Thursday, April 5, 2012

I Love This Bar?

Lisi here! Wassup?! It’s definitely been a long time since our last blog post. Something happened yesterday that I just couldn’t resist sharing… 

Here’s my story:
A couple years back, we were trying to figure out our place in the Twin Cities’ music scene… funny, we still are. But, back in 2010, we thought we’d give Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grille a try. We’re aware we’re not a country band, but The GCO obviously has country roots (which were definitely more apparent in ‘10) and Mr. Dan Neale can rock out 400+ country songs via his mind jukebox! At any rate, in August ‘10, we tried a gig at TK’s. We thought maybe we’d be the one weird band that played there… Dixie Dreg-esque, but still play some good ol’ boys tunes. 

Needless to say, the experience was less than desirable and we ultimately had a falling out with the booking agent there (we’ll call him “Joe”). What happened, you might ask? He was angry with us because we played too many instrumentals in our first set (Wabash, Orange Blossom and Gypsy Grass) and he approached John – Marc & Pam Kowalski, do you remember this?!? – and was making pushy song suggestions. I tell you what, I’ve literally never seen John get as mad in public as he did at that moment and he told (Joe) off. It was pretty awesome, actually. Afterwards, (Joe) wanted to try another booking, but make sure we only played one instrumental per set. I politely and professionally declined, and we then went into an email battle much like the fight between the server and the manager at the end of the movie Waiting

Manager: “You’ve got the job,” Server: “Thank you, but I quit,” Manager: “Too bad, you’re fired!”

As compared to…

(Joe): “Let’s try again, but play what I tell you,” Me: “Thanks, but we’re not interested in playing there anymore,” (Joe): “Yeah, well we’re not interested in having you back anyway.” 

As I initially mentioned, we’re still trying to find our place in the TC music scene and we’ve decided to try playing more around town once again. John sent out an email to the band to let everyone in on our plans.

Here’s what John wrote at the end of March:
Hey there,
The booking agent and I spoke this evening and thought it would be a good idea to try and play more in town, as we could all use the gigs.
So, stay tuned for further updates.

I replied with:
I already have an email into (Joe)… hoping for a house gig at Toby Keith's. :)
I thought that was brilliant and had a nice little chuckle as I wrote it. 

Yesterday, April 4th, I found out from John that both Dan and Mark thought I was serious. Which makes my email even funnier, at least to me! Mark, in particular, was very unhappy with the thought of playing the great TK’s again.  Ha!

So, here’s what I wrote yesterday:
Hey Guys,
I hope this isn't a weird email, but I wanted to address something that came up today… John told me that he had let both of you know that the whole Toby Keith's thing was a joke. I needed to write to let you know, it's actually not. I've been putting some time into this and repairing my relationship with (Joe), too. We actually grabbed a drink a few nights ago and it definitely seems like we're on the same page. He'd like to try us out on Monday nights starting in May. Because Mondays are slow, we're thinking that the band should play longer so that we can reach more people: 6-Midnight. This is only going to help us because we're working off of a door deal. I know, I know… door deals aren't the best, but honestly, both (Joe) and I see some real potential in building an audience for the band. We're getting an 80/20 split of the door - 20% to us, 80% to the bar. Unfortunately, they're not charging a cover, so it's actually a split of the tips, but Scott assured me that the folks who frequent TK's are incredibly generous, so I'm looking forward to some financial success with this as well.
At any rate, I hope that makes you guys feel a bit better about the house gig. I'll be in touch with more details as we find out. I think (Joe) will be forwarding our set lists to me next week.
Talk to you soon.
Yours truly,

I was laughing so freakin’ hard while I wrote that! And, you see, I’m one of those people who likes to share when I’m funny. Don’t you think I’m funny? DON’T YOU?!?

…Mark still didn’t think it was funny (so he said… he must have had a bit of a LOL moment, don’t you think). Too soon, Markie? J


Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I’m sitting at a desk looking out at this gorgeous day and working on some GCO updates. We’ve been working on some new tunes and are looking forward to breaking those out this summer. Thanks to all the Facebook fans who voted on which band to cover first… we’ll be adding a cover of a Yes song to our set this summer as well. Watch for its debut at the Mankato Arts Festival! Can’t wait!

All of our albums are now available on I-Tunes, people! Listen, download, leave some reviews! Actually, I was just thinking about updating our “News” section on our website, which hasn’t been updated in WAY too long and thought – I could just let everyone know about the I-Tunes add on Blogger instead. What are your thoughts?.. should we change our “News” section to a “Blog” section instead? Hmmm… So many things to think about when you’re in a band!

I had a great time this past weekend traveling with my hubby, John, and band buddies Trent Romens and Billy Thommes. Billy had his Prog-pod, as he liked to call it, rockin and I got to listen to some sweet Crimson, Yes and all kinds of new music (new to me, at any rate). I had no idea the Mars Volta had such crazy chops!

It was a fun weekend of music-listening and I felt inspired to dig out some classical music. I started working on my old audition piece, Mozart’s Concerto in A Major. Man, that’s a tough piece of music, especially since I lost my old copy and, thus, no longer have my teacher’s trusty fingerings to help me out. I definitely like the idea of getting some of my classical chops back. I’ll keep working at it. You never know, maybe GCO will play some Mozart for ya’ll this summer!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

New Tunage - Dan's 1st Post

Hello friends and neighbors,
I'm momentarily sitting still and typing (slowly) to let you know the GCO are hard at work on some new tunage. We had a practice/writing and arranging session last Monday night and it was a lot of fun.We have at least two new pieces of music happening and I know John and Lisi are going to lay some more on me next Wednesday. I think Mark O'Day is joining in on that night also. That means I'm farming out some of my yardwork this weekend and putting in some practice time. I'm hoping we'll play one or two of these tunes at Golden Valley Days on the 21st of this month. Hope to see y'all there and hang out for the rest of the bands.           

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Duluth News Tribune Review

Hey All!
We received a fantastic review for "All Out of Peaches" from John Ziegler of the Duluth News Tribune. Read below:

CD Review
The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra
“All Out of Peaches”
by John Ziegler

   Groups like The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra need to be heard, to understand just how high the bar for contemporary instrumental music really is in 2011.
   Fusing together jazz, classical, bluegrass, southern rock, Indian ragas, plus their own original styling’s; this quartet, made up of some of the Twin Cities area’s finest artists, play with fire, precision and commitment.
   Their brand new release “All Out of Peaches” (Leo Kottke told me years ago that naming instrumental tunes and albums was one of the most problematic aspects of his job) is simply bursting with individual and collective excellence and is a proper showcase for just how talented this group is.
   The title track, with Lisi Wright’s violin and Dan Neale’s guitar leading the charge, has the rhythmic feel of Jean Luc Ponty and John McLaughlin during their “Visions of the Emerald Beyond” period. This pair, repeatedly through the course of the disc, create an inner mounting flame with exquisite lines and spirited ideas. There is a lightning-fast segue into an acoustic foray that could easily be mistaken for Alison Krauss, Jerry Douglas, Dan Tyminski and Ron Block…then just as speedily they hop back into an electric groove that I could visualize head-bangers throwing their hair around to. It’s an instrumental tour de force that serves notice to the listener: this isn’t just another bunch of musicians slapping it together out of some fake book….this is something very special.
   “Ruby” begins with what could be an excerpt from a Paganini violin concerto showcasing Lisi Wright’s dexterous fingerboard work complete with trills, double-stops, and razor-sharp intonation. The complete ensembles entrance provides a soft cushion into which the fiddle nestles on a tune that paints a portrait of a Ruby who is/was full of love and compassion.
   “Memo” has a funkified vibe with drummer Mark O’Day walloping out a hellacious back-beat that could wake the dead. Bassist John Wright’s tenancious bottom end allows the violin and guitar to almost float over the top with sustained articulation that sounds like Carlos Santana (at his best) getting deep inside the note.
   “Cajun in Spurs” is a hoedown and lets guitarist Neale (a former Martin Zellar band-member) cut loose with some tasty, and very greasy, chicken pickin’; “Straight To The Top” brings to mind English guitarists John Renborn and Bert Jansch in an acoustic fret-fest; “Five UpFront”  is in 5/4 time which is the perfect vehicle to dance to… for people who have one leg just slightly shorter than the other; “Minion” is like looking up into the dark, blue night sky on a crisp winter eve and seeing the Northern Lights; “The Blaze” is simply taken at a ridiculously fast tempo (it’s a bit like Steve Morse and the Dixie Dregs meeting Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke and Return To Forever). The record goes on from there with superb playing and original ideas.
   If you love Trampled By Turtles and the ferocious speed with which they carry on, and look forward to their summer show with Willie Nelson, then do yourself a favor and check out this disc and this group “live” when they come to town tomorrow night.

John Ziegler has worked in the music industry for 37 years as a radio host, interviewer, record producer, and professional musician.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

For this installment of our blog, I, Mark O’Day, drummer for The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra, thought it might be fun to answer some fan questions so here goes. 

Dear GCO, 
I’ve seen you perform live many times. You’re great! But everytime I see you, I can’t stop thinking about this question: What is the meaning of the word hemidemismiquaver? 
-Lori M. (Taos, NM)

Hey Lori, 
Thanks for the question! Hemidemisemiquaver: A Musical time of 1/64. We use these quite frequently in GCO. Unless, of course, Lisi has been drinking. Then we have to stick to quarter & eighth notes.

I love The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra! My question is: Can I join your band? I think I could really fill out your sound. I play tuba. Just let me know. 
–Gustaf P. (Newark, NJ)

Hello Gustaf,
I think I speak for the entire band when I say YES! It would fill out our song for sure. See you at the next gig. Wear something nice please.

Wow! Love the sounds! Your band is in such incredible physical condition, especially the drummer. My question is: Do you have individual personal trainers or just 1 trainer for the whole band? 
– Mary S. (Waterloo, IA)

Thanks for noticing, Mary! We have both. You shouldn’t skimp when it comes to your health. By the way, Mark the drummer wants you to submit a photo of yourself. 

Thanks for the questions! Now on to the blog!..

We’re in the home stretch of our extensive tour of the East Coast. We are finishing it up with a brutal upper cut to middle America. The band has laughed and cried along the way. But more laughs than tears so… success! In Atlanta, I got to hang with a friend of mine from Music School. It was great except their house was like the Hot Zone. His wife and kid both had some mystery illness. I got out after 3 days largely unscathed. My friend is a New England transplant and seeing him trying to assimilate into the Deep South is sorta hilarious. Think the Sopranos meet Gone with the Wind.

Motels on the road are always an adventure. I’m working on a Bed Bug Rating System. But, unfortunately, it’s not quite done yet. I’ll keep you posted. In lieu of that, I thought it might be informative to share some actual comments and ratings on just one cozy hide-away we stayed at. This place was located in a town called Endwell, ironically enough. Although, we got out without a bed bug attack, so I guess it was an appropriate name after all. Anyway, here are the ratings/comments:

“Horrible and nasty.” 1 star
“First off, the room had bed bugs.” 1 star

Aaah…. Need I quote any further. This scores 5 on Mark’s Bed Bug Scale.

“Burn all your clothes after staying at this motel.” 1 star

God, these are better than I thought hehe! This review said he burned his clothes and shaved his body hair! Mark’s Bed Bug Scale scores this a 5 as well. The shaving thing bumped it up.

I think you get the idea. On a fun note while we stayed there I went for a run. In the process I got to see an old donut shop that was closed for asbestos removal. Mesothelioma Donuts… yum yum! Onward to Indianapolis.
Your faithful scribe,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Spring from GCO

Wassup Everyone!
GCO has started a blog. That's right, we're going to keep you up-to-date with the weekly goings-on in the life of a Newgrass Art-Rock band.

This is Lisi... I'm writing our first blog entry and you'll hear from the guys later on this month. I love that I'm sitting here writing this at 7:10 pm and it's still light out!! I'm definitely fond of light and heat! So, here's to spring and new endeavors!

Just yesterday, I had an interview with Jearlyn Steele on WCCO's "Center Stage". We'll post the interview when it's available. It went really well. Jearlyn was super cool and she asked some great questions. She also had a major thing for Mr. John Wright! That was pretty hilarious... "You're married to that fine bald man?!?". I sure am. He's definitely a stud! ;) It definitely made John feel good.

We're getting ready for the big DVD Release Concert this Saturday (at The Dakota - 8:00)!! Woohoo! It's going to feature all 5 of our short-films, both Gregg Allman's Liver commercials, outtakes and a mini-documentary on the making of "All Out of Peaches". Of course, you'll be able to see all of the behind the scenes jocularity between me and Mark. He's so mean to me! Does anyone else notice?

Can't wait to play Memo 9 again. I'm thinking that one is my fav from the new album. I like to tell myself that if Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart heard that song they'd say, "That was pretty cool!" Then they'd ask us if we want to go out to a nice restaurant with them and eat really fancy food and drink expensive wine and then they'd say, "No, no, we'll pay for this." Just take it off the top, boys! Then, they'd ask us to open for them the next time they played the Twin Cities, but on one condition... only if the fiddle player agrees to come up and play YYZ and Losing It with them. Hey, a girl can dream.
Next step: How do I get Rush to listen to the new GCO album?!? Anyone?

That's it for now. John and I are headed off to our favorite Indian restaurant for a nice dinner. India Palace - Burnsville - check it out.
See you on Saturday, peeps!
Thanks so much for all the GCO support!