Delvon Lamarr was always the hired gun, and that was OK because he could make music out of anything. But his wife Amy Novo knew he could be much more than just the “side-guy.”
After his trio had only just been put together, Novo booked them an eight-month residency at the Royal Room in Seattle. She believed in Lamarr’s talents. It was time he did too – regardless of the fact that Lamarr had formed an organ trio, an unconventional group by anyone’s standards.
“When you believe in something, you don’t have to sell it,” Lamarr said in a phone interview with BandWagon. “All Amy did was work her magic.”
The Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, aka the DLO3, were playing festivals before they had recordings, jamming through AC/DC, Dolly Parton and original compositions. The way Lamarr shreds across the keys and seamlessly grooves the organ pedals with his feet, you’d think he had been doing this his whole life. But this is more of a reflection of Lamarr’s natural ability with any instrument he touches. His only exposure to the organ were the hymns he heard in church. He didn’t even touch one until his early 20s.
Lamarr was an established trumpet player and drummer in the Seattle area when he got a call to play drums with organist Joe Doria. They played every Wednesday at the Art Bar in Seattle, where he watched Doria navigate the keys with ease and grace. Lamarr was playing one night when another drummer came in and sat in his chair. That’s when Lamarr decided to take Doria’s chair, and as soon as his fingers touched those keys, it was like he had been playing his whole life.
The DLO3 feels like a trio of friends who grew up together, though it was established in 2015, and members have shuffled around. As their rapid success and commitments grew, Lamarr was faced with finding the right musicians to follow him. The first key was finding his guitar player Jimmy James.
Lamarr first met James when he walked into a Seattle club with his guitar while Lamarr was drumming on stage. Lamarr thought James was a kid, invited him on stage and was blown away by his playing. About 10 years later, they got called to play on the same gig, and about six years after that, Lamarr invited him to play in the DLO3. James was hesitant because he didn’t know any of the songs and was more of a soul guy where Lamarr was more of a jazz guy. Lamarr was not worried about that — those two gigs together over the course of 15 years were enough to sell him.
“Jimmy’s style made the music different, as soon as we started,” Lamarr said. “The combination felt unique and connected.”
But the DLO3 puzzle wasn’t quite complete. Their long-time drummer David McGraw was stepping down, and while they had Grant Schroff of the Polyrhythmics substituting on their European tour, they were still riding an ever-progressing momentum of popularity with an album on the horizon.
As they sat on the train in Europe, sifting through over 160 videos looking for their next drummer, Dan Weiss’s email fell into Lamarr’s inbox. Lamarr was ecstatic at the idea of having Weiss, the drummer of the Sextones, in his group. When Lamarr and James walked into the studio to produce I Told You So, they had only a handful of incomplete thoughts and ideas they’d started with Schoff during soundchecks on tour. Lamarr knew Weiss was the guy they needed to finish those thoughts.
Longtime fans of the DLO3 were skeptical of adding a new guy, afraid the music would drastically change the dynamic of the sound. But Lamarr was so confident in adding Weiss he basically named the album after him. I Told You So, which came out in January of 2021, retains that same high-energy funky soul with a heavy jazz influence.
“I tell people no one person makes the band, but what puts it in perspective is all of us,” Lamarr said. “It’s gonna be different, it can still be different, and still be good. So that’s why I called it I Told You So.” Taking Weiss’ inclusion a step even further, the band’s latest single is titled “Cold As Weiss.”
Just as Lamarr was fit for the organ, and James and Weiss were fit to fully realize the vision for the band, The Delvon Lamarr Trio found themselves fit for the stage. As the world returned to live music, DLO3 can continue to climb the ladder of success that Novo saw in her husband more than six years ago.
The amazing Delvon Lamarr Trio will make five tour stops in Colorado this month, Wednesday, September 29 at the Aggie Theater in Fort Collins being their last show in the state. All tour dates at delvonlamarrorgantrio.com, tickets for the 29th at theaggietheatre.com