If you were making a funk checklist, what would be on it?
Maybe some fat bass you can feel in your bones? Guitar work fit for a '70s blaxpoitation film? You'd have to have some killer percussion complemented by a tight horn section, and some hand claps here and there so even the least rhythmically gifted could keep up and feel a part of the proceedings.
All that would make for a large assemblage of musicians, so they'd have to be adept at what they play — so adept they could keep the listener hooked with instrumentals. But how cool would it be for them to have great songs sung by a vocally gifted frontwoman?
Orgone, based out of Los Angeles and coming to The Annex on Monday (see “If you go”), fits that bill to a proverbial T. The decade-old band's funk prowess was enough for new singer Niki Crawford, who joined the currently eight-piece band in April. “It's really good to be with them,” said Crawford, who hails from Springhill, La., where she grew up singing in church and musical theater in her teens.
Professionally, Crawford cut her teeth singing with the likes of Carlos Santana, Keb' Mo', Nikka Costa and Macy Gray, the last of whom she did a three-year stint singing backup.
Crawford joined up with Orgone after a tip from a friend.
“(She) said, ‘Niki, there's a groove band that needs a singer,'” Crawford said. “I said, ‘OK.' I called them, and we did the phone thing for a minute, and then I went, and we were gone (touring) for two, three months after that. It's like, ‘I'm here, cool, we out two months.'”
With Orgone, Crawford is working “with amazing musicians. Every single one of them are amazing musicians. So it's not just fluffy stuff. It's people that are serious about what they're doing. Everybody's together. It's a good show,” she said. Thanks to Orgone's frequent road stints, “We're getting better. I'm getting better. Everything's just getting better. It just feels right.”
The lineup changes of late aren't limited to Crawford's replacement of former vocalist Fanny Franklin. “We've had some personnel changes in the rhythm section,” guitarist Sergio Rios said.
“We had a pretty solid core unit for a good six years, (but) ... we've been on the road the better part of the last two years, just going at it pretty hard,” Rios said. “When we started, it was a nine-piece band; we're now eight. It's pretty intense to try to keep an eight-piece band together through all that, traveling so much and struggling to get it out there.
“Luckily,” he said, “we've got an extended family of musicians and dedicated people who are really down for the cause and want to be a part of it.”
Orgone's most recent album is 2010's “Cali Fever,” and there are plans to record new material with its new members, said Rios, a founding member of the band, which dates back to 2000 when it was an instrumental five-piece.
“We had a break in September and October, and we finally grabbed some time to work on some new material,” he said. After playing on the annual Jam Cruise in January, Orgone plans to use the shore leave to record a new album. “We'll have a record done for March. We're real excited about that.”
The band played the Volcanic Funk Festival in Bend last summer, but the recording break may mean it'll be a while before Orgone brings its energy back to Oregon. And though it may be cold outside, it's likely to get hot in The Annex.
“It's 110 percent adrenaline-fueled dance party,” Rios said. “The band's definitely going to get sweaty; it usually carries over into the people. It's basically high-energy, no holds barred. We just kinda come full force and come to take no prisoners.”