Carnival Caravan is a unique collaborative touring and recording project between the Brazilian-American band Nation Beat and the New Orleans-based band Cha Wa, and interestingly enough, the project began when Nation Beat’s Scott Kettner and Cha Wa’s Joe Gelini met in New Orleans on Mardi Gras. As the story goes, Kettner and Gelini were in front of Big Chief Monk Boudreaux’s house awaiting the Golden Eagle Tribe – and as the duo paraded with the Golden Eagles throughout town, they started chatting about music. If you’re familiar with the traditional music of Brazil and the traditional music of New Orleans, it should be rather unsurprising that the duo of Kettner and Gelini realized that although each were playing different instruments and rhythms from different continents that there was something fundamentally related – that ultimately there was a deep musical and cultural connection.
The collaborative project’s main goal is to incorporate Brazilian and New Orleans-related music, dance and art into a live show and albums (in terms of music) that explores the cultural exchange between North and South America. “Golden Crown,” the album single off Carnival Caravan’s self-titled effort sounds as though Dr. John, The Meters and Allen Toussaint went down to Rio de Janeiro; it’s an ebulliently joyful sound, full of bright colors and a complex and propulsive rhythmic structure that should make you want to get up and dance or join the second line as it was marching down your street. It puts a unique twist on a familiar, traditional song. But more importantly, the resulting collaboration and the album’s first single says that funk is the world’s lingua franca.
The Carnival Caravan album is slated for a July 31 release through Nation Beat Records. Interestingly, Nation Beat is joining La Quilombera at SOB’s on June 27th, as well as a Summerstage date on August 2nd.