New Orleans' Funk-Jazz Sextet Galactic Let Their Instruments Do the Talking

Last year, in an interview with NPR, Robert Mercurio, bassist and cofounder of Galactic, admitted, "We don't truthfully have a strong lyrical writer in the band, and I think that's probably good that we have acknowledged that. I don't think there's any shame to reach out and know your weaknesses and try to achieve the best quality that you can."

If there's one thing the New Orleans funk-jazz sextet should never be ashamed of, it's their remarkable ability to evolve and simultaneously remain true to their roots. Formed in 1994 by Mercurio and guitarist Jeff Raines, Galactic has spent the past 20 years entertaining audiences with a relentless touring schedule, an eclectic breadth of genres, and a collection of all-star guest features.

The six-piece of Raines, Mercurio, drummer Stanton Moore, organist Rich Vogel, producer/saxophonist Ben Ellman, and Corey Henry on trombone has typically followed many of the traditions of its Big Easy heroes, namely the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the Meters. But its endlessly creative, jam-band mentality has led it to thoroughly explore nearly every other musical flavor on the planet; blues, electronic, hip-hop, rock, and soul have all sprung up at various points over the course of a career that spans 11 records, including 2015's Into the Deep.

As for not being men of many words, it would be sufficient enough to let their instruments do all the talking, providing raucous soundtracks to Carnivale, Mardi Gras, worldwide music festivals, or even smaller, sweatier funk and jazz hothouses. Instead, not only have they toured with the likes of Shreveport native Maggie Koerner and Corey Glover of Living Colour on vocals but they've soared with an impressive number of guest singers and rappers. A quick glance at this long list finds a varied group from every corner of the pop-music universe: Big Freedia, David Shaw of the Revivalists, JJ Grey, Macy Gray, Mavis Staples, Mystikal, Trombone Shorty, and many, many more.

Whether it's via loops, lyrics, or live instrumentation, the cosmically gifted Galactic always seem to have something to say. If there's one song from the band's latest record that perfectly sums up its main message, it's the standout "Right On." The track features Ms. Charm Taylor, of fellow Louisiana group the Honorable South, honoring each band member's influence and pleading, "You keep talkin' and talkin', and I just wanna dance/I just wanna dance with you." Listen to the lady. Sometimes it's best to be like Galactic: Simply shut up and enjoy the revelry.

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Angel Melendez is an unabashed geek and a massive music nerd who happens to write words (and occasionally take photos) for Miami New Times. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University and an accomplished failure at two other universities, Angel is a lush and an insufferable know-it-all, and has way better taste in music than you. His wealth of useless knowledge concerning bands, film, and Batman is matched only by his embarrassingly large collection of Hawaiian shirts and onesies.
Contact: Angel Melendez