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Hat Trick fans will bump into Hipbone at The Swiss on Monday. That's because the talented instrumental trio has changed its name.

"It's Hipbone now," said veteran Hammond B-3 organ player Buck England. "We just initiated the new name because there are so many Hat Tricks in the country.

That may be, but few could boast a lineup to match England, guitarist Jho Blenis and drummer Mike Slivka, who mine a rich, and often overlooked, vein of music.

"It's kind of jazz-based old Hammond B-3 throwback music with a more modern funky touch," England said. "It's like the old Blue Note records with a Jack McDuff, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff feeling to it - B-3 trio stuff."

Those keyobard greats showcased the B-3's power and potential as a lead instrument, and each of them played with great guitarists. England enjoys getting to work with Blenis, his longtime cohort in Big Nasty.

"Jho brings his guitar magic to the party," England said. "We just seem to meld well and enjoy each other's music. It's kind of a joyful noise whenever we get together."

Asked what makes Blenis's guitar work so widely admired, England said, "It's so many things. For example, he complements excellently. He's a great comp player."

Takes one to know one. England, who has tremendous talent for filling in bass lines from his B-3, is regarded as one of the best at "comping" that the Northwest has ever heard.

"Jho also plays rhythm well," England said. "He grew up on the funk thing, which I really enjoy - the James Brown-style rhythms. It goes right to your feet. And his soloing is really lyrical."

Throw in Slivka's solid percussion, and Hipbone has a lot to offer, including a repertoire that is loaded with forgotten goodies.

"We're kind of going for songs that aren't heard much," England said. "One of our favorites is "Mimosa," a George Benson tune that George and Jimmy Smith played together. We also do standards and some of the old R&B things, but we're pretty much sticking to the old Hammond B-3 grove tunes."

If you can't catch Monday's show, Hipbone "will be appearing here and there," England said, including his "favorite gig," playing once a month at the Olympia Farmers Market which runs April through December.

-Rick Nelson TNT Roots Music
- The Tacoma News Tribune


Still working on that hot first release.



HipBone is made up of seasoned professionals who have played nationally and internationally for, well, quite a few years. Buck England started playing piano back in the dance hall days during the birth of Northwest Rock and Roll. Jho Blenis has played with and opened for Floyd Dixon, Robert Cray, Junior Wells, won the prestigious Bluesman of the Year in 1996, and has jammed alongside too many legends to list. Michael Slivka has performed in most of the major events and venues in the Seattle/Tacoma area. Being well-versed in a variety usic styles makes him a valuable asset in any group. "I try to stay focused on time, feel and support keeping the groove. I enjoy what I'm doing."