It's time to dust off those Mardi Gras beads and masks, as South Floridians will have a chance to taste a bit of the traditional New Orleans festival a little earlier this year.
The New Orleans-based jam band Galactic will perform Friday, Jan. 30, at the ArtsPark at Young Circle in downtown Hollywood. The show will open Hollywood ArtsPark Experience, which brings free concerts to Young Circle throughout the year.
"For me, a Galactic show is sort of about releasing stress, and having a good time, and hopefully seeing some cool music that maybe you didn't expect," says Jeff Raines, the band's guitarist. "There's a very unique music tradition here, and there's a sort of brass tradition alone, so we try to bring elements of that in our show."
Raines wasn't always a fan of New Orleans' jazz and blues. Growing up outside Washington, D.C., Raines and his friend Robert Mercurio, a bassist, played together in rock bands throughout high school. After graduation, they both were accepted to schools in New Orleans. Raines studied music at Loyola University, and Mercurio studied psychology at Tulane.
"It was sort of like a coincidence," Raines says. "And who doesn't want to move to New Orleans if they have the opportunity?"
Raines and Mercurio continued to play music together, and founded Galactic with other friends from school.
At his first Mardi Gras in 1990, Raines was astonished by the drums, marching bands and parade floats.
"It's kind of theater of the ridiculous in a way. It's just an incredibly visually stunning experience," he says. "I hoped one day I would be playing in some venues around."
Five years later, Galactic played its first Mardi Gras show. They now play at Tipitina's every Mardi Gras.
"We've been playing the Monday night show for 15 years or something," Raines says. "We play from about midnight, and we keep playing until sun comes up on Mardi Gras day. It's sort of our Mardi Gras tradition to our fans."
Yet Galactic didn't release a Mardi Gras album until 2012. On "Carnivale Electricos," the band updates traditional music from Mardi Gras and carnival festivals in the Caribbean, Brazil, Europe, and, of course, New Orleans.
"We decided we should try and do our own take on it," Raines says. "Not modernize it, but take a more modern production kind of eye to make that music inspired by Mardi Gras."
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