And a funky New Year’s
Percussion-heavy Orgone rings in the new year in Chico
Lost On Main319 Main St.
Chico, CA 95928
L.A.-based funk/jam crew Orgone first made good friends with Chico in July of 2010, and this New Year’s Eve the band is coming back to town to party at the splendiferous downtown nightclub, Lost on Main.
“It went so well,” said Orgone guitarist Sergio Rios of the first visit, which included some mid-summer swimming at Comanche Creek. “It was a great show and mention was made off the cuff that night about New Year’s. Following a lot of love and sweat we made in Chico, the offer came in and it was immediate—[we’ll] ring in the new year there.”
Stage-tested local bohemian jammer Doug Stein and his improvisational Swamp Zen band mates are slated to open the festivities at the 400-capacity club.
After sharing the stage with diverse acts such as Al Green, Sharon Jones, Gil Scott-Heron, Ozomatli and The Roots, and contributing to recordings by Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson and others, Orgone will make this special Chico pit stop before embarking on a national winter tour with Santa Barbara reggae outfit Rebelution.
Like the original term “orgone,” penned 75 years ago by psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, who built upon a Sigmund Freud concept of trying to come up with a term to describe “a universal life force,” this nine-piece group fuses a litany of styles into one powerful musical life force. About half of its offerings are complex, funky instrumentals and the rest feature the band’s secret weapon, Fanny Franklin. Out in front of all of the beats, horns and riffs stands Franklin, a woman with an uncanny retro-soul voice of smooth texture that American Idol wishes would hit its stage.
“She’s a powerhouse in a little package,” Rios said. “She brings genuine soul singing and makes a great connection with the audience; during the instrumental aspects she brings a really sexy vibe dancing on stage.”
Rios and Orgone co-founder Dan Hastie (keyboards) were speaking right after their soundcheck and right before taking the stage at a recent gig with Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe in Flagstaff, Ariz. Rios and Hastie were part of the nucleus that, along with a horn trio, evolved into Orgone’s original five-piece around 2000.
“Sergio and I have been playing together since high school, about half our lives” Hastie said. “We grew up in the same area of L.A.—Canoga Park in the valley. We started doing the funk thing in the early ’90s.”
Orgone takes its home-grown L.A. sounds and provides a funk-soul fusion that evolves into a melting pot of simmering ingredients from such diverse locales as New Orleans, Brazil, Africa and New York City.
“We play the stuff we grew up listening to; it’s a variety of stuff,” Hastie said. “It all seeps in. It’s stuff that you feel, from The Meters to P. Funk from Nigerian music to afro-funk stuff. Anything percussion-heavy.”
Orgone expanded to include Franklin in the mid-2000s, after the boys in the band witnessed a jaw-dropping vocal performance she displayed with DaKAH, a 30-piece hip-hop orchestra with which she still remains active.
Interestingly, the band’s first single with Franklin, a remake of the reggae classic “Funky Nassau,” caught the attention of executives at Adidas.
“Adidas is one of the things that helped put us on the map,” Rios said. “One of our early 45s was a remake of ‘Funky Nassau,’ and the B-side was ‘Kama Sutra,’ and they used that for an ad campaign. But really, we wear K-Swiss.”
Rios and Hastie said the Chico party will include live jams from the band’s current Cali Fever, as well as a couple of covers. “And we are planning some special surprises,” Rios said.
Asked to describe examples of songs from Cali Fever that have adapted well to the live stage, Rios needed little time to ponder.
“There’s ‘Doin’ Me Wrong,’” he said. “Fanny can really wail on it. It’s a soul song; all the girls really connect with that. And there’s ‘It’s Time Tonight,’ the single. Its upbeat four-on-the-floor beat is more stretched out and vibed out and we play that longer live.”
So, one year after funking up the Warfield in San Francisco on the eve of a new decade, this year it’s Chico’s turn to tap into Orgone’s life force.