Galactic kicks off concert series

— Having funked up the stages of such see-and-be-seen venues as New York's avant garde Knitting Factory, the New Orleans JazzFest and last month's first-ever Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee, Galactic played for free last night in front of a less known but just as grateful Howelsen Hill audience.

The show kicked off Steamboat's 2002 summer free concert series with music that represents what jazz could be, should be and will be when the musicians of that genre move away from the old standards and loosen up.

Parking attendants corralled rodeo fans to the left and fans of distorted, sweaty sound New Orleans to the right. The crowd was sparse at 5:30 p.m. for opening band Ray's Music Exchange.

The first fans danced on the backs of grasshoppers and tried to ignore the salmon-colored light filtering through a foreboding layer of distant smoke.

When Galactic took the stage, the crowd swelled as if riding in on the sound of the horns section.

The beer line grew until only the most dedicated joined the end.

The bathroom line became as cutthroat as if fans were in New Orleans itself.

It seemed as if the entire town of Steamboat was there, dancing up a cloud of drought dust.

Galactic played until sunset to strollers, summer injury crutches, workmates and old friends, and it was just the beginning.

The summer concert series continues on July 25 with The Radiators at Headwall, followed by Little Feat Aug. 8 at Howelsen Hill and Michelle Shocked on Aug. 22 at Headwall. All shows start at 5:30 p.m. and are sponsored by the city of Steamboat Springs.

To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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