The tightknit New Orleans music scene just got a little tighter. One of the city’s top musical exports, the band Galactic, has purchased Tipitina’s, New Orleans’ most revered “juke joint” for up-and-coming as well as big-name acts.
“Our goal is to preserve, promote, and protect the future of New Orleans music, culture and heritage via the Tipitina’s venue and brand,” said Galactic’s drummer, Stanton Moore, in a statement.
Galactic is one of the best liked fixtures of America’s “jam band” scene — even among listeners who hate jam bands, but cotton to an eclectic mixture of genres that incorporates funk, soul, jazz, rock and elements of hip-hop and world music. The group has frequently used Tipitina’s as a home base to collaborate with some of the city’s top talent, famous and otherwise; one of their 11 albums to date, 2001’s “We Love ‘Em Tonight: Live at Tipitina’s,” was recorded at the club.
Tipitina’s was named after the New Orleans standard “Tipitina” by Professor Longhair, who performed there frequently between the club’s founding in 1977 and his death in 1980. Among the acts who’ve recorded live albums there besides Galactic: Phish, Dr. John, the Neville Brothers, the Blind Boys of Alabama and, in part, Wilco. National acts with a less rootsy bent have been welcome there as well, including the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Pearl Jam, although it continues to be best known as a base for Crescent City acts, including next-generation favorites like Trombone Shorty.
The purchase was jointly announced by Galactic and Mary and Roland von Kurnatowski, who’e owned the club for the last two decades of its four-decade existence. ““We received multiple attractive offers for Tipitina’s,” said Roland von Kurnatowski in a concurrent statement. “It was really important to us to ensure that this club, the icon that is Tipitina’s, end up in the right hands. We purchased the club in 1997 and have nurtured it ever since. We’re confident that Galactic is the right fit — that they will cherish Tipitina’s and take it to the next level while protecting all that makes Tips such an authentic American cultural venue.”
““We’re so incredibly honored to be part of the team tasked to be the current caretakers of such a historic venue,” said Galactic’s Ben Ellman. “My connection with the club started way before I was lucky enough to take the stage. My first job in New Orleans was at Tipitina’s as a cook in the now defunct kitchen. The importance of respecting what Tips means for musicians and the city of New Orleans is not lost on us.”
The group’s next album, “Already Ready Already,” comes out Feb. 8, preceded by a New Year’s Eve show at, naturally, Tipitina’s.