In 1990, two childhood friends from Chevy Chase, Md., guitarist Jeff Raines and bassist Robert Mercurio, moved to New Orleans to attend university. During college, they fell in love with the local funk, jazz and R&B scenes and looked to form their own band.

In New Orleans, they hooked up with organist Richard Vogel, saxophonists Ben Ellman and Jason Mingledorff, drummer Stanton Moore and vocalist Theryl DeClouet, a.k.a. House Man. They called themselves Galactic.

Drawing upon the vibrant traditions of New Orleans, they’ve built a loyal following with their brand of funk, jazz, rock and electronic music, with influences from legends like The Meters and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

The band parted ways with their vocalist in 2004 due to health issues, and they continued as an instrumental group with high-profile guest vocalists like Irma Thomas, Trombone Shorty and Glen David Andrews. Galactic has been releasing albums and touring consistently since 1996.

Robert Mercurio joined us in the Gumbo Kitchen for a chat.