Photo of Grupo Fantasma Texas dance band Grupo Fantasma will give two free concerts, one at the UC Davis campus and the other at the UC Davis Medical Center.

Grupo Fantasma comes to town with two free concerts!

Forget about chairs. Don't even think of sitting down when this band is in town. In fact, don't worry about any ticket prices, either. For a pair of shows at UC Davis — one on August 21 on the Quad on the Davis campus, and the other on August 22 on the lawn at 45th and X Streets at UC Davis Medical Center — that sizzling hot band Grupo Fantasma  will be rousting people to their feet for free.

Dubbed “one of the all-time great Texas dance bands,” the 11-man Latin band is considered by many to be the most exciting group to emerge from the formidable Austin, Texas music scene in the last couple of years. This summer, Grupo Fantasma is touring North America, playing music festivals, rock clubs, alternative music venues and the two dance concerts at UC Davis.

Enjoy both music and food

The evening concert, a first for UC Davis Health System, mirrors a new summer concert series offered on the Davis campus to highlight world music and performances at the Mondavi Center.

"Our Sacramento campus is so excited to host this energtic group of world-class performers," said Claire Pomeroy, vice chancellor for human health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine. "This concert provides a wonderful opportunity for our neighbors, families, friends and employees to pack a picnic and enjoy a fun, summer evening."

A variety of refreshments from the Courtyard Marriott's Bistro Biagio and the Original Orange Freeze Stand also will be available for purchase. These tasty treats and barbecued specialites include lamb and fruit kabobs, chicken satay, chili verde with tortillas, ceviche with crostini, hamburgers and hot dogs, and, of course, that Sacramento summer tradition, the orange freeze.

So get ready for some hot August nights. There will be dancing in the streets…or at least on the lawn near UC Davis Medical Center!

Who is Grupo Fantasma?

“We're a hybrid of Latin dance music from old school to new school,” explains primary songwriter and percussionist, Jose Galeano.

Galeano says it's a raucous group of musical wizards and characters, transforming traditional Latin styles of music with their skillful songwriting, inventive arrangements and exuberant live shows. They fuse Afro-Latin funk, cumbia, hip-hop, salsa, merengue and more into an intoxicating combination demands audiences to move.

Hailing from far-flung places such as New York City, Managua, Nicaragua, and Laredo, Texas, Fantasma consists of a versatile and talented cast of musicians that includes a double rhythm section and four-piece horn brigade. The band successfully obliterates the cliches that often plague the current Latin music market, all the while keeping their feet firmly planted in the traditions that they love and deeply respect.

Making a name for itself

Grupo Fantasma has been named the Austin Music Awards' Best Latin Contemporary Band for five years running, adding Best Horns in 2005. Their first eponymous album released in 2001 earned them spots on internationally distributed compilations, an NPR special, and the soundtrack to critically acclaimed director John Sayles' film, 'Casa de los Babys.'

Since their second release, the band has become even more adventurous, mixing styles in ways that are unexpected but ruled by the groove. A group of enthusiastic youngsters has grown into a monstrous and masterful ensemble that has sold more than 15,000 discs. Their chops and confidence continue to grow but the raw, boisterous attitude remains.

“Just flow. Dance how you want to dance,” Galeano urges. “If you don't dance to our music something is just not right. When in doubt,” he adds, “just follow the cowbell,” which is a sound Sacramentans are no doubt familiar with from the playoff days of the Kings.