Artist of the Month: Galactic

Artist of the Month: Galactic

Photo © Jimmy Grotting - Galactic @ Tip's 3.5.2011

Photo © Jimmy Grotting - @ Tip's 3.5.2011

It’s rare to see a band this deep into their career really hit a new stride. After their epic showing on Saturday night, that’s exactly what’s going on right now for the Big Easy’s finest overgrown rhythm section. The now-constant additions of Cyril Neville and Corey Henry have breathed a whole new life into the veteran jazz-rock-n-funk jam band. Anyone who’s seen the band throughout their tirelessly well-traveled career surely already is well aware of Galactic’s penchant for bringing a nearly unparalleled energy to the stage on a rarely-matched regular basis. But right now the game has been elevated and these guys are playing with a new flare of intensity and playing shows that will leave you speechless…and with some amazingly sore feet.

Keyboardist Rich Vogel was kind enough to sit down mid-Mardi Gras and answer some of our questions about the band’s connections with Carnival and existing as a renowned local band in the wildest town on either side of the Mississippi. At this point, Galactic during Mardi Gras is a can’t miss, and therefore they are a no-brainer choice for this month’s Artist of the Month.

Interview after the jump, but be sure to watch this video of Saturday night’s dance performance of a lifetime first.

Rock on brother.

LMB NOLA – The last time we saw ya in the city (10/29/2010), you guys recorded the show for a live album. What made y’all decide that the time was right to follow-up We Love ‘Em Tonight and record a new professionally mastered and official live release?

Its been many years since We Love ‘Em Tonight.  I think once we had toured the Ya-Ka-May material for the better part of year we realized we had a show that presented all of the Galactic elements and drew from our entire catalog of material.

What stands out from that night in particular? For a three hour show, you guys managed to pack in a blinding array of guests and you guys really hit on a lot of the various periods of Galactic.

As Johnny Vidacovich would say it was a cavalcade of stars.  Having the likes of Cyril Neville, Corey Henry, the Soul Rebels, and Big Freedia all on one show equals big fun.

LMB NOLA – How do the traditional Mardi Gras shows at Tipitina’s compare to Halloween, New Year’s and Jazz Fest shows you guys have done?

As daunting as it sometimes seems going into it, playing all night Lundi Gras night until the sun comes up on Mardi gras day is a Galactic/Tip’s tradition that I think we’re all proud to have created.  It started as a lark, but now it wouldn’t be Mardi Gras to me without it.

How do you plan your day when you know you’re gonna be on-stage until sunrise on Lundi Gras?

Planning for Mardi Gras Day?  No planning.  Only one question.  Who’s going to bed first ?– me or the sun.

Also, where did you guys play the first time you performed during Mardi Gras in New Orleans?

I really can’t remember where we played our first Mardi Gras show but I have a feeling it was at Cafe Brasil on a Mardi Gras day.

What’s your favorite Mardi Gras tradition?

Outside of the Tip’s shows I don’t have any absolute must do’s of my own although I have marched with the mighty crew of Julu on many a Mardi Gras day.  Since Mardi Gras usually means a brief period at home between two legs of a big spring tour I’m always just happy to be here in the warm whether with the people I love and any parade, anything I get to is my new favorite.

Favorite cheap meal in the city?

Vietnamese po-boy.

Favorite nice meal in the city?

Vietnamese po-boy with a glass of wine.

Favorite venue you guys play outside the city?

9:30 club in Washington D.C.

Tell us a little bit about the relationship you guys have built with Cyril Neville and Corey Henry over the last couple years, they’ve been touring with you guys on a fairly regular basis and seem to have very much become a part of the band in many ways. How do you guys decide when they are gonna come out with you on the road?

On the road space is limited and we’ve got a lot of mouths to feed. Anyone who is going to tour with us has to offer two qualities: exceptional abilities and they have to be a cool mother for ya. Cyril and Corey score off the charts on both counts.

Galactic w/ Corey Henry from 3.5.2011 @ Tipitina’s —

These last two albums you guys seem to have really embraced your existence as an “overgrown rhythm section” (Rich’s words from our JamBase interview last year), recording with a host of hip-hop/rap MC’s for From the Corner to the Block and a who’s who of local musicians for last year’s Ya-Ka-May, where do you guys want to go next in the studio? Do you foresee an album in the future with just the five of you playing or are you looking forward to hooking up with more guests down the road?

I think that collaborating with select vocalists will always be part of the Galactic mix.  It just makes sense since we are much more player/producers than we are singer/songwriters.

When did you guys realize that you were gonna be able to play music as a career? Was there an actual “click” moment or was it more of a sur-realization that hit you over the course of a few weeks/months/years?

I remember that Robert booked our first two tours.  On the second one we were approached by a booking agent that wanted to work with us and he was convinced that if we kept at it we would start bringing home enough money to live on.  Because we were all young and single and because new orleans was a cheap place to live then it seemed a lot less stupid of an idea then it does now.  Persistence often pays off and occasionally (though not often) naiveté does too.

Favorite Parade?

I’ve got to shout out Muses.  Thursday night on the way home with my wife and step-daughters catch I’m thinking great, just what we need, more shoes…

Favorite non-musical local event?

Favorite non-musical event?  Didn’t know we had any.

Finally, what sort of things do you have in store for the shows this weekend that can you tell us about?

Its hard to make predictions about the mardi gras shows especially lundi gras night.  We play late enough that almost any new orleans musician can show up at some point after their gig.  If I have to quote anyone twice in one article it might as well be Johhny V.  It will be a cavalcade of stars!

March 7, 2011 |  by  |  Artist of the Month
About the author

Wesley grew up in coastal Georgia and is a former resident of The Music City and The Big Easy where he helped get LMB NOLA off-the-ground after launching in January 2011. Over the past few years, he has also contributed steadily to JamBase and Relix Magazine. Recently, Hodges moved on to L.A. where Abita Beer is hard to find, costs about $6 if located and impromptu parading in the streets will most likely get you arrested on the spot.

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