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The New Cool: Win tickets to next week's Portland vs. Seattle organ battles

Justin Steyer
Trio Subtonic's Galen Clark in the KNKX studios. They share bills with McTuff in Seattle at Olympia next week.

The bill is set at Seattle's Nectar Lounge Thursday, Jan. 30. The South Sound sequel follows Jan. 31 at Rhythm & Rye in Olympia. A two-fisted organ trio battle pitting our hometown heroes McTuff facing off in musical combat with Portland's Trio Subtonic. The New Cool has the tale of the tape and we'll give away tickets during the radio show Saturday afternoon.

Standing at 10 feet tall and weighing in at 500 pounds, Joe Doria is widely accepted as Seattle's giant of the Hammond B3. Forming McTuff in 1999, he's a fixture at finer live music establishments around Puget Sound. His regular late Tuesdays at the Seamonster Lounge in Wallingford have become legend, and he's played just about every music venue in Seattle.

Portlander Galen Clark comes in at 6 solid feet of trail hiking, sinewy brawn. A relentless groove machine on various electric keyboards, Clark often favors the Nord Stage keyboard with this group. He can be spotted at the Jack London Review in the Rose City, with Trio Subtonic as well as the recently formed soul funk group Outer Orbit.

The two trios will both feature Seattle's beloved D'Vonne Lewis behind the drums. McTuff's co-founder Andy Coe plays guitar, while Trio Subtonic co-founder Bill Athens plays both electric and upright bass.

Often found sharing stages between the Rose and Emerald cities, the trios are obvious fans of each other. I asked both Doria and Clark if they had any "pro-boxer-wrestler trash talk" for the other. I got silence.

Credit Justin Steyer
Joe Doria works out all four limbs in the KNKX studios. He's leading McTuff in Seattle and Olympia next week with Portland's Trio Subtonic.

Joe Doria's style on the Hammond organ owes a lot to McTuff's namesake, Jack McDuff, the legendary organist who's 60s band gave George Benson his first recording opportunity. Like with that band, guitarist Andy Coe is a main musical foil for Doria. Bouncy, muscular grooves power McTuff, with occaisional forays into progressive rock's interstellar psychedelia.

Galen Clark also knows his way around the organ, and his deft, gospel-influenced style is more open and stately than Doria's. Clark's Nord keys brings a more pop sound to Trio Subtonic, making for interesting covers of songs by The Black Keys, Sia and Portland's Elliott Smith. Bill Athens, on upright or electric bass, provides the counterpoint to Clark's keys. His bass sets solid foundations, and Athens always makes the most of a solo.

D'Vonne Lewis will continue to solidify his reputation as the Northwest's favorite (and busiest) drummer, playing in both trios at both Nectar Lounge and Rhythm & Rye next week.

Credit Lisa Hagen Glynn
D'Vonne Lewis will be drumming with both McTuff and Trio Subtonic at shows in Seattle and Olympia next week.

I'm always struck by how Lewis can shift his drumming to fit both of these distinctive, original trios. At the same time, he never loses his own singular musical personality.

The New Cool wants you to get in on the fun next week, live in Seattle on Thursday night and in Olympia on Friday night. Be listening to the show Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. to find out how to win tickets here. (Note: ticket giveaways will take place, although the show may be pre-empted for NPR's coverage of the Presidential Impeachment Trial) We have one pair for Nectar Lounge on Thursday, two pair for Rhythm & Rye on Friday. Even if you don't win tickets, make plans to see this organ "Battle" that everybody wins.

The New Cool airs Saturdays from 3 to 5 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle.

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