During a Galactic show, it's hard to pinpoint whether the New Orleans-based band is playing jazz, funk, rock, blues or some other eclectic musical manifestation. But rest assured, there's always a whole lot of groove going on.
Galactic returns to Steamboat Springs on Thursday for a free concert at Howelsen Hill. With the release of its latest album, "Ruckus," the band continues its tradition of playing cool, modern funk and what the New York Times called "some of the most danceable music on Earth."
Members of the Galactic sextet cite solid New Orleans influences such as The Meters, Professor Longhair, the Neville Brothers and Dr. John, but band members don't hesitate to credit heroes from Led Zeppelin to James Brown to Phil Lesh for their funk-filled Crescent City sound. Band members hail from Washington, D.C.; Omaha, Neb.; Los Angeles and Metairie, La., but they all came to New Orleans in pursuit of the city's unique and diverse musical roots.
Only singer Theryl deClouet grew up in New Orleans.
"I come from the basic Uptown thing," deClouet stated in an online interview on the band's Web site. "I went to junior high school with Cyril Neville, and I know Aaron Neville and all his brothers since I was young. They were my inspiration -- they had records out, you know, when I was a little kid!"
DeClouet has been called the "spiritual adviser" who helped bring Galactic together almost a decade ago. He is 20 years older than band mates Robert Mercurio and Jeff Raines, the two childhood friends who started playing gigs under the name Galactic Prophylactic in New Orlean's well-known club scene while they were college students.
"It's just been peaches and cream for me. I'm just riding the wave. In this racially segregated crazy town that makes all this great music, I always wanted to do an integrated thing. They're funky -- they've really grown as musicians. It knocks me out every show that I'm up there with five white boys from the suburbs that's making good funk, and people are loving it, and I'm loving it," deClouet said.
Galactic has joined the ranks of the jam band scene during the years, often featuring lengthy solos and wildly organic renditions of its own heavy rhythms. The sextet is comprised of bassist Mercurio, guitarist Raines, keyboardist Richard Vogel, drummer Stanton Moore, saxophonist Ben Ellman and vocalist deClouet.
Now in its 12th year, the Steamboat Free Summer Concert Series includes children's activities, a petting zoo, local vendors selling food and drinks and a bike corral to store concertgoers' nonmotorized transportation at the music event. No dogs or alcohol may be brought into the concert.
Attendees are asked to bring canned food donations for LIFT-UP Food Bank to the Galactic concert.
Galactic is the fourth of six free summer concerts. The series finishes up Labor Day weekend on Headwall at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area, with Little Feat performing Sept. 4 and Delbert McClinton appearing Sept. 5.