Off the Record
By Austin Powell, Fri., Aug. 31, 2007
Grupo Fantasma finally returns to Austin after a successful West Coast tour and a European vacation, during which they recorded a BBC Radio session and opened for Prince at the O2 Arena. "It was ridiculous," recalls guitarist Adrian Quesada. "We played in front of 20,000 people on the symbol stage he used for the Super Bowl, and he brought us back out for the 'Get on the Boat' encore." The experience taught the local 11-member Latin ensemble an important lesson about the value of discipline. "There were no distractions," Quesada says. "We rehearsed with him for a week straight in L.A. He literally tore the band apart and brought us back together the way he wanted us to sound. It's crazy, because he can jump on every instrument and show you what to do." Grupo comes alive on Saturday for Bob Schneider's second annual Labor of Love Festival, benefiting the Heartgift Foundation, and Sunday for the last installment in KGSR's free summer showcase at the Lakeway Resort and Spa. As if that weren't enough, Fantasma's instrumental side project, Brownout, which Quesada likens to Prince's afterparty funk jams, finally drops its debut, Homenaje, courtesy of the UK's Freestyle Records, next Friday at the Mohawk. Ocote Soul Sounds, Quesada's collaboration with Antibalas' Martín Perna, is set to appear at the ACL Festival in preparation for the November release of The Alchemist Manifesto. "Things are a little too crazy right now," Quesada reckons, "but it all balances out."