The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra
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The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | SELF

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | SELF
Band Rock Avant-garde





The beautiful thing about progressive rock music is that it comes in so many shapes and sizes. There’s room for many musical styles in the big-tent. So here’s a new one for you. Imagine a blend of jazz, rock, prog and bluegrass with a hint of classical. Put that all together and you get the music of The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra. Their new disc All Out of Peaches features the talents of John Wright (bass), Lisi Wright (fiddle), Mark O’Day (drums) and Dan Neale (guitars). I think it’s interesting that they specifically say “fiddle” and not violin because in many respects that instrument sets the tone for the overall sound of the band. And while there are moments where a classical sensibility shines through their first love is clearly a more down-to-earth musical approach. There is nothing high-falutin’ about this band, they just love to make music.

All Out of Peaches starts off with one of the more progressively inclined compositions, namely the title track “All Out of Peaches” [3:48], which given it’s short running time still manages to go through a number of shifts in time and tempo. It’s amazing what you can do musically when you don’t have to make room for vocals! This slides directly into the shorter “Ruby” [1:22] which more than anything is a solo violin piece that’s as classical as the band gets and then we’re into “Paparazzi” [5:13] which features some subtle shifts in moods but exudes a slow-burn jazzy blues feel. The more soft-jazz “Memo 9” [7:22] really allows the band to show their individual strengths. The fiddle is ever present, the guitar riffs are plentiful, the bass and drums percolate. This track shows the band at their jazzy-combo finest. There are a couple of tracks that sort of reflect their western cowboy influences namely “Cajun in Spurs” [2:59] and “The Blaze” [2:40]. Virtually every one of their compositions manages to feature some interesting musical change-ups going from fast to slow or busy to spacious. It’s actually quite surprising how much is going on here.

The musicianship is top-notch and the sound is pristine. You hear every pick of the guitar and every draw on the fiddle. The music is both complex and yet easy to listen to. But most of all it sounds great and it leaves you feeling ‘up’. Next opportunity I encourage you to check’em out. I think you’ll be surprised by what you hear and I think you’ll like it.

Written by Jerry Lucky
- Progressive Rock Files

"Prognaut Review"

This is a superb group of seasoned pros from Minnesota that are described as Chick Corea meets Dixie Dregs meets Prairie Home Companion. I whole-heartedly agree with this description. Many might look at this as a commercial adult contemporary sort of band, but it is a fine example of four musicians coming together to make interesting, creative, and extremely well done jazz rock, with rock, bluegrass , folk, and bluegrass styles. For me, it reminded me of a very rare and lesser known band called Flying Island that I owned on vinyl back in the 70's. It does have a commercial intention, but the point is they do this music in a way above average way. If you appreciate well played music in the good time fusion realm, then you will love this band.

The individual players all have big credentials from different backgrounds, which is what makes this combination happen so exact and easy. For instance, Dan Neale, the guitarist has played with Bo Diddley and Martin Zellar. Mark O'Day studied with Joe Porcaro ( Jeff Porcaro's father ).
Okay, so it's mostly safe (meaning your whole family can enjoy it) and not at all for the proggers who love RIO type fusion, nor is it for the prog rocker who like only progressive rock s, or even the jazz fusion freaks into only heady bands such as Arti + Mesteri, Didier Lockwood, Morglbl, ( don't expect me to list 50 more ) and the like. You know those fantastic European jazz fusion bands *s* So, for me, it is a thing of enjoying any band who plays great, in that often hard to find eminence.

I think you all will be surprised at the end of the disc, as cuts like Dark Matter( song 6) kicks into high gear with double bass drumming, and pulls of a Jean Luc Ponty ala Simon Phillips sound a like fusion, off in living color. It is at that point that my ears perked up and I knew something was far deeper with this recording than a MOR style happy NPR band. This band can cook and has the chops to do anything they want. So it is with this, that I can recommend the band's debut. Not one slacker musician in the bunch. Take my word for it. Dark Matter is worth the price of the CD alone. The female violinist fits in perfectly with the whole scheme of things.

You'll get a kick out of coming from Dark Matter to the next bluegrass tapping your toes songs. Much like the concept Mike Oldfield pulled on last song of Tubular Bells, with that little folk jam. Leaves you with the same opposite emotions. I tend to enjoy being jerked from ecstasy to funny. In short, there is no boredom in all this. Song 9 ( Missing Parts) brings back the jazz fusion ala Dixie Dregs. Then they end with a ethereal intro that jumps into that jazz rock mode again adding that same strong ending of a Jean Luc Ponty jam out complete with double bass drums and crystal clear musicianship throughout. There isn't a weak track on the CD, and you'll have to make a call whether you like a diverse recording of top notch, jazz rock, bluegrass, fusion, with touches of eastern, all in a nicely wrapped birthday present. I like it!!! ( coming from a RIO nut, who owns over 10,0000 CD's from all over the world from some of the most odd and insanely good bands in the entire planet. ). *note* Be sure to keep the CD playing at end for another little surprise ditty(hidden track) they have waiting. It really does say something about the band. Honestly, I think this band really wishes it could be more avant garde, but the market won't allow them to make a dime doing that. I could cry for that fact. Most of us prog lovers would wish we could make a living with our music. BUT.. The public gets what the numbskulls want them to have. Here is looking forward to another CD by The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra. Over and out!

Reviewed by Lee Henderson on October 13th, 2010
- Prognaut


Looking for a little different? This album could be just what your looking for. ''The Intergalactic Cowboy Orchestra'' are (on this album) a four piece instrumental band who play an eclectic blend of music ranging from folk to progressive, esoteric to grunge and country to raga.

As the band were unknown to me before I received the album to review, I played the album a few times to get the feel of what the band were about. At first, I struggled with the album but after the third listen I began hearing a plethora of nuances in the music. I have to add here that the musicianship on the album is of a very high standard and is not overplayed or pretentious in any way shape or form. I can honestly say that every track on this album is unlike the next. The range of musical styles is vast, this has the listener wanting to know where the band are taking them next.

I'm not wanting to write a blow by blow sort of review but the highlights of this album are ''Minor Scrape'', ''Slow Pour'', ''Raga Piloo'', ''The Biscuit Breakdown'', Odd Men Out'' and the very out there ''Dark Matter''.

As a progressive rock fan who clearly remembers the classic seventies progressive scene, listening to the music on this album reminded me of how many bands from that era who I love that have violins, violas or fiddles in their line-ups. I don't know if the band are influenced by any of the bands of this era but in this album I have heard similarities to Caravan, King Crimson, Jerry Goodman and Jean luc Ponty all pioneers or progressive, jazz fusion and experimental music. This is why I feel the album may be of interest to fans of progressive music. I feel that this band would be a great live act.
- Progmeister

"Galactic Cowboy Orchestra fuses many elements on "Lookin' For A Little Strange.""

Adding a funky and fun coating over progressive blue grass jazz rock (quite eclectic, huh?), The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra’s debut LP, Lookin’ For A Little Strange, is a very cool, calming and complex release by a promising and professional quartet.

The band hails from Minnesota and consists of established musicians Dan Neale (Guitar), Lisi Wright (Fiddle), John Wright (of Lehto & Wright – Bass), and Mark O’Day (Drums). They define their music as “Chick Corea meets The Dixie Dregs meets A Prairie Home Companion,” and their influences also include King Crimson, Tool, and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Lookin’ For A Little Strange is very appealing, with each new listen revealing something new to grab your attention.
“The Biscuit Breakdown” begins the album in a fast paced and groovy way. The bass dances around as the fiddle and guitar exchange solos over simple chord changes. There are a few rhythmic changes and it’s more like an especially technical hoedown than anything else. This is the formula and vibe that the album sticks to throughout, but it’s never repetitive, as each track offers significant variations, and a few differ from the sound substantially.

A more somber and quiet mood comes with “Soft Pour,” which carries an air of remorse in its strings and guitar, and “Raga Piloo” introduces an Eastern flair and a proggy structure due to a more disjointed, puzzle piece construction. One of the heavier tracks, “Dark Matter” is what Rush would sound like if they included country instruments.

“Driving South Wes” definitely carries the same sense of intricate counterpoints Return To Forever did so well, and Chick Corea would fit in perfectly with his unique piano style. The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra close the album with two more relatively heavy tracks, “Missing Parts” and “Odd Men Out,” that effortlessly invoke the essence of John McLaughlin in the guitar tones and song structures.

Lookin’ For A Little Strange incorporates so many styles so fluidly that it’s hard to imagine a music fan who won’t be impressed and intrigued by it. The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra has introduced itself wonderfully, and a sophomore effort is already heavily anticipated.

- Jordan Blum
- Philadelphia Rock Music Examiner

"The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra, All Out of Peaches: Prog-Fuze with A Southern Tinge"

A little bit like the Dixie Dregs before them, The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra play a blend of prog-fuze that brings a shade of southern country comfort into the mix on occasion. That has something to do with the guitar-fiddle two-tandem of Dan Neale and Lisi Wright, who both have a little country in their sound, and both have no little command of how to bring that into the instrumental prog-jam fold the band resides in. They also solo with some authority. John Wright plays a very solid roto-sounding bass, he can take an interesting solo in the rock zone and generally has a good presence and out-front quality not always heard in this sort of band. Mark O'Day plies a respectable set of advanced rock drums and gives out with a driving sound much of the time. All this can be heard on their second opus, All Out of Peaches (New Folk 2302).

Together they run vigorously through a set of originals that have some of the busy qualities of the genre without sounding like they are aping other bands. There's a little odd-metered frontier-crossing and melodic arrangements that follow a somewhat original curve.

I do especially like what Lisi Wright does on fiddle, a kind of Richard Green sweetness and fleetness within the fiddle tradition and soaring solo lines, but everybody gets some moments to put their sound across. And as an all-member effort they do get a very interesting blend. Not routine fare by any means, this music will give devotees to the genre a new voice to listen to. They may not always get a hard edge to the sound (if that sort of thing matters to you), but there is real musicianship going here that one has to respect.

Written by Grego Applegate Edwards
- Gapplegate Guitar & Bass Blog

"The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra – Lookin’ For A Little Strange"

Uniqueness I like. Originality I like. Quirkiness I like. Good song structure I like. Adeptness I like. The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra’ Lookin’ for A Little Strange I like.

What I am about to tell you is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra have what I believe, brought something slightly different to the table, jazz, a mix of world / fusion, rock, Eastern Indian Raga and bluegrass. Now I know some will scoff at that word bluegrass, Hayseed Dixie will spring to the minds of others, but let me tell you this. The Orchestra are no one trick pony! If you don’t believe me jump straight over to their MySpace page and watch the videos of the band performing Ravi Shankar’s Raga Piloo... or Rush’ YYZ... Now do you believe me? On paper this mix shouldn’t work, but it does.

Their blurb describes the music sounding like “Dixie Dregs meets Rush, goes out to breakfast with Merle Haggard, but then gets home in time to go golfing with Jeff Beck”.

Dan Neale (guitars), John Wright (bass and bass pedals), Elisa Wright (fiddle) and Mark O’Day (drums and percussions) make up this band who hails from the Twin Cities, Minneapolis – St Paul, Minnesota.
So on the balance of what I have told you so far we need to get to the nitty gritty, to determine what it’s like. Well, throughout the album, the music presented works its way through differing genres, each making space for each other, segueing harmoniously. In places it does sound a little basic, but to be honest it can’t have been easy melding this altogether. Each player contributes to the cohesion of the tracks, John Wright and Dan Neale really create the back bone of the of the bands soundscapes, allowing all to easily sway between the musical presentations, Elisa adds the ubiquitous fiddle that gives it that unique sound, whilst Mark O’Day holds tight the timing.

Whether we are presented with the Eastern Raga sounds of Raga Piloo, the blues of Iron Range Knee High, the rockier Dark Matter, the jazzy Driving SouthWes, or the stunning Missing Parts, the blue grass framework is never too far away. The album has some nice time changes that will keep you enthralled. Wright's bass work really stands out throughout the whole album as does Neale’s different guitar approaches.

Some may find the approach a bit too countrified, but all in all it is a likeable, pleasant and enjoyable album. It will be really interesting to see where The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra goes from here?

John Doyle
- Dutch Progressive Rock Page


Songs We Didn't Write, Vol. 1 (Jan. 2009)
Lookin' For A Little Strange (Nov. 2009)
All Out of Peaches (Feb. 2011)
Songs We Didn't Write, Vol. 2 (Feb. 2011)
GCO DVD (Mar. 2011)

The band has air-play throughout the US and beyond via online and terrestrial radio stations. "All Out of Peaches", made it into the Top 20 Best Prog Albums of 2011 from the Progressive Metal Examiner.



Fusing together jazz, classical, bluegrass, art-rock, Indian ragas and their own original stylings — The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra (The GCO) plays with fire, precision and commitment.

The GCO sounds like Bela Fleck meets Rush, goes out to breakfast with John Coltrane, and gets home in time to go golfing with Jeff Beck.

Bassist, John Wright, started the band in 2008. He wanted to create technically challenging, improvisation-based music. He started jamming with guitarist, Dan Neale and drummer, Mark O'Day. The final member, fiddle player Lisi, nudged her way into the band after hearing a few rehearsal tapes that husband John Wright brought home. "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 themselves a band!

Not only are the individual players consummate purveyors of art-rock music - with influences from Rush to Mahavishnu Orchestra to Tool to Bela Fleck - they're also a bit quirky. The GCO likes to show their sense of humor via short-films released on YouTube and Facebook. The films characters include The Galactic Council, The Galactic Minion and fan favorite, Gregg Allman's Liver. During their theater shows, the band is able to screen some select shorts throughout their performance.

The band is available for performances in rock clubs, theaters and festivals. The show is adjusted according to venue and the presenter's preferences/input are definitely important when deciding whether or not to bring along the short-films and the lighting crew.

Combining virtuoso musicianship with adventurous writing and an ear for the unexpected, this quartet of fiddle, guitar, bass and drums will awaken the senses with both their instrumental prowess.