It was the late 90′s when I visited New Orleans for Jazz Fest for the first time. Eight of us holed up in a hotel room in the French Quarter, braving the baking sun to walk through a cow pasture filled with (not only cow patties, but) many styles of music - gospel, funk, pop, rock, jazz and more. We saw Herbie Hancock, George Clinton and The Rebirth Brass Band during the day...and at night walked around the city, going to clubs that played music until dawn. Nighttime shows with Medeski, Martin and Wood, the Meters and Galactic. The things I remember most are: the colored costumes, the marching bands that filled the streets, and the fact that there was music coming from every block, from the street corners, the windows, the front doors.
Galactic is a jazz-funk band that’s been together since 1994. And they sport one of the world’s most acclaimed drummers - Stanton Moore. Funk instruments (including horns) and flawless percussion back guests from the New Orleans scene like Aaron Neville, Walter “Wolfman” Washington and members of the Rebirth Brass Band. The track featuring Irma Thomas from their 2010 release, Ya Ka May, shows that they are not only about the groove, but can compose dance tracks -complete with modern beats and catchy, smart lyrics.
The styles on the latest record range from soulful dance (like the Irma Thomas song):
To urban New Orleans jazz:
To trippy funk-blues:
Though their 2010 record, Ya Ka May, was largely ignored by critics, I think it’s amazing and I bumped it in my car all last summer. It’s a feel good funky record that reminds you that music is not about criticism, music is supposed to be fun. Galactic are playing Showbox Market on Friday, March 25. See you there!
Michele Myers spins every Saturday on KEXP from 3-6pm. It’s a high-energy show that is geared to ramp you up for Saturday night… Every week she plays 3-in-a-row from the Saturday Afternoon Artist. She is the creator of KEXP Documentaries and hosts Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays 6-9am on WNYE 91.5FM in New York City.