-David and Melissa Reporting for TSI
Galactic with The High and Mighty Brass Band
Wednesday February 23rd, 2011
It’s shaping up to be a stellar year for celebrated New Orleans outfit Galactic. The band just released their groundbreaking new album YA-KA-MAY, a visionary mix that intertwines New Orleans sounds from jazz to brass band to funk and far beyond. With this release, the five-man group comprised of drummer Stanton Moore, bassist Robert Mercurio, saxophonist/harmonica player Ben Ellman , keyboardist Richard Vogel, and guitarist Jeff Raines – reaffirms their status as the quintessential modern day New Orleans band and one of the funkiest outfits in the known universe.
Galactic is currently on a frantic U.S. tour that will have them see more than 30 cities in 15 states during the next few months.
The group was started when Raines and Mercurio, childhood friends from the Washington D.C. area, moved to New Orleans together to attend college at Tulane and Loyola Universities. They became enamored of the local funk scene populated by such legendary acts as The Meters and Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and inspired by local legends such as Professor Longhair. There they teamed with noted New Orleans drummer Stanton Moore, saxophonist/harmonica player and now producer Ben Ellman, and Rich Vogel. In 2004, the band parted ways with vocalist DeClouet, and now continued as an instrumental group. They have been releasing albums consistently since 1996.
Not having seen Galactic in quite some time, I was pretty jazzed to run out to the Troc and cover Galactic’s first Philly appearance in some time. Even with a last minute mix up at the door, I was able to make it in via the kind help from the Trocadero’s friendly ticket agents and bouncers.
Opening for Galactic, was the New Orleans based High and Mighty Brass Band (HMBB!). Despite the aforementioned finagling with the friendly Troc Staff, I made it just in time to catch the last of HMBB’s set, which the band performed while marching around the late arriving Wednesday night crowd.
Featuring a line-up comprised of Evin Louis on Trumpet, Chad Gales on Alto Sax, Mark Williams on Trombone, Ron Caswell on Tuba, Jesse Barnes on Guitar/Percussion, Evan Howard on Drums, and Dancer/Percussionist Jamie Neumann, The High and Mighty Brass Band was eager to engage the sparse audience, bringing an in-your-face energy and authentic New Orleans style marching band flavor.
High and Mighty Brass Band will be touring with Galactic through March, and will be featured at New York City’s Mardi Gras weekend Friday March 4th with Dr. John and the lower 911, and Marco Benevento at the Sullivan Hall.
Galactic followed HMBB! featuring a line-up that included acclaimed trombonist Corey Henry, and one of the greatest soul singers on the planet, Cyril Neville of the Neville Brothers. The band started with the horn driven “Santa Cruz”, “Funky Bird”, and “You Don’t Know” (featuring Cyril Neville) off of Ya-Ka-May.
Cyril Neville led the traditionally instrumental Galactic with “Gossip, Heart of Steel” and “No More Okey Doke”. Cyril is also an outstanding percussionist, and was featured prominently throughout their set that included “Keep Steppin” and “8 Days on the Road”.
Galactic closed their pre-encore set with “Blackbird Special”, bringing back to the stage the High and Mighty Brass Band and their entire horn ensemble.
Galactic’s encore included “Wild Man,” and, “Who Took the Happiness Out?”. The encore performance featured an inspired 5 minute bass solo from Robert Mercurio, as well as an improvised drum/percussion jam that included everything from two snares to a Gibson ES 335 Guitar.
For more information on Galactic’s upcoming dates and latest E.P, click here.