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Outer Orbit explores soul power in a KNKX studio session

After a drive up I-5 from their home base in Portland, Oregon, the modern soul ensemble Outer Orbit stopped by KNKX's Seattle studios for an exclusive performance the day before their summertime concert at Volunteer Park Amphitheater. Sounding familiar but completely modern, the group recorded three different original songs and talked about their formation, and hopes for their musical future.

Led by the band's main composer Galen Clark, modern jazz fans will find subtle similarities between Outer Orbit and Clark's long-running Trio Subtonic in the band's tight and flowing grooves.

Outer Orbit's self-titled debut album was released in 2021. Sarah Clarke is featured as the main vocalist along with guest appearances by singer Saeeda Wright and organistJohn Medeski. The band also includes Mike Elson on keyboards and piano, Trent Baarspul on guitar, Damien Erskine playing bass and Tyrone Hendrix behind the drums.

As Clark explained, these musicians are a busy bunch and getting them all together for a trip to Seattle was a rarity we were happy to enjoy. This primary version of Outer Orbit has had to be adaptable, as Sarah Clarke (Dirty Revival, Portugal the Man) and Hendrix (Allen Stone Band) are often called away on tour. Clark himself has spent the last year or so touring with rock group Sleater-Kinney.

Formed just before the pandemic, Outer Orbit updates the classic soul style of Sly Stone with Clarke's authoritative vocals guiding the way. Swapping out singer Clarke with Wright and Hendrix with Seattle drummer Tarik Abouzied, Outer Orbit thrilled the outdoor crowd at Volunteer Park who demanded an encore before letting the crew head back home.

In the new Studio X at KNKX's Seattle studios, Outer Orbit showed off their funky side with "Am I Doing It Right?" followed by the moving ballad "Heart Shaped Plane." They concluded with a performance of their debut single "Neena," co-written by Clark and Clarke, which should be their musical calling card.

Follow KNKX for information about future Outer Orbit releases. In the meantime, enjoy these wonderful exclusive performances they recorded, just for you.


  • Sarah Clarke - vocals
  • Galen Clark - organ
  • Mike Elson - keyboards, piano
  • Trent Baarspul - guitar
  • Damien Erskine - bass
  • Tyrone Hendrix - drums


  1. Am I Doing It Right?
  2. Heart Shaped Plane
  3. Neena
Abe grew up in Western Washington, a third generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.
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