Players: Lisi Wright, electric violin, lead vocals; John Wright, bass guitar, vocals; Dan Neale, electric and acoustic guitars, vocals.
Material: The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra is a progressive music outfit that seamlessly blends rock, jazz, country and symphonic sounds like no other. Their mix of select covers and innovative originals truly raises the bar. Signature compositions like the grooving fusion-like “Dark Matter” and the intricate “Triple S” rise to the occasion. And then they up the ante with such gems as The Allman Brothers’ “Whippin’ Post,” “You Know, You Know” by The Mahavishnu Orchestra, and King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man.”
Musicianship: Hands down this unit is firing on all cylinders. The old adage of the sum being greater than the individual parts truly applies. Husband and wife team John and Lisi Wright, along with long-time guitarist Dan Neale, exchange melodies and solos like second nature. Often it’s difficult to discern lead lines from rhythms. There is a subconscious connection at play. Lisi is a first-tier violinist that has an equal facility with improvisation as well as ambient soundscapes. She’s also an emotive singer, with just the right amount of gruffness in her delivery. John deftly switches from plectrum to fingerstyle depending on what the tune calls for. Sans drummer, he holds it down, even strumming to add some additional rhythmic tension. Neale is a first-call guitarist in the vein of Chet Atkins or Leo Kottke. His integration of rock, jazz, and bluegrass licks in a single song is amazing.
Performance: It was a musical roller coaster ride from the get-go. They began with a legit country like “Wabash Cannonball” and that served as a jamming vehicle that ended in an Indian raga-like finale. Neale offered some solo acoustic finger-picking excellence on an instrumental called “Grandfather Clock.” They also played a number of new things off an upcoming album. One of those, “All For the Taking,” showcased Lisi’s clever wordplay and dynamic vocal range. A cool montage from Mahavishnu to King Crimson appeared in the latter part of their set. And then they pulled a fast one, with Neale providing a vocal lead on Jerry Reed’s comical barn burner “Lord Mr. Ford.”
Summary: The GCO is an extremely accomplished and versatile unit with an innate ability to take complex arrangements and keep them soulful and entertaining. They are a musical stimulus package that is edgy and a lot of fun.