Hammond Organ Takes Center Stage at Weekly Funk Jam

A rare 1950 Hammond C3 organ anchors a new weekly funk-soul jam at Rosie O'Grady's

If you head into Normal Heights' long-time watering hole Rosie O'Grady's on an upcoming Tuesday night, chances are excellent that you'll have a funky good time. A few of San Diego's most-wanted soul/funk/jazz musicians (from bands such as the Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, Jake Najor & the Moment of Truth, Elektric Voodoo and Chief Nasty) have banded together for Adams Gone Funky -- a weekly funk series taking place every Tuesday night at the pub/venue from 8-11 p.m.

The brainchild of Rosie O'Grady's owner Jason Rammelsberg and Sure Fire Soul Ensemble organ player Tim Felten, the residency is an all-star showcase for some of the local scene's best players.

"The house band is Jake Najor on drums; Travis Klein on guitar, sax and flute; Ricky Giordano and Chris Duvall are switching off on bass duties every other week; and I'm on the organ," Felten told SoundDiego.

"We also have regular subs like David Carano on guitar and bass, and Chris Canciellierre on drums. We have a great house band, but the excellent musicians who come out and sit in with us every week really help us take the music to the next level. It's awesome to link with so many great musicians who I wouldn't otherwise play with each week!"

While getting all these great players in one place at the same time is cause for celebration alone, there's a particularly special ingredient that makes each show a must-see event: An in-house 1950 Hammond C3 organ, paired with a mid-'60s Leslie 145 speaker cabinet. If that all sounds like a bunch of nonsensical musician jargon, well, let's just say you've most definitely heard the magical sounds of these two pieces of gear (both of which take an entire squad of folks to move around) all over your favorite records.

"The Hammond organ, especially the A, B, and C series, are some of the finest American built instruments/machines in existence," Felten explained. "Not to mention the sound -- it is really otherworldly and synonymous with my styles that are rooted in the '60s/'70s such as funk, soul, rock & roll, reggae, Americana, etc."

Similar to its hefty transportation needs, it apparently took a village to procure the vintage instrument (made famous by Booker T. Jones, Jimmy Smith, and Billy Preston among countless others) as well.

"This organ is 70 years old and runs like it's brand new. That is thanks in part to our investment partner/repair guy Paul Spees, who really knows these instruments inside and out. Also involved in this organ investment are San Diego Padres organist, Bobby Cressey, and stand-out jazz musician Ed Kornhauser."

You've heard the Commodores' funk classic "Brick House," right? Well, theoretically, that song could've very well been written about moving a Hammond C3 (roughly 450lbs) and a vintage Leslie speaker cabinet (140lbs) around. The two make for a formidable duo, not just in sound, but in weight and physical space. In fact, Felten had to make sure Rosie O'Grady's could actually accommodate the instruments' sizable dimensions.

"I asked if [Rammelsberg] thought we could leave an organ/Leslie there and after he measured to see if he had space, he hit me back and said it's a go!" he said. "About a year ago, I asked several bigger venues about leaving an organ/leslie in their venue. They all said they didn't have room for it. Yet Rosie's did -- so awesome!

Of course, having the power of an old Hammond organ and Leslie cabinet is worthless if you don't have the musical skill to wield it. And that's where Adams Gone Funky excels -- each night, the jam's players will basically put on a clinic for anyone lucky enough to attend.

"As far as the songs we play, I guess they are all rooted in soul, jazz and funk from about '67 to '73 with a few originals thrown in," Felten said. "We have to choose tunes that will work with people sitting in, and it's the musician's role to keep things interesting during the (sometimes) lengthy solo sections.

"But, the good thing is, is that this style is highly danceable and that positive feedback from the audience fuels the music as well," he continued. "It's a reciprocal relationship and pushes the energy and fun for all!"

If, for some strange reason, you're still on the fence about attending, Felten and his funky crew guarantee a great time -- even for those that have to work early the next morning.

"We run this event at a weeknight-friendly time, 8-11 p.m. It's beautiful, funky music, that you can enjoy the musicianship of, and also dance hard to! It's a fun, community vibe every week and a great way to cut loose a little on a Tuesday night. Plus the Hammond organ is super powerful, spiritual, and downright heavy with funky soul," Felten said.

"It's funky church for live-music lovers!"

Adams Gone Funky takes over Rosie O'Grady's every Tuesday night from 8-11 p.m. The shows are 21-plus and free. The July 23 show will pay tribute to Art Neville, the organist of the Meters and the Neville Brothers, who sadly passed away in New Orleans on July 22.

Dustin Lothspeich is SoundDiego's senior associate editor, a San Diego Music Award-winning musician, and talent buyer at The Merrow. Follow his updates on Twitter or contact him directly.

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