The Music Mill, 3720 E. 82nd St.
Saturday, Feb. 23, 9 p.m., $20 advance, $22 day of, 18+
Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, and the city’s vibrant music community was no exception; all five members of funk band Galactic were forced to scatter around the country following the disaster.
“We were just driven to continue,” keyboardist Richard Vogel says. “In that period right after the storm, we were at a loss as to what to do with ourselves. When we finally figured out we could start making music again, it was a therapeutic thing for us to do.”
Band therapy began at a studio in Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains where guitarist Jeff Raines and his family had landed. The band (bassist Robert Mercurio, saxophonist Ben Ellman, drummer Stanton Moore, Vogel and Raines) started hashing out grooves using pre-recorded loops by Moore, who had other obligations at the time. Those initial sessions laid the groundwork for their seventh album (and first post-Katrina release), From the Corner to the Block.
“We always had this idea in the backs of our heads to make a record that was live funk band meets the cream of the crop of the underground hip-hop world,” Vogel says.
Once Moore returned to the fold, the band sent some of the raw material to two MCs with whom they had performed before, Lyrics Born and Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na. Not only were they receptive, but other hip-hop rebels eventually came calling, including LB’s fellow Bay Area wordsmiths Gift of Gab and Lateef the Truth Speaker.
“Once the project was really happening, we were able to get other people on board, even if we hadn’t really done anything with them before,” Vogel says.
Even though recording sessions were collaborative and improvised, From the Corner to the Block is still a consistent record, with strong contributions from all performers.
“Taking a project like this, there’s a bit of an X factor — you don’t really know what you’re going to get,” Vogel says. “But we started getting these tracks back, and everyone had done something cool that we were thrilled with. No one just sort of phoned it in.”
Galactic could’ve phoned it in or given up the band after Katrina. But like the rest of their beloved hometown, they’re coming back stronger than ever.
“It slowed us down, but it hasn’t stopped us,” Vogel says. “That’s exactly what I’d say about the city.”
If you’re looking for somewhere to wind down and discuss the performance, there’s a FREE official Galactic after-show party planned at the Mousetrap Bar and Grill (5565 N. Keystone Ave.) featuring South Bend funk six-piece Jassy Grazz.