‘Cowboy Orchestra’ to return

FAIRMONT – The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra are getting better acquainted with Fairmont.

The Minneapolis-based band was in town Monday for an educational concert at Fairmont Junior/Senior High School, sharing their eclectic art-rock/new-grass music with students, followed by a question-and-answer session.

The group then played an informal set at Woodland Manor assisted-living facility, delighting their listeners with the likes of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and a sing-a-long to “You Are My Sunshine.”

Their shows on Monday were made possible through the Opera House and Minnesota’s cultural heritage grant program.

For anyone who didn’t see The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra perform Monday, the group will be back March 8 to play the Fairmont Opera House.

Fiddler Lisi Wright has wowed local audiences before, as the fiddler for Mick Sterling’s 2012 Christmas show at Fairmont Opera House. While she sometimes performs with other bands, The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra is her musical home.

The Orchestra was formed in 2008 by bassist John Wright, who wanted to create “technically challenging, improvisation-based music.” The Wrights are joined by guitarist Dan Neale, a semi-regular on “A Prairie Home Companion,” and drummer Billy Thommes, who toured for years with blues artist Jonny Lang.

Starting out, The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra were an instrumental group, but now their act is about 50/50.

“We’ve found it’s been good to bring in vocals,” Lisi said. “People can relate well to vocals.”

Their set list varies by location, she explained, so in Colorado, for instance, their audiences want only original music. In the Midwest, however, people enjoy hearing a mix of new and old.

“We do recognizable covers to ground the audience, and then we like to take them on a little musical adventure,” she said, laughing.

As the band has played outstate Minnesota for its Arts Tour MN Tour, they’ve surveyed their audiences and been pleased by the positive feedback they’ve received. One fan they gained in rural Minnesota described their sound as “exciting, outside the box.”

That’s what Lisi likes to hear.

“I can’t even say what genre we are. We touch on all them. We’re just a band for people who really enjoy music,” she said.

The Opera House show will be 7:30 p.m. March 8. Tickets can be purchased online at www.fairmontoperahouse.com or by calling (507) 238-4900. Prices are $10 for students, $20 for adults.

For more information on the band, check out