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Sam Fribush Organ Trio

Sunday, 12.31.23

pre- Hiss Golden Messenger / After the Motown Throwdown

on the Deck Stage @ Chs Pour house

5:30pm doors /6:30pm show

2 sets

$10 advance / day of show

*FREE w/ Hiss Golden Messenger Ticket purchase

Sam Fribush Organ Trio

“I’ve always had an affinity for the Hammond organ,” says Sam Fribush. “It’s such a greasy, funky, soulful instrument, but it’s also an incredible piece of engineering. You open it up and there’s like a hundred spinning discs; it’s more complicated than a grandfather clock. It has such a mind of its own, too — most of the time, it feels like it’s playing me more than I’m playing it.”

That funky Hammond sound can be heard in all its greasy glory on two blazing new albums from the Sam Fribush Organ Trio — Vol. I: Riverboat and Vol II: The Root. Produced by virtuoso guitarist Charlie Hunter, both records find Fribush, Hunter and drummer Geoff Clapp putting their special soulful spin on everything from jazz standards (Yusef Lateef’s “Plum Blossom,” Billy Strayhorn’s “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing”), New Orleans touchstones (Allen Toussaint’s “Riverboat,” Ellis Marsalis Jr.’s “Swingin’ at the Haven”), 70s R&B jams (Billy Preston’s “Will It Go Round in Circles,” The Impressions’ “We Must Be in Love”) and modern classics like D’Angelo’s “The Root” and Bonnie Raitt’s “Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About,” as well as a couple of Fribush originals. Playful, thrilling, and cheerfully sweat-soaked, both records cook like the kitchen of a packed juke joint. If you dig the likes of Jimmy McGriff, Big John Patton and Brother Jack McDuff, the Sam Fribush Organ Trio is most definitely in your wheelhouse.

The Sam Fribush Organ Trio began to take shape in the spring of 2020, when Fribush — a jazz piano graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, who had established a sizeable following in New Orleans — moved back from the Big Easy to his hometown of Greensboro, NC. “My friends in New Orleans and I were all making a fine living, having fun, playing out every night of the week, and putting cash in our pockets,” he recalls, “but then the pandemic hit and all the gigs dried up.” A mutual friend introduced Frisbush to Hunter, who had himself relocated to Greensboro from the NYC area a few years earlier, and the two immediately hit it off. After woodshedding together in a converted garage studio at Fribush’s parents house, the pair convened at Stephen Lee Price’s Studio in High Point, NC with veteran jazz drummer Clapp in tow.

“Charlie and I spent a little time in pre-production figuring out tunes and arrangements,” Fribush explains. “We had a list of about a half-dozen different grooves that we wanted to do, and a list of tunes; we knew we wanted some tunes in there that people might recognize. And I really wanted to pay tribute to New Orleans, since that city’s music and culture has always resonated so deeply with me. So that’s why we did the Allen Toussaint tune — which is kind of my roundabout way of paying tribute to Art Neville who passed away just a couple of years ago — and Geoff played with Ellis Marsalis up until he died last year, so that’s why we did “Swingin’ at the Haven”. I grew up obsessing over all the great New Orleans pianists, and so many of them are gone now, so it’s important for me to help carry on that tradition.”

Recorded in December 2020, the sixteen tracks on Vol. I: Riverboat and Vol II: The Root came together with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of groove. “Basically everything was done in one or two takes, and they all sounded great,” Fribush laughs. “I guess the muses were with me!” Instead of cherry-picking favorite tracks from the sessions for a single album, Hunter advised Fribush to release all of them across two simultaneously released long-players. “It’s kind of harkening back to the tradition of jazz artists releasing multiple volumes of material recorded during the same sessions,” Fribush explains. “I tried to split the tracks up in a way that both would be interesting and flow well. They’ve both got something for everybody on them, but each record still wound up having its own little vibe.”

Vol. I: Riverboat and Vol II: The Root both also give the listener a good idea of what to expect from the Sam Fribush Organ Trio in a live setting, but Fribush himself says there’s nothing quite like digging the Trio in person. “When you can feel that Leslie speaker spinning and hear the tubes humming, it just hits you differently,” he explains. “The Hammond has such an uplifting sound, and it has such a feel-good vibe. There’s a long history of Hammond organ trios in small club, playing shuffles and blues and soul for people just getting off work and trying to relax and forget the day, and we’re definitely part of that tradition. We have so much fun together onstage, and we know how to entertain an audience. Plus, the music we play is so versatile: If you want to sit down and listen and get into it from a jazz perspective, you can do that, but it’s also really conducive for dancing and having fun with your friends.”

* Show is for all ages. Attendees under 18 must be accompanied by a parent. Attendees under 21 will be subject to a $5 surcharge. The surcharge must be paid in cash at the door on the day of the event.