GCO brings ‘interstellar folk music’ to stageWORTHINGTON — Reading the description of the music performed by The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra can result in a bit of head-scratching.
By: Ryan McGaughey, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Reading the description of the music performed by The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra can result in a bit of head-scratching.
“It’s country. It’s rock. It’s jazz. It’s bug-eyed bluegrass from Zeta Reticuli. It’s swing. It’s interstellar folk music... Whatever it sounds like to earthlings, there is no mistaking the virtuoso strains and the star trekking fun of The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra (GCO),” proclaims the Twin Cities-based band’s website. The four-member group will take the stage at 6 p.m. Friday during the Worthington Windsurfing Regatta and Unvarnished Music Festival, and has the status of the first band to play at this year’s event.
If “interstellar folk music” is a genre that’s a bit difficult to comprehend, the GCO website offers an additional explanation of the sounds concert-goers can expect to hear.
“GCO is a unique and powerful musical ensemble that fuses original and traditional bluegrass-edged tunes with jazz and world elements,” the website says. “Their music is Chick Corea meets The Dixie Dregs meets ‘A Prairie Home Companion.’ The mix ranges from highly accessible bluegrass tunes to extreme arrangements of East Indian ragas. GCO’s instrumentation includes guitar, fiddle, bass and drums.”
The “Prairie Home Companion” reference is certainly appropriate, as two of the group’s pieces were performed on the nationally popular National Public Radio program — hosted by Minnesota icon Garrison Keillor — in November 2008.
Minnesota is also where the members of GCO have made their greatest notoriety.
Guitarist Dan Neale, for starters, has garnered a reputation as one of the Twin Cities’ “most adored pickers,” the GCO website touts.
Along with performing with the legendary Bo Diddley, Neale had the recent honor of playing in the house band in the 50th Anniversary Buddy Holly Tribute, where he was joined by musicians from such acts as the Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt and John Mellencamp.
Fiddle player Lisi Wright, just 25, already has a background playing varied music styles that include classical, rock, country and bluegrass, while bassist John Wright brings a repertoire that features blues, rock, fusion and Latin pop. John Wright is in his 10th year with the Celtic folk rock band Lehto & Wright, an ensemble that has played the Worthington Regatta in the past.
Rounding out the band is Mark O’Day on drums and percussion. O’Day is a graduate of the Musicians Institute of Technology in Hollywood, Calif., and has been on numerous tours with Willy Murphy, a renowned Minneapolis bluesman.
The band released its debut album, “Lookin’ for a Little Strange,” last November. Its music is also now available through iTunes.