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The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra (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. They’ve been dubbed the bastard sons (and daughter!) of Rush and Ralph Stanley.
GCO has been busy touring all over the Midwest, East Coast and Southeast, with performances at: Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival (Pittsboro, NC), MN State Fair, Rock Bend Folk Festival (St. Peter), and Brookings Summer Arts Festival (Brookings, SD). They do it all in a teeny minivan with a SPACE Trailer (look it up, they exist!) and a completely awesome pupper named Nicko (click the name for a pic, he’s SUPER cute!).
How it all began: Bassist, John Wright, started the band in 2008. He wanted to create technically challenging, improvisation-based music and started jamming with guitarist, Dan Neale. Violinist Lisi nudged her way in after hearing 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 a band!
Dan Neale – Guitar – Dan Neale is one of the Twin Cities’ most adored pickers. He has played with Bo Diddley and has performed as a guest artist and a fill-in for Pat Donohue on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” He also performed with Chuck Leavell (keyboard player, The Rolling Stones), Hutch Hutchinson (bass player, Bonnie Raitt) and Kenny Arnoff (drummer, John Mellencamp) in the 50th Anniversary Buddy Holly Tribute, backing such greats as Graham Nash and Wanda Jackson.
Lisi Wright – Fiddle – Lisi started fiddling in 2005. Her background spans the genres of classical, country, bluegrass and rock. She played in Martin Zellar & The Hardways for two years, starting in '06, and has played with Mick Sterling, Kevin Bowe and Alison Scott and can currently be seen performing in Mick Sterling's AT CHRISTMAS. Lisi, aka Elisa, is the founder/president of New Folk Booking. Lisi is endorsed by Bridge Violins.
John Wright – Bass – John Wright first made his mark in the Minnesota Music scene in 1989 where his versatility on the bass found him onstage with Pop Fusion/New Age guitarist Billy McLaughlin as well as his own Progressive rock band US, who's debut recording made the cover of the College Music Journal. As the years ensued John found himself in many different musical environment's from Blues and Soul legend Mick Sterling to a four year run with Minnesota Pop star Tim Mahoney. In 1999, he found time to form the critically acclaimed Celtic/American Folk-Rock trio Lehto and Wright, still active to this day. Concurrent to his live performances, John has developed his skills as a recording engineer/producer with over 75 full length CDs and countless other sessions on his resume, making him a in-demand producer in Minnesota and beyond. He is the founder of The Villa Recording Studio in Savage, MN.
Billy Thommes – Drums/Percussion – From his humble beginnings playing in bar bands all over the Upper Midwest, to performing in front of thousands in theaters, arenas and stadiums all over the world, Billy has truly covered the spectrum as a performing drummer. Hard rock to blues, jazz to soul/funk, reggae to country, Billy's rock solid versatility is his calling card. With one gig leading to the next, his talents eventually led him to an 8 year stint with Blues prodigy, Jonny Lang. A heavy touring schedule ensued, performing to packed houses internationally, numerous TV appearances, as well as opening for the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Sting, BB King, and many other legends. This eventually lead to work with other artists, including Soul Asylum, The Honeydogs, and Peter Himmelman and now The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra. Billy is endorsed by Sabien Cymbals.