In this week’s column, I’m going to start a series that will focus on some of the amazing musicians who live in the Hudson Valley, and occasionally, even play locally. My first choice of subjects is The Organiks, a terrific blues, roots, and countrified soul outfit, with an occasional nod to the jazz world, who, when they’re not on tour with some of the biggest names in the music business, make their homes right here as your neighbors.
The Organiks don’t really have a leader or stand-out star. What they do have is four such types, who have banded together in what used to be called a “supergroup”, and I don’t use that term lightly.
Keyboard player, Bruce Katz, is a classically trained Berklee graduate, but that doesn’t stop him from being down, dirty, and funky. He’s a master of the Hammond B-3 and piano, has been nominated three times for the prestigious Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year award, and counts Gregg Allman, John Hammond, and Pinetop himself, as fans. He’s a member of Gregg Allman’s touring band, and also tours with John Hammond and his own band, The Bruce Katz Band. Bruce is a former member of Ronnie Earl’s Broadcasters and has appeared on over 70 albums with Ronnie, John Hammond, Duke Robillard, Jimmy Witherspoon, Little Milton, Big Mama Thornton, David ‘Fathead’ Newman and many others. While with Ronnie Earl, their album, “Grateful Heart” won the Downbeat Critic’s Poll for Best Blues Album. Bruce occupies a unique space where blues, jazz, rock, soul and Americana collide.
If The Organiks do have a front man, I guess it would be Jay Collins. Jay plays all manner of saxes, mostly tenor, but also plays a bit of flute and is one of The Organiks two lead singers. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Jay now makes his home right here with us. He spent the 90’s in the East Village, immersing himself in the jazz and Latin scenes. He was invited to join Gregg Allman’s band, and in 2004, met Amy Helm, Levon’s daughter. The two were married three years later, so Levon, possessor of a sharp musical mind, invited Jay to play with him as well, which he now does. Jay has also toured with James Hunter and leads his own band, The Jay Collins Band.
If Jay’s the front man, then drummer Randy Ciarlante is The Organiks’ secret weapon. For my money, Randy is the best drummer in the Hudson Valley, but he’s also an amazing, soulful singer. He’s a veteran of The Band, The Honky Tonk Heroes, Eric Anderson’s band, and The Woodstock All-Stars, with Cindy Cashdollar and Larry Packer. Randy and Jay alternate lead vocals in The Organiks.
Finally, we have Chris Vitarello on guitar and vocals, an impeccable player who’s credits include stints with Arlen Roth and jazz legend, Jimmy McGriff.
All of these guys are, or could be, bandleaders themselves, but they’ve chosen to pool their talents into The Organiks, a band that is more than the sum of it’s parts, and it’s parts alone are pretty impressive. Now that you know who they are, you’ve got no excuse to not go see them when they play in your neck of the woods. Visit www.theorganiks.com for more info.
This week’s picks are few in number, but powerful in style and quality.
Friday, March 3 – LORETTA LYNN at UPAC in Kingston. The Queen of Country brings her timeless show into Kingston. Currently enjoying a revival, due to her pairing with Jack White as producer on her last album, this is a great time to catch up with Loretta, or check her out for the first time.
Saturday, March 5 – DAVE MASON at The Bearsville Theater. The co-founder of Traffic, and writer of such hits as “Feeling Alright” and “Only you Know and I Know”, Dave is also one of the greatest guitar players on the planet! I caught up with him a few years back in Las Vegas, and he was outstanding! Hopefully, he’ll be the same here.
Tueday, March 8 – DR. JOHN returns to Woodstock at The Bearsville Theater for a Fat Tuesday celebration of New Orleans music.
All of these shows are “can’t miss”, so I won’t be picking only one. Just make a cash withdrawal from your bank and attend all three. And for those of you who will be in NYC next week, it’s the start of The Allman Brothers’ annual March shows at The Beacon Theater, Further pulls into the city for an extended run, and Lucinda Williams pays us a visit as well, so get ready!