Galactic with MOFRO :: 06.20.04 :: Taste of Randolph Street :: Chicago, IL

After months of cold rain and snow, Chicago comes alive in the summer as the city's residents bring the party outdoors with numerous art fairs, carnivals, parades, and neighborhood music festivals.

One of the finest of these street fests is the Taste of Randolph Street, set in Chicago's funky Randolph Street corridor in the heart of the West Loop. The Randolph Street corridor is an eclectic and fast-growing neighborhood of restaurants, art galleries, nightclubs, and residential lofts all surrounded by Chicago's bustling commercial produce and meat markets. Dubbed "Restaurant Row," this area's eateries are widely acclaimed, and the three-day Taste of Randolph Street is a great chance to try an array of culinary treats ranging from fine steaks to some of the most outstanding sushi you'll eat in this city.

JJ Grey by The Kayceman
If the fine foods weren't enough, there was plenty of live music to go around as MOFRO took the stage on a beautiful, cool, and clear Sunday evening. After 15 years of playing together, the duo of John "JJ" Grey and Daryl Hance have tuned MOFRO into a well-oiled machine resonating with the soul, blues, and funk of northern Florida's deep piney swamplands. The bass skills of Fabrice Quentin, along with Mike Shapiro on the Rhodes and drummer Craig Barnette are an outstanding compliment to Grey's sultry harmonica and Hance's dobros and slide guitar. In addition to tunes off their current CD Blackwater, such as the saucy "Jukehouse," Grey led the band in a spine-tingling version of The Band's classic "Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" that fired the crowd up for another serving of the South's finest funk, Galactic

Stanton Moore by David Vann
As many know, Galactic has been joined on their current Freezestyle tour by San Francisco chanteuse Latrice Barnett. Ms. Barnett's smooth vocal talents lend a smoky quality to her duets with Theryl "Houseman" de Clouet, though her performance at times was barely audible over Robert Mercurio's bass lines due to technical difficulties. No worries for Ms. Barnett, who showed off her diva side with grand style and treated the audience to a raging, soulful cover of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love." This short set featured plenty of vocals, and Houseman's tour de force was a sultry version of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Miss Lover." Since the release of their latest CD Ruckus, Galactic's music has taken a turn with tighter performances and a more constructed sound. The interplay between Mercurio, drummer Stanton Moore, guitarist Jeff Raines, keyboardist Rich Vogel, and sax/harmonica player Ben Ellman on the Ruckus material is as funky as ever featuring a more sleek and streamlined sound. As night fell on the city, the band invited MOFRO's JJ Grey to lead the band in a sizzling encore of Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf," without a doubt the highlight of the night. Surely there's no better way to wrap a ribbon around a summer weekend than an outstanding evening of music, fine food, and beautiful city lights.

Both of these bands will be playing on Jam Cruise 3, which sets sail January 6-10, 2004.

Rachel Seeger
JamBase | Chicago
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[Published on: 6/29/04]

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