For a lot of bands, there’s one definitive show that changes everything; an inextinguishable fire is lit and there’s no turning back. Call it something in the stars, call it the apex moment when all the hard work culminates into one triumphant display of maturation, call it Fate casting down her signal to say, “I’ve been watching you and I’m here to help.” For Santa Cruz’s burgeoning Hammond organ trio, On The Spot, that gig was last September at San Francisco’s Boom Boom Room. Three years since first assembling, having joked around from the start that someday Soulive would be sitting in the crowd at one of their shows, guitarist Danny Mayer, organ player Kris Yunker, and drummer Emery Nelson were invited to play—insert jaws dropping here—a Soulive after-party.
“The owner of the Boom Boom Room is notoriously hard to get a hold of, but we sent him our stuff and he called us right back to ask us if we’d play,” Mayer remembers with disbelief. It gets better. “Then he asked us, ‘Would it be OK if some of the [Soulive] boys could use your gear?’” Answer: hell yeah. Playing to a packed house that night, the hard-driving funk trio blasted through a set that saw them spontaneously playing with members of Soulive and another famous audience member, one Stanton Moore. “That night changed everything for us,” the guitarist says. Because of it, OTS would record its just-released debut, Straight Out the Garden, in a Massachusetts studio with Soulive drummer Alan Evans. With Yunker’s left hand on the Hammond triggering the sounds of a live bass player through a bass amp—in addition to his right hand organ soloing, OTS secures psychedelic jams with thumping funk and jazz grooves. Building into a set Mayer calls a “wild, untamed beast that just happens to us,” the band unleashes a high-energy dance show of songs that both growl and purr. Now signed to the Japanese label that also puts out Soulive, P-Vine Records, the trio hits the stage alongside Dumpstaphunk on Saturday, May 29, at Moe’s Alley. And, Mayer says, expect the band to live up to its name and mix things up—on the spot. “We never play our parts the same way every night. We change with every room we play in.”
INFO: 9 p.m. Sat., May 29. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $20. 479-1854. otstrio.com.