Stamping the ‘new’ onto New Orleans music
VAIL – Galactic comes full circle tonight at 8150, playing the location almost 10 years before, one of the first out of town gigs for the now instrumental giants. Back then 8150 was Garten’s, and the men of Galactic were just emulating some of their retro funk heroes – the Funky Meters. Galactic has since found its voice, and its as booming as the group’s loyal fan base.
Robert Mercurio, Jeff Raines, Richard Vogel, Stanton Moore and Ben Ellman create music that is funky, gritty, jazzy – a sound that only men intoxicated with the New Orleans scene could produce. Galactic is a live band. Their improvisations are so tight and dynamic that their CDs hardly do the music justice. Just ask any sweaty, tired being after a Galactic show. So on the album Galactic is currently dreaming up, which is swirled in secrecy, the band is taking a new approach.”It’s going to be different than you would expect,” bassist Mercurio said. “It’s a little risky. We’re seeing a CD as a document of music, and the live touring thing being the live touring thing. Maybe what we create on this album is not what we end up playing live. People tape our shows, there’s always that document of that stuff. We’re going within ourselves, thinking of something that is a little bigger statement. But I can’t tell you what it is.” Part of the group’s drive to create new instrumental musical is the departure of longtime vocalist Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet in late 2004. Houseman was the rift between fans. There are fans who love him, and there are fans who hate him. The latter, however, seems to be the dominant opinion.
“I remember seeing Galactic and flying through the roof, then Houseman would come on and bring it down 10 notches,” Crawford Byers, 8150’s music booker, said. “This year Galactic is back to screeching and having fun and not letting down. It seemed very contrived when they had to fit in a singer before.”Houseman worked just perfectly when Galactic was going for the retro instrumental funk band sound, Mercurio said, because he’s authentic retro. “We wanted to take a modern approach to New Orleans sound and it’s hard to do with a guy like him,” Mercurio said. “But I think to be fair to Houseman, the singer is the easiest target. He’s the most tangible thing to love or to hate.”
Vocals haven’t left Galactic’s life forever. Singers “may or may not” be on the new album, but reggae act Papa Mali, the opening musician for tonight’s show, is sure to sit in for a few songs. Galactic loves to jam with outside players, sharing the stage with Jurassic Five, Michael Franti, Warren Haynes and many more.”Imagine having the same conversation with the same four friends, and then someone else comes in with a whole new idea. It’s just exciting. It’s someone new to talk to you for a while.”Regardless of who steps into jam, Galactic shows are as exciting as they get, never knowing exactly what to expect with a constant stream of improvisation.”Hands down, they have the best live shows,” said West Vail local Mike Matthews. The last time Matthews saw Galactic locally was in ’99 after he was caught and saved in an avalanche. “I’m just going out of my mind I can’t wait to see them.”Vail Colorado