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All Aboard the Grupo Fantasma Mothership

Adrian Quesada’s departure coincides with another offshoot

By Chase Hoffberger, 3:47PM, Tue. May. 14, 2013

The long view: Grupo Fantasma at last Saturday’s Pachanga Festival in Fiesta Gardens
The long view: Grupo Fantasma at last Saturday’s Pachanga Festival in Fiesta Gardens
photo by Jana Birchum

Wondering what the latest incarnation of Grupo Fantasma will look like now that founding guitarist Adrian Quesada has announced he’s left the brassy Latin big band? Aesthetically, at least, you can get your first take on Thursday.

Turku, a Turkish funk outfit comprised of Grupo Fantasma mainstays Greg Gonzalez, Beto Martinez, and percussionist John Speice – as well as newly minted Grupo member Gerardo Larios – debut at the Sahara Lounge that night. According to the show flyer, the quartet promises a psychedelic shift of arrangements from such Turkish luminaries as Erkin Koray and Bariş Manço.

Meanwhile, departing Grupo Fantasma member Quesada posted a lengthy statement last night to his Level One Studios Tumblr concerning his decision, thus alleviating concerns that any sort of rift led to his departure from the Grammy-winning local outfit:

“The split is 100 percent amicable and to go even further, they’re still my best homies. It’s simply a matter of personally closing one chapter and opening another one.

“Being in a band is a huge commitment, one that dictated most of the last decade for me. Now I want to focus my efforts on more studio work and producing as well as other projects I’m involved in.”

Quesada’s morphed into one of Austin’s busiest musicians over that last decade, playing a pivotal role in the development of his Latin-hued groups including the Echocentrics, Ocote Soul Sounds, and the newly minted Money Chicha, a sixpiece Grupo Fantasma offshoot that wowed a Pachanga crowd on Saturday and which just began work on a debut EP.

That’s all in addition to the work he’s been doing at Level One Studios, the production facility he runs in South Austin. An impressive roster of talent has rolled through of late, including White Denim, Camera Obscura, and League of Extraordinary G’z mastermind Reggie Coby.

Also, dude’s got two young kids who’d rather have daddy at home than on the road.

The guitarist stressed that his departure from Grupo bears no effect on his standing with Brownout – excellent news for the city’s Saturday nights. You can read the entirety of Quesada’s statement here.

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