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Band brings ‘New Orleans party’ to Fraser

by Cyndi Palmer
Sky-Hi Daily News

When the New Orleans-based band E.O.E. looked around them at the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, they latched on to the one thing they had left – their core, their music.

Katrina gave the band a renewed sense of purpose, which they have carried with them over the years since.

Their drive keeps them on the road, playing a lot of what is really hot right now in world music – funk, hip-hop, reggae, Latin and jazz.

Said to be a “New-Orleans-style party,” the band was the brainchild of Billy Franklin, who started Atman Roots. (He also plays bass for the Holden Young Trio, which was just up here jamming out at the Crooked Creek.) During their shows, he and the other members, Gabriel Velasco, “Koan” (Tyrone Sims) and newest member David Hyman, celebrate “the spark of life and the triumph of survival.”

“At this point in my life, I am very influenced by the dynamic of everyday life in New Orleans,” Franklin said.

Although they were on tour when Katrina left chaos in her wake, the band was changed forever. They’ve not only picked up the pieces in their old stomping grounds, but survived cultural and racial obstacles.

“Our diversity creates our unity,” Franklin said. E.O.E., which stands for Equal Opportunity Employment, is proud of the variety each member lends to the band, providing what Franklin said “is an unending mixture of styles.”

“It’s the product of four different members, backgrounds and cultures,” Velasco adds. “E.O.E. speaks of personal beliefs and experiences from different angles. The music is geared to showcase musicianship in hopes to accomplish the message of the particular song. Traditional Latin music is a direct reflection of my history and heritage. Hip-hop comes from Koan’s childhood living in New Orleans. Jazz and reggae are brought in by Billy’s travels and education. Any other fusion of rhythms is a mixture of these three diverse members that share a common goal – to better and inspire the world for a better today.”

The talented ensemble is tuning up for an album release set for the spring, which will continue the band’s advocacy of “social and musical acceptance.” It is also in honor of their 14th tour since Katrina, titled “Fortune and Circumstance.”

Their songs are said to intertwine peace and forward thinking with improvisation and social and political “overtones.”

The band has shared the stage with greats like Ellis Marsalis, Vinyl, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Nori Naraoka of the Neville Brothers, Cultura Profetica and Freddy Omar. Velasco and Franklin even composed a song for the soundtrack to film “Day Shift.”

Franklin said Grand County has been one of the better places E.O.E. has performed. He recalls many good times at the now-defunct On The Rocks.


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