&B. It’s a guest star driven affair that features quite a few New Orleans icons like Irma Thomas and Bo Dollis. It also includes rappers like bounce queen Cheeky Blakk. The bounce sound has been around for a couple decades now and I guess it makes sense that it’s being thrown into the mix of great New Orleans sounds. Trombone player Corey Henry is one of the New Orleans stalwarts who shows up on Ya-Ka-May. He’ll also be joining the band Friday at the 930 club.
It was Henry’s usual band, Rebirth Brass Band, that ushered in the era of hip-hop influenced New Orleans brass bands (after Dirty Dozen made the music funky in the seventies). Among the best of the bands that followed Rebirth’s lead is the Soul Rebels. Their regular Thursday night gig at Le Bon Temps Roule may be best weekly gig in the city–and that’s saying something in New Orleans. They keep the traditional brass band instrumentation (bass and snare drum, tuba, trombone, saxophone, a coupe trumpets), but these are musicians that can play anything. Expect to hear current hip-hop radio hits right next to funked up traditional New Orleans jazz at the State Theater.
By the way, if you can’t make these shows, there’s still more Nola in D.C. next week. Â Trombone Shorty is at the 9:30 club on August 13.