Every week, KEXP features a new local artist with an interview and suggested tracks for where to start. Today’s post features the vibrant soul of Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, performing in the KEXP Gathering Space at FolkLife on May 26 at 3 p.m.
It's hard not to start moving once Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio hit the stage. Their blend of soul and jazz is absolutely infectious – we were able to witness first hand recently when they played our Upstream broadcast. With just three musicians on stage, they fill the whole room with tantalizing grooves and vibrant jam sessions. We caught up with the band to learn more about their inception, embracing improvisation, and building community through music.
When did you first start playing the Hammond Organ and what drew you to the instrument?
A: I was about 22 years old. Back then I was playing trumpet & drums. I ended up getting a call to play drums with organist Joe Doria and guitarist Dan Heck at the Art Bar. I was fascinated watching Joe play the organ. I remember when I was young in church the pastor's wife played organ but I never really payed attention to it. One day a drummer comes and sits in and I asked Joe if I could play the organ and he said, "Yeah, if you can." So I sat down and we played a blues and I played the organ like I’ve been playing it all along. Pedals and all. I pretty much learned how to play organ by watching Joe do it every week. So right then, I wanted to play the Hammond.Your songs feel massive, especially with a trio. What do you attest most to your grand and lush sound?
We get lots of compliments on how big our sound is. I think it has a lot to do with the way we all play. Jimmy plays exactly what fits the music at all times. David keeps the pocket deep and strong to the point Jimmy & I can do anything musically and that pocket will still be there. We have a really strong chemistry not only in music but in life as well. It's almost like we're all thinking of the same things at the same time. So that makes us play with a certain intensity & feeling without fear of what's going to happen. I know whatever I do David & Jimmy will have my back and I theirs.
Lots of your songs feel like jams that you could groove along to for hours. How do you develop structure and know when it’s the right time to end a song? Do you do a lot of improvisation?
We do lots of improvising. Sometimes we will start with a song then we'll modulate keys and play a different song. Or we'll modulate keys and keep playing the same song. That's the jazz side of what we do. We are completely spontaneous which makes every show of ours different. We never plan what we're going to do. We just feel it & that's what make us really unique. We are always communicating & listening to each other. That's how we know what to do next. (IF You're NOT LISTENING TO EACH OTHER, You're NOT PLAYING TOGETHER)
During your set you mentioned your song “Tacoma Black Party” coming out of people misunderstanding your wife announcing the Tacoma Block Party. Do you regularly play community events and, if so, what value do you think they can add to the music community?
My wife/manager Amy Novo is very active and passionate about booking shows for us that expands our shows from big stages, tours, community, fundraisers, block parties, all ages, etc... She's very big on showing how we are a band that can play on a big stage and at the same time be able to play a spontaneous gig on Alki Beach (yes she got us to drag the Hammond B3 organ out to Alki and played for people passing by). She's definitely all about community, fans, intimate experience broadening and not limiting our playing to just the standard music scene. The biggest benefit to doing block parties & stuff like that is that not everybody is able to go out at night to catch shows due to work, kids, life, etc... There's not a lot of all ages venues around. So Amy brings our shows to all of the people adult, minors, babies, etc... at their convenience. What makes Amy great is that she brings not only music but art in general and the community together.
You all also perform with The True Loves as well. How do your performances differentiate between a DLO3 set or collaborating with another artist?
David McGraw is the founder of the True Loves. I'm actually not an official member of the True Loves but I do lots of work with them. DLO3 and the True Loves has a completely different sound from one another. DLO3 is soul music with a strong jazz influence. The True Loves is pure soul. What's really cool is the True Loves covers some of DLO3 originals & DLO3 covers some True Loves tunes. I love hearing their interpretation of my original tunes. Sometimes as a song writer I hear my work in a certain & specific way. Then I hear other bands like The True Loves play it and put there spin on it, it's really nice to hear how they hear it.
What can newcomers to your band expect from your FolkLife set?
DLO3 plays music that speaks to the soul & intellect of the listener. So brace yourselves for a passionate, heart felt, mind boggling, intense musical experience you will never forget.
Guitarist Jimmy James of the True Loves and Delvon Lamarr Trio talks about his musical influences, and how music breaks through the language barrier and brings people together.
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