NOLA’s Galactic’s love affair with Crystal Bay continues March 25

Tahoe Onstage

Galactic ascends to outerspace with more than 700 friends in the Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room.
Tahoe Onstage photo by Larry Sabo

When it tours, Galactic most always schedules Lake Tahoe’s gem, the Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room.

The powerful New Orleans band will be back in the Crown Room on March 25, near the end of a more than six-weeklong winter tour. It won’t be the smallest venue it plays – that distinction is the 165-capacity Knotty Pine Supper Club in Victor, Idaho — but it is one of the smaller ones. It’s also a favorite for the band members.

“It’s just kind of fun in the middle of a tour to play a smaller room,” bassist Robert Mercurio said. “You play in all these big rooms and then you just play a tiny little club and it brings you back in a good way.”

Tahoe Onstage

Bassist Robert Mercurio is a founding member of Galactic.

Mercurio and Galactic drummer Stanton Moore also will play in the 750-capacity Crown Room on Wednesday, Nov. 29, with Dragon Smoke, along with Dumpstaphunk’s Ivan Neville and Folsom, Louisiana, guitarist-songwriter Eric Lindell. Dragon Smoke rarely plays outside of New Orleans, but this will be its third Crystal Bay appearance.

The New Orleans-Crystal Bay connection is as sweet as a beignet dessert. In the last year, the North Shore casino has presented NOLA-based Rebirth Brass Band, The Nth Power, Flow Tribe, Anders Osborne and Big Sam’s Funky Nation.

Mercurio has frequented Tahoe enough to build friendships. He hosted a bass workshop at Split Rock Music in Truckee and mingles with concertgoers before and after Crystal Bay Casino shows.

“Tahoe has a really great community of musicians and they always do those after-shows at the Red Room,” Mercurio said. “I tend to go out and see the show and I always end up meeting people and seeing old friends and so I get to see the community a lot more than some other cities.”

Upon graduating high school, Washington, D.C. natives Mercurio and guitarist Jeff Raines moved to New Orleans. They started Galactic more than 20 years ago. Mercurio said the band took off when the drummer Moore joined.

Tahoe Onstage

Erica Falls and Galactic will fill the Crown Room this winter.
Larry Sabo / Tahoe Onstage

While Galactic has a syncopated New Orleans sound, it constantly explores new areas, including, for a while, hip-hop. There have been several singers, including Cory Glover, Cyril Neville and Maggie Koerner. The 2015 album, “Into The Deep,” featured vocalists Macy Gray, Mavis Staples and J.J. Grey. When Glover elected to devote more time to his band Living Color, Erica Falls moved into the role touring lead vocalist.

“Even though we’ve been known to go on tour with different vocalists over the last 10 years, it was always very organic the way people would come and go,” Mecurio said. “Erica has a solo thing going on, but she’s willing to put us in a priority situation.”

Falls sings on a Galactic song “Hold On To Let Go,” which Mecurio said will be included on a new record.

“We are about halfway through the album with a few different special guests, one being Erica Falls, Mercurio said. “We hope to have it out by this summer.”

-Tim Parsons

Related story: Dragon Smoke wafts into the Crown Room.

  • Galactic
    Opener: tba
    When: 9 p.m. Sunday, March 25
    Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
    Tickets: $30
    After-party: High & Mighty Brass Band

About Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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