By JESSICA PEREZ, Managing Editor
Jam bands seem to attract the most eclectic audiences, which I think can be attributed to the fact that many of these bands have been around for decades. New Orleans funk band Galactic is no different. Its members have been jamming together since 1994 (in other words, the group is as old as I am.)
Spending that much time on the road certainly has a way of influencing -perhaps even transforming- a band’s sound. Galactic in particular fuses their funky style with blues, jazz, rock, world music, swing and big band. The diverse musical elements muster even more diverse fans of all backgrounds and ages.
Galactic consists of five musicians: Jeff Raines (guitar), Stanton Moore (drums), Robert Mercurio (bass), Ben Ellman (saxophone/harmonica), and Richard Vogel (keyboards). They are known for featuring a plethora of talented musicians and vocalists who help give Galactic’s music its soulful quality. Currently, the band is on tour with Shamarr Allen, a brass player and rapper, as well as powerhouse vocalist Erica Falls, both of whom also hail from New Orleans.
The first leg of Galactic’s Winter Tour was a West Coast funk-fest that ended with a Mardi Gras celebration in the heart of the band’s hometown. The second half of the tour picked up in March and focused on the Midwest, with a stop in Detroit on Wednesday, March 22 at St. Andrew’s Hall.
A variety of openers have joined Galactic along the way, but The Hip Abduction stuck around through a majority of the tour, including the Detroit show. This ensemble features seven members who describe their music as “wanderlust-inspired global pop.” They incorporate West African instruments like the kora and kamale n’goni, as well as shakers, bongos, and other sounds that add to their unique musical approach. Several of the band’s music videos were shot in exotic locations such as the Virgin Islands and Costa Rica, to bring the listening experience full circle.
The third album from The Hip Abduction, Gold Under the Glow, was just released on March 11, and this tour with Galactic has helped them reach new audiences and create many new fans, myself included.
Everyone in the audience was feeling the groove all night long. The dancing didn’t stop until Galactic left the building, though I imagine many people kept the party going after the show. Erica Falls blew the crowd away with her vocal abilities; they ate up the “gumbo stew” she was so generously serving. The group without a doubt showcased its Cajun flavor through a dynamic range of songs and crowd-pleasing instrumentals.