Winter Park/Live Music: New Orleans-style party band plays for a better today
February 6, 2009
Although on tour when Hurricane Katrina left devastation in its wake, New Orleans-based band E.O.E. was changed forever.
After a return home to their stomping grounds, members came away with a renewed sense of purpose and latched on to the one thing they had left ” their core, their music.
E.O.E., which stands for Equal Opportunity Employment, is the “product of four different members, backgrounds and cultures,” explained drummer Gabriel Velasco. Members are proud of the variety each of them lends to the band, providing an unending mixture of styles.
“Our diversity creates our unity,” said Billy Franklin, 7-string guitar player, and their music is a testament to that strength.
“E.O.E. speaks of personal beliefs and experiences from different angles,” Velasco said. “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 Velasco’s history and heritage, he said. “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.”
That drive keeps them on the road, playing what frontman Franklin said has been a lot of what is really hot right now in world music. Their songs intertwine peace and forward thinking with improvisation and social and political “overtones,” spreading a message against social and political injustice.
Touring is important to them for a number of reasons, Franklin said. “First and foremost, it spreads the music and message of the group to as many people as possible. Also, touring is the best way to get the group in front of promoters and industry people that can further the band’s reach with choice opportunities.”
The band had a monumental 2008, with four Best of New Orleans awards (Best Emerging Act and Best Live Show from Gambit Weekly and Best Hip-Hop Act and Best Emerging Act from Yat’s Best of the Big Easy Awards) and an invitation to join the official lineup for the New Orleans Jazz Fest 2009. E.O.E. also recently signed with In the Pocket Artists and have deemed this show as part of its “We Be In The Pocket” tour 2009, a “tour for a bigger purpose.”
The band is the brainchild of Franklin, who started Atman Roots Productions. During their shows, he, Velasco and members “Koan” (trumpeter Tyrone Sims) and David Hyman (bass) celebrate “the spark of life and the triumph of survival.”
Two of several efforts they support include Sweet Home New Orleans and Drop in the Bucket. SHNO is a collaboration of non-profit agencies working to revitalize the New Orleans music community. Drop in the Bucket was formed by a group of friends working to help drill and install water and sanitation systems in large African schools.
The talented ensemble has also been putting the final touches on “a healthy heapin'” of new material for a new album this fall. Almost all of their repertoire is original, with about 80 percent by Franklin. Sunday’s show will be showcasing quite a bit of their new stuff, he said.