By Kristi Kates
Galactic Sherpas has a history that runs deep in chaos and the
unforeseen, the bands Josh Hall chuckles, and has been an ever-changing
path of many musicians that have wandered in and out of Boyne City over
the past four years.
Hall, who had a house gig at 220 Lake Street back in the day, sent out
an open invitation for musicians to join him every week, with the theme
being improv, or gifts to the night, as Hall jokingly calls them,
because we never played those songs again.
A trip to Colorado for Hall and his original band, who were slated to
perform with Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon, unfortunately pulled the
band - such as it was - apart. The surviving members, namely Hall along
with Greg Mastin and Erik VanHorn, snagged pal Dan Brooks and formed the
Galactic Sherpas in the fall of 2008.
Each of us being songwriters, the music that transposed was heavily
meshed and greatly spoke to us as a band, Hall explains. After adding
several more members - Sara Fortier and Lara VanHorn on saxophones and Tim
Hawthorne on percussion - they began writing music as a band. Hall, a
guitar player, moved to keyboards as a new challenge, he says, and he
now sings in addition to playing guitar and pianos on stage. Mastin,
meanwhile, started on bass and now plays drums; VanHorn plays lead guitar
and sings; and Brooks handles bass duties and singing. With all of these
multi-talented folks, of course an album would be on the way soon.
FIRST ALBUM: OM
Recorded in spring of 2009, the Galactic Sherpas produced their debut set,
Om, with Dave Runyan at Runyan Media Studios in Bellaire, Michigan. It was
a fairly simple process for the well-rehearsed band.
We recorded the structure of the album in three sessions, Hall
explains, we all played at the same time, and Dave pressed record. He is
a genius at putting the music where it needed to be. We returned later
for synth parts, vocals and saxophones; it took six months to see a final
product, yet the recording only took up maybe seven or eight days.
The CDs first edition was released last Halloween (2009), and was limited
to only 100 handmade copies.
Each was individually signed and sealed with wax, bark, and string, Hall
says, we are part of the eco-friendly jam scene, and a band full of
artists, so it seemed to be more fun and interesting to do it this way. We
will probably do a second run right before this summer, although the hand
made part is still in question, he confirms.
DEADHEADS AND FRIENDS
As with most jam bands, of course the Grateful Dead is a big part of
Galactic Sherpas sound.
Starting out, what brought us together is that we are all Deadheads,
Hall says, we love them, and play a vast collection of their music
Other influences include Medeski Martin and Wood, Soulive, Phish,
Parliament, and Pink Floyd, according to Hall, who also says that they are
big fans of local music, which they strive to support.
Seize the Karp is our neighboring band, and most of us have played
together at one time, Hall explains, Charlies Root Fusion are also
friends of ours, and weve also enjoyed and played festivals with
Ultraviolet Hippopotamus as well as The Macpodz; and weve been fans and
friends of Steppin In It since they started.
Galactic Sherpas will likely have plenty of chances to run into their
jam-band friends this summer. Theyve got a plethora of festival shows
lined up, including Blissfest; the Peace Through Music Fest in Ohio;
Farmfest; the Free Music Festival in Freeland, MI; and Indianas Wuhnurth
Music Fest in September. Those who prefer to jam indoors can catch the
band at City Park Grill in Petoskey, and at Shorts Brewery in Bellaire.
And, says Hall, every night is set to be full of surprises.
Our philosophy is to have a wicked good time on stage and try to surprise
ourselves every night we play, he says, to look over at each other and
think, I cant believe he just did that. We like it when the audience
feels it as well, and we bounce back higher when theyre involved. We
started out full improv, yet we learned a lot of covers - hundreds really
- so we could play live and sneak our own music in more often each time.
Lately, we have actually turned back to improv in between the cover
tunes, so our style is jam band, funk and jazz all mixed together.
Hall says the band has gone through a lot the past five years, but remains
We have been working hard to get recognized beyond Northern Michigan, he
concludes, but we also love and are very proud of where we come from.
Galactic Sherpas can be found at
www.myspace.com/galacticsherpas, and their albums can be purchased at one
of their shows, or via the internet.