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Thursday July 24, 2014
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Nick Strange Trio

 

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the addition of new band member and powerhouse vocalist Jessica Oberholtzer.

The Nick Strange Trio often plays at Goodnite Gracie, and that's where I saw the group last. Andrew "O" Schreiber was at the drums, and John Sperendi was filling in for Rob Crozier on bass. Each of these guys also plays with various other bands, and it's a real bonus for Orcutt to have such flexible and gifted musicians onstage with him. He needs folks who can keep up with his different musical styles.

Orcutt's music is multilayered and sumptuous, but unlike what some other fusion or free-flowing jazz groups play, it doesn't make you feel as if you're not smart enough to "get it." He cooks up a stew of calypso, reggae, funky Delta, Afro pop, jazz, and rock 'n' roll and serves it up in a very palatable way. Days after I see his band perform, Orcutt's voice and melodies still play in my head, even though I don't know the lyrics. His music is groovy and comfy — like an afternoon drive in a convertible along the Gulf Coast.

I don't ordinarily like cover bands, but the few covers Nick Strange plays are arranged into what amounts to a different song with the same lyrics. It's done so well that I don't consciously compare the covers with the originals. They're like little surprises. For instance, the band played Tom Petty's "Free Falling" as a calypso. I sang along easily, yet I experienced it in a new way.

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