Galactic’s Early Days
The RC Bridge Lounge, a dive bar that favored punk and metal bands, opened in 1992. The edgy bands that played there attracted huge crowds that spilled out onto the sidewalks of lower Magazine Street until the club closed amid neighborhood concerns. The spot in now occupied by a more upscale bar called the Bridge Lounge.
One of the bands that played at the RC Bridge Lounge, and at Muddy Waters as well, was a driving metal band called Oxen Thrust. The group would merely be a footnote in this tale if it weren't for the fact that their drummer was a young New Orleanian named Stanton Moore. Moore's musical direction would change considerably when he joined up with fellow students, Jeff Raines and Robert Mercurio to form Galactic Prophylactic- the precursor to the great funk outfit, Galactic.
On March 16,1995, Galactic appeared at the WTUL Rock On Survival Marathon on a day that also featured an incredible set by All That as well as great sets by Lump, a short-lived edgy rock band that usually included the future Galactic saxophonist Ben Ellman, and the Rebirth Brass Band.
It was a beatifully sunny early spring day and the atmosphere on the quad added mightily to the proceedings. After their set, I decided that Galactic represented a new kind of groovy. Interestingly, Stanton Moore was unavailable, so Johnny Vidacovich played the gig.
On May 5, 1995, Galactic played for the first time at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The fest's organizers had them booked as the second act on the smaller Stage Four- known as the House of Blues/Dr. Martens stage at the time. The spot was jammed shoulder to shoulder with people who had heard about this hot young funk band. It was clear they were already popular enough to have been booked on one of the bigger stages.
A little over two weeks later, Galactic appeared as the middle band on a three-act show at the House of Blues. All That opened and the Soul Rebels were the headliners. This time it was Galactic's Jeff Raines who was missing. Alex McMurray, who had roared during All That's opening set, donned a black wig and ably played guitar with the nouveau funk outfit.
A week after the show at the House of Blues, I caught part of a Galactic set at the Mermaid Lounge. They had the veteran saxophonist Eric Traub playing vintage New Orleans style soul. Traub was a major force in the early days of the band. He co-wrote three tracks on the first record and appeared, along with the trumpeter Eric Jekabson and Mark Mullins, as a guest artist on the album.
By the end of the year, Galactic was the hottest band in town. In an interview in Offbeat Magazine, Jim Green, the owner of Tipitina's, raved about their drawing power for a young band and presciently opined that, “"If some national or major label could get a hold of Galactic, I think they could do tremendous business, not just in New Orleans."