DLO3 Bring the Funk to Your Soul

Funk band Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio joined KHOL at Treefort to discuss spontaneity, soul music in Seattle and the familial Colemine record label.
Bandleader Delvon Lamarr lets loose on his beloved Hammond B3 organ. (Jack Catlin/KHOL)

by | Oct 21, 2021 | Local Music, Music

 

The Seattle-based band Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio’s “feel good music” and exhilarating live experience is a force to be reckoned with. DLO3 played a blazing set full of funk, soul and crowd pleasing covers on the opening night of the recent Treefort Music Festival in Boise.

The band joined KHOL Music Director Jack Catlin hours before their set at the Olympic Theater to discuss their spontaneous approach to lives shows, the lineage of the soul music scene in Seattle and how it feels to be part of the Colemine record label’s family of musicians.

Listen above for more and check out a transcript of the interview below.

KnewJack: Alright, this is KnewJack, the music director at KHOL in Jackson, Wyoming, coming to you live from the Treefort Music Festival in Boise, Idaho. I’m here with Delvon Lamarr, Jimmy James and Dan Weiss of the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, also known as DLO3. For our listeners who are new to your music, can you tell us a little bit about the group and your sound?

Delvon Lamarr: We’re like a 60s and 70s kind of style vintage soul mixed with a little jazz, mixed with a little rock mixed with pretty much every genre on the planet. How we play? We always just call it feel good music because I mean, we cross so many genres. It’s like there is no category for it, really.

KnewJack: Well, I’ve been watching some live performance of you guys, and it’s like a really cool tripod or triangle with you two, Delvon and Jimmy kind of shredding and Dan holding it down with the pocket. And it’s like a really cool thing to see you guys interact live. How do you feel about your live performances? I know you guys do a lot of improv and it’s just kind of a spur of the moment spontaneous vibe.

Dan Weiss: Every night is different, which is cool. You can never go see the same DLO3 show like because everyone’s totally different, and we might touch on certain songs one night that we’ll never touch on again. So it’s like, Yeah, you never know what’s going to happen. I just try and sit there and listen and follow along and see how it goes. And usually ninety-five percent of the time, it goes pretty good.

Jimmy James: Yeah, we touch on it just like Delvon’s stomach is touching on my arm right now!

KnewJack: It is super intimate for the listeners in case you’re wondering. We’re all scrunched together here in the fern room. So we’re a community radio station based in Jackson Hole, and we love bringing new music from national acts like you guys to our listeners. Do you have a favorite hometown community radio station and what do you love about it?

Dan Weiss: Obviously, KEXP. I’ve lived in Seattle before I went back home to Reno. I recently just moved back up to Seattle. One of my favorite things about living there is just being able to put on the radio and listening to all the cool music that I hear through there, like just and even bands that I listen to that you would never hear on the radio anywhere else. And not to mention, I love that they show DLO3, like they play us a lot and we get a lot of fans that just follow that radio station that don’t even live in Seattle. So, yeah, definitely KEXP for me.

Delvon Lamarr: And yeah, there’s two that’s been huge supporters of ours and one is KEXP. They’ve been a huge supporter. Also, KNKX has been a huge supporter. You know, we did their in-studio sessions there that you can see onl YouTube as well. But those guys have always been a fan of ours and they’ve always treated us real nice. So yeah, give a shout out to KNKX as well.

KnewJack: So, when I was researching you guys, what blew my mind was that Del Van in front of me is 100 percent self-taught with influences like Jimmy Smith and Booker T. Just can you explain to me I’m curious, how is it possible for you to just pick up an instrument and know how to play it?

Delvon Lamarr: It’s kind of been that way, like my whole, most of my life, like even when I was in, like the first instrument I ever played was a baritone horn and how that came about, in junior high school you got to take an elective class. It was either cooking or guitar or piano, and I didn’t want to do any of those. So I ended up taking a guitar, and when I was in the band room, I asked the band teacher or I saw this horn on the floor and I was like, I lied to him. I said, I could play that. He was like “good, I’ll put you in band.” And then, you know, he put me in band and I picked that instrument up and I could play it like naturally.

KnewJack: That’s incredible. So are you and Jimmy and Dan? Are you all from musical families? Like, is it in your genes to want to play music or are you kind of guys the outliers and your families?

Jimmy James: My late grandmother was a singer and she won first to state in the choir in Texas. She was also in competition jitterbugger. My mother was in a group. She was a singer with her cousin and they were in a group called The Champelles. Her cousin’s late husband, directed them and actually he was in the first band with Jimi Hendrix. So my mother’s cousin and her husband both went to Garfield with Jimi Hendrix. So they knew him very well. She actually used to share her sandwich with him, actually. And then my late sisters, my oldest sister, used to play piano and flute, and then one time she did marching band for the Dallas Cowboys and then my other late sister. I’m the last one left. So she played drums, so she was supposed to play with Heart, Soundgarden and George Clinton and Indigo Girls, as I remember. So I used to hear her play that, I used to hear my mother singing around the house, stuff like that and listening to records and stuff. My mother was my biggest critic, you know, so she’s the one person who makes me nervous.

Delvon Lamarr: For me, my mom was a singer in church when we grew up. She also used to sing backup because she used to live in Chicago back in the 60s and 70s and she used to sing backup with Johnny Taylor. Like whenever Johnny Taylor would come to Chicago she was like hired to be a backup singer in that. That and my brother, he’s four years older than me. He’s always been into hip hop, like from the age of 15. So he used to buy all these vinyl records and like, do all the sampling and making beats and stuff like that. And then I got a couple of uncles. I got an uncle who was in a band called Unfinished Business, which I actually found on 45”. You can actually. I was meaning to buy it. I got to buy that. But yeah, his name is Walter Lee, he had a band unfinished business back in the 70s,

Jimmy James: Wait, why does that name sound so familiar? What was that music compilation in Seattle? Oh, The Wheedle’s Groove. Yeah, he was in that OK that, when you said unfinished business. I was like, wait a minute I’ve seen that name. Hmm.

Dan Weiss: Yeah, and I don’t come from a musical family like my parents just liked listening to music and going to shows and whatnot, and they noticed that I liked to beat on things. I was always lplaying drums when I was a kid, like on the counter, I’d pick up spoons. One of them had the crazy idea to get me a drum set, sort of giving me lessons. My dad grew up in in New York in the 50s and a bunch of like Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri were like family friends. So much so that Tito Puente was like the house band for my aunt’s wedding, like long before I was born. So, my dad kind of always had a Wheedle and like a Cabasa, like a couple like Latin percussion instruments. So I would like kind of have those and always like listen to the Latin music and like, play the Cabasa with it. But that was like the most extensive of like my parents being musical.

KnewJack: Myself, like countless others, unfairly thinks of Seattle and just thinks of like the grunge movement in the 90s and indie rock. Can you guys — I mean, you just touched on it with your families and previous generations. — but like, can you tell me about the lineage of the soul jazz funk scene in Seattle, Washington?

Jimmy James: There’s like, what’s her name? I always forget her last name, but she was the choir director for Total Experience, a gospel choir. So she had a couple singles out there. Again, my mother was in a group. They, you know, they sang behind different people there. Their competition was a group called The Passions, you know, and they used to play at the the Black and Tan and places like that. And I mean, you had like those underground soul scenes going on, you know, there’s different groups. If you go look at The Wheedle’s Groove, it’ll tell you like even Kenny G. Believe it or not, was in a funk band.

Delvon Lamarr: Man, he was killing it on that track too!

KnewJack: Did he shred?

Jimmy James: Yeah he did. You know he went to, he went to Franklin.

Delvon Lamarr: I think he was 19 in that recording too, killing it, still playing soprano.

Jimmy James: There’s like Herman Brown and his brother, Coleman Brown, who I, you know, Coleman Brown used to actually let me play in the clubs when I wasn’t of age. I shouldn’t say that, but Herman Brown ended up playing for Motown when they moved to L.A., you know? And so there was a lot of it. It wasn’t as big, but it was there, you know? And I mean, you had groups like out of Tacoma and stuff like that. And you know, Hendrix was involved playing a group like places like the East Side Hall and stuff like that and his group, The Rockin Kings, or the Velvetones they played in those sort of situations where they would play stuff by The Coasters and, you know, the popular Top 40 hits of the day, you know, I mean, that’s a long lineage there, you know?

KnewJack: It’s really cool to look back at, you know, the people that influenced, inspired you guys, that’s great.

Jimmy James: You know, soul music. I mean, when you think about soul music and where it came from, it came from the [Black] church, you know, I mean, everybody from Sam Cooke to Aretha Franklin to The Godfather of Soul, all those people sang in church, you know, and that’s where it came from. So, you know, depends on where you go and stuff like that. But I’ve been around gospel singers, so naturally you hear that stuff.

KnewJack: So, you guys are really awesome at covering classic songs in your own unique way. Like George Michael’s “Careless Whisper, Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up”,  Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” and Isaac Hayes’ “Walk On By.” What is your process for choosing a song to cover, and how do you typically approach the performance?

Delvon Lamarr: Whatever Jimmy James throws out.

KnewJack: Are you the originator?

Delvon Lamarr: Seriously like every time, almost every cover we play, you started it at at some point and I’d be like, yeah, I kind of know that.

Jimmy James: Yeah, it was just like careless whisper. It was just like, I don’t know, because I used to hear it, my older sister used to play it. I used to hear that song and I loved that song, and I remember coming back to it here and I was like, Man, I love this, so I just started playing it. And then he picked up, and then Amy was like, y’all should record that, you know, and stuff like that.

Delvon Lamarr: What’s funny about that is I didn’t want to record it like, you know, it’s one of those things we do live. And I said, we should probably just keep it live. I don’t know if anybody want to hear that, but she was just like, Dude, just record it. It is going to be great. And so we did. And people love it. I didn’t see that coming. I just thought, Yeah, maybe it’s just one of those songs you just play live. You know, it’s

Jimmy James: It’s funny because the saxophone players are like, Oh, really? Because it’s a saxophone player tune

Delvon Lamarr: You can’t get a saxophone player to play that for nothing.

Jimmy James: It’s like it’s the same way as getting a guitar player at Guitar Center. And as soon as you play Stairway to Heaven, they’re just like, Oh, not like that. So it’s kind of like that for a saxophone player. So every now and again, if I see a saxophone player, I’m like…

Delvon Lamarr: We’ve had like maybe two people over the history of this band that have actually played it. Yeah. And we’ve asked a lot. Yeah.

KnewJack: So, your love of improvisation, I read in an interview that you do name that tune during your shows, often creating songs on stage in the middle of gigs. You’ve recorded two things that I wanted to touch on. “Raymond Brings The Greens”. You have that Nirvana covering David Bowie lick in there for a four bar, I think, I love that. I’m sure that Jimmy’s doing. And then the latest release “Cold As Weiss” has the “Juicy Fruit” break on it, which is amazing, shout out to Mtume. Can you guys talk about those two? It seems like you just had a lot of fun doing that together.

Delvon Lamarr: As far as “Raymond brings the Greens?” Somebody doesn’t like that tune.

Dan Weiss: He hates it.

Delvon Lamarr: He hates it. And I don’t know why.

Dan Weiss: He says he hates it, but he’s like, He’s like, Man, I hate this. And he’s like already grabbing his other guitar and like, he’s like, I guess I’ll play this one.

Jimmy James: Here’s the thing. I just because I thought when I was playing, I was just like, it wasn’t like anyone else playing. So it’s just like, it’s just like Delvon’s favorite song is “Between The Mustard & The Mayo”. See, see how it goes. He could talk about me. I could go there with that. That’s different. But no, it’s not different. But like, it happens. But I will tell you the riff was fun because we were in the middle of the tune and I don’t know why. I just like I remember hearing Nirvana cover David Bowie. You know, The Man Who Sold The World and I used to love that version that Kurt Cobain and the whole crew played on their Unplugged ,1994 Unplugged. And so it just happened. It was just like, I was like, Oh, I don’t know, just slip it in there, you know?

Dan Weiss: I love playing that one live because every time we do it and he takes a solo, he always goes into Jimi Hendrix. He goes into it every time. And that’s like my favorite part of the song. And it’s like, Yeah, I love playing that. Cold As Weiss we were just playing. I was just playing a beat, basically, and Delvon kind of started playing along to it. And then, all right, let’s do a drum break right there. And I was like, I’ve always wanted to throw the “Juicy Fruit” break in somewhere, so I’ll do it there. So I know I threw in the juicy fruit and they are not too many, like every once in a while, like we’ll play it at a show and like I’ll kind of like scan the crowd and I’ll see like one, one or two people that are like “Mtume!”, like they know. But surprisingly, it kind of goes over people’s heads sometimes.

KnewJack: That is surprising, shout to Biggie Smalls for that one. So what is it like being part of the Colemine record label family? I love getting all of their stuff and of course, I was geeked when I got your guyy’ stuff. The whole record label family seems like an organic, funky musical movement with a diverse cast of characters like Orgone, Durand Jones and The Indications, Black Pumas, Young Gun Silver Fox, Black Market Brass. How does it feel to be a part of this really cool record label, putting out bulletproof stuff every time they release something?

Jimmy James: I was just saying like, you know, like Kelly and them are down here. We we did. We did a tune from Durand Jones. We actually we haven’t, we haven’t put it out yet but Aaron Frazer, he heard us do “Is It Any Wonder?”

Delvon Lamarr: Yeah, we covered that

Jimmy James: And he actually messaged me, he’s like, He’s like, ‘Man I just heard that song, when are you guys gonna release that?” I love it. And it’s like, because we always talked about how much we love that song. So, you know, but I mean, it’s a great crew of people, you know, it’s like just so many acts.

Delvon Lamarr: It is like a family. Like, we’ve become friends with some of those guys. And funny because speaking of Durand Jones, we just happened to end up in Hamburg, Germany, and Durand Jones was playing with another band, a friend of ours is The Dip. It was Durand Jones and The Dip, and then we just happened to be there. So we came out to the show. We sat in with those guys and it was, yeah, it was fun, man. It’s straight up like a family like we we’ve gotten pretty close with some of the artists on the label and just Terry Cole and Bob Cole. Those guys run it over there and, you know, they’re outstanding. Super cool, dudes.

Dan Weiss: You can tell that they really care about the product that they put out and it’s like you’re saying anything that’s going to come out on Colemine records. You could probably pick it up and you’d like it, it’s always really good. It’s nice like seeing all the other bands that are on the label selling out of their records every time they’re released and Colemine did the compilation over the pandemic called Better Days Ahead and that hit number one on Billboard. And so it’s really cool to see, like as a collective, the label have cool milestones like having number one records on Billboard. Like, that’s pretty freakin cool, and they’re doing it on the regular, it seems like. So it’s it’s definitely an honor to be included in that group.

KnewJack: So, who’s your favorite artist you’ve discovered during the pandemic and how did you guys process everything that was going on?

Delvon Lamarr: Well I spent a lot of time trying to find artists that I’ve never heard of before. I kind of went back to my jazz roots, so I’ve been listening to a lot of straight ahead bebop and big band stuff. I came across this cat, I kind of heard of him. His name is Joe Wilder, trumpet player, and I think he was either in the Count Basie band or Duke Ellington, one of those bands. His style is sick because you can tell it’s like the big band influence, but the way he plays and it’s just a quartet setting. Yeah, I was like, super stoked on that. So I’ve been trying to find things like that, like stuff that you don’t hear very often or don’t hear at all of people you never heard of. You know, that was my whole focus.

KnewJack: Yeah, that was kind of one of the silver linings is you had the time to really dig and, you know, discover stuff and not just like, skim through it like you usually have to do, but actually like put on a record and just sit there and listen to it. So Jimmy, did you have any particular artist you discovered?

Jimmy James: I mean I’ve been listening to Khruangbin? But I’ve been listening for a long time. I like Marc Speer, you know, really dig how he plays.  I think part of that had something to do with influencing my guitar part on “Cold As Weiss”, you know, because some people said that. And the other thing is, I like to find like unreleased outtakes, you know, like finding Otis Redding’s, “Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay” and there’s like two or three outtakes where you hear the mistakes and all. I like to find the James Jamerson isolated bass tracks. Motown, you know, unreleased tracks. I just like to listen to the studio chatter and hear how the song came about. Why did it sound the way it sounded reading the story of how it came about. Just listening to where the fade out would be. But then you find out the band is still jamming or they, you know, listen to, you know, “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing” you hear Tammi Terrell say, “Oh, are we going to have to do it again? We messed up” OK, you know, stuff like that, you know?

KnewJack: Yeah they had this like perfect image of Motown, but you know, they got down and dirty and jamming for, like 10 minutes straight.

Jimmy James: Yeah. And i was just listening to one of my friends. I’m not going to say who he is, but he serves

Delvon Lamarr: James Jamerson’s cousin?!

Jimmy James: No, no. But I did talk to I did actually talk to James Jamerson’s cousin actually on the phone. But my friend sent me some guitar tracks from the Supremes version of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. But I can’t share those with nobody. I have to keep those to myself.

Dan Weiss: I discovered this dude named Pachyman

KnewJack: I love Pachyman.

Dan Weiss: Yeah, he’s I’m really into like old school Ska, Rocksteady, Dub. But like specifically from like the 60s and 70s era. Like Linval Thompson, King Tubby, Augustus Pablo, my favorite music. So Pachyman, like just released his new record on, I think it’s ATO records and it’s great and he’s got all these really cool videos where it’s like he’s like a one man band, so it shows him like playing all the parts and then it shows him sitting at the control like dubbing everything out. So, yeah, I really got into that dude over there over the course of the pandemic.

You can hear Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio’s music during our new music mix that airs every weekday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. I’m Jack Catlin and this is KHOL Jackson.

Support for this coverage is made possible by the Wyoming Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

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About Jack Catlin

Jack is KHOL's music director. He says all music is in some way connected no matter the style and his mission is to provide listeners with a unique and memorable experience each time they tune in to KHOL or see him DJ live.

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