Grupo Fantasma heads to Grammys with four talented Texas State alums
By Billi London-Gray
For ten years, the Austin-based Latin funk orchestra Grupo Fantasma has been turning heads and earning accolades. With the talents of four Texas State grads, the group has received its second Grammy nomination.
Grupo’s 2010 album, El Existential, is nominated for the Best Latin Rock, Alternative or Urban Album Grammy. Their 2008 release, Sonidos Gold, was nominated for the same award. Texas State alumni Josh Levy, Kino Esparza, Matthew “Sweet Lou” Holmes and Gilbert Elorreaga are all full-time members of the 10-piece ensemble.
The four have known each other since their student days at Texas State. Levy, the group’s saxophone player, credits his college years with developing his musical skills the old-fashioned way: practice, practice, practice.
“My time in San Marcos was influential,” Levy says. “A variety of ensembles, hours of rehearsal daily, LOTS of practicing, sectionals, concerts, recruiting trips, innumerable gigs at Triple Crown – not to mention almost every other bar in town – it all added up to making me a better, more well-rounded player.”
Before he graduated in 2007 and before he became a member of the band, Levy admired Grupo Fantasma’s high-energy shows as a fan.
“I’ll never forget seeing Grupo Fantasma for the first time, five-ish years ago at what was then Lucy’s, and thinking, ‘I want to do THAT!’” Levy says. “Funny how things work out.”
Things certainly have been working out for Grupo Fantasma. When Levy received the call about the Grammy nomination for El Existential, he says he was stunned.
“I honestly didn’t believe it at first,” he says. “I had never entertained the idea of even one nomination, much less a second. Here’s hoping that we bring it home this time!”
The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards will be held in Los Angeles Feb. 13. Before heading west for the awards show, Grupo Fantasma will be playing Friday, Feb. 4, at Momo’s in Austin and Saturday, Feb. 5, at Bar 141 in San Marcos. For more information about the shows, click here.