By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, COKATO, MN The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra will be hitting the Performing Arts Center stage Saturday, April 26 providing audience members with an unforgettable evening of music.
According to its website, the band is known for “fusing together jazz, classical, bluegrass, southern rock, Indian ragas, plus their own original stylings.”
The band’s violinist, Elisa (Lisi) Wright says it’s “down-home, jazz-grass, art-rock.”
“The band seriously plays a bunch of music from a variety of different genres,” Wright said.
Calling the music “highly accessible,” Wright guarantees there is something that everyone is going to like.
Referencing musicians such as Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, and Led Zeppelin, the band “will take the audience on a musical adventure,” Wright commented, adding that the band will also perform some original music, as well.
Dassel-Cokato Arts Association Executive Director Colleen Compton had the opportunity to see the band perform a few years ago during an arts showcase. This was prior to the addition of Billy Thommes, former touring drummer with Jonny Lang.
The audience may also recognize two of the musicians, Elisa (Lisi) Wright and John Wright, on bass, as they both performed in the “At Christmas” production at the PAC in 2012.
“The audience is in for a night of serious musicianship combined with intense original compositions, fun recognizable cover songs,” Compton said. “They are not going to forget this show!”
To compliment the sensational audio, Galactic Cowboy Orchestra has a lighting show created by lighting director Les Walstein, having been on some larger tours.
Bassist John Wright started the band in 2008, after wanting to create technically challenging, improvisationally-based music.
Wright began jamming with guitarist Dan Neale, and drummer Mark O’Day, who has since been replaced by Thommes.
“Violinist Lisi nudged her way in after hearing rehearsal tapes that husband John Wright brought home,” according to the website. “‘She had never played jazz or progressive rock before . . I honestly didn’t know if it would work,’ said Wright. After the first rehearsal with Lisi, it was clear they had a band!’”
The name developed after the band started in January 2009, but before it had produced an album that November.
“I told the guys to come up with a name that turned heads so we could get some summer bookings, even though we didn’t have any music yet,” Lisi said.
Galactic Cowboy Orchestra did the trick. “It worked,” Lisi said. “We got three bookings that summer just off of the name.”
DC student opportunity
Music students at the Dassel-Cokato will have an opportunity to work with the band Monday, April 21 as part of an art learning program.
The basis of the workshop is to introduce young musicians to the “creative world of improvisation.”
As Lisi explained, many students are only used to reading music off a page.
Improvisation introduces students to making music on their own.
“You’re literally just making things up as you go,” she said, adding that it’s really fun for the students.
She explained that they start students off by playing a simple D scale. Then, they have students play random notes within the D scale.
The band then introduces a blues riff to the scale with volunteers trading solos with the band.
“It’s teaching them there is more out there than the music language they now know,” she said, adding that it’s another artistic expression.
The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra’s tour and residency is made possible in part by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the State’s arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota Nov. 4, 2008.
Catch the Galactic Cowboy Orchestra
When: Saturday, April 26 at 7 p.m.
Where: DC Performing Arts Center
Tickets: $15 for adults, $7 for youth. Reserved seating tickets can be purchased by calling (320) 286-4120 or online at www.dc.k12.mn.us/pac.