Otis Grove
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Otis Grove

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE
Band Jazz Funk


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Allston Pudding Review of Otis Grove 11/11/10"

If Hogwartz had a music program, OTIS GROVE would receive a full scholarship because they are absolute wizards at their craft.  This runk (rock meets funk) trio demonstrated their virtuosity at Church  last night with a fiery zeal.  Having seen Otis Grove twice before, both times in congested bars, it was a pleasure to view them in a more comfortable setting.  This level of comfort must have found its way to the stage, for these gentlemen played flawlessly from start to finish.
Otis Grove opened their set with a tune called “The Bunk” off of their new album The Runk.  A jazzy song with a staccato melody that hops, “The Bunk” left listeners rhythmically swinging their heads in agreement with the playful sound.  The next song, “Rock City,” yielded, like the title suggests, an all-American Rock and Roll feel.  Tyler Wayne Drabick stormed out of the gates on this track, with a tempestuous ferocity that he masterfully colored with his cry baby wah.
Behind Drabick, seated at his minimalistic drum set, was Blake Goedde, whose name should be changed to “The Human Metronome.” During “Plywood Snowshoe,” a groove with a spiraling melody, Blake helped the band rise to a crescendo by attacking the ride.
Sam Gilman completes this trio with his traditional, soulful jazz organ sound that is similar to Neal Evans of Soulive or Paul Wolstencraft of B3 Kings.  Gilman, however, is in no way limited to just a Hammond organ as he has a large arsenal of ivories to work with.  On a new untitled track performed by the band, Gilman toyed with his Moog Synthesizer to add a spacey, ethereal layer to the heavy funk base.  This song had tremendous buildup, leading to a piercing solo by Drabick, which caused me to involuntarily make the “O face.”  The boys ended their set hard and heavy with their original “Monark,” transitioning seamlessly into Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.”
- Allston Pudding

"Otis Grove finds its groove with a mix of jazz and rock ‘n’ roll"

Tyler Drabick said it’s simple why the groove/rock/jazz trio Otis Grove is catching on. “We live together and jam together,” said the guitarist, who shares an Allston apartment with bandmates Blake Goedde (drums) and Sam Gilman (Hammond B-3 organ). “That’s what we do.”
But the band, which makes its Regattabar debut Thursday, does much more. The trio has introduced rockers to jazz, jazzers to rock and carried more than a few hip-hop, funk and jam-band fans along for the ride.
“When we started out, it was hard for us to find good venues to play.” Said Drabick. “Rock room club owners would listen to us and say ‘You’re too jazz for this room,’ and the jazz rooms would say, ‘You’re too rock for us.’ But we’ve worked through all that”
So successfully have they worked through it that they’ve toured England, just released an album on the Ropeadope label, opened for hot British funksters the New Mastersounds and local jambands faves the Brew, and landed a showcase at the Blue Note club in Manhattan.
That’s a nice jump for three 20-something Berklee College of Music grads who cut their musical teeth with a longtime Saturday night gig upstairs at the Middle East.
“Things are definitely picking up,” said Drabick. “We’re starting to see a lot of fans coming out tour shows who we’ve never seen.”
Otis Grove’s sound at times recalls such acid jazz/groove outfits as Topaz, Liquid Soul and Soulive, although Drabick believes there’s more of a rowdier kick to the trio.
“People do compare us to Solve,” Drabick said. “But we feel there’s more of a rock spectrum to what we do. We really try to make the shows rock.
“We definitely get some of the hippie fans from the jamb and scene, because we do jam. Bu we also get a lot of people in there 50s who understand the roots of the music. Sam listened to a lot of jazz, but also to jam bands and Phish. Blake pulls more from the hip-hop side, and I listened to a lot of classic rock and roll.
“We pull from all of these different influences, so our fans are definitely not all in one niche.”
The band’s Ropeadope debut, “Crank it UP,” makes it clear why it attracts a stylistic melting pot of fans. It’s got jams, funkified soul spots, improvisations that would make Medeski, Martin and Wood proud and straight-out danceable rock-out moments.
The group’s goal is to make Otis Grove enough of a meal tickets to let the three quit their day jobs – Drabick restores electronic organs, Gilman is a piano technician and tuner and Berklee and Goedde is a warehouse manager for Harpoon Brewery in South Boston.
“We want to be as big as we can be,” said Drabick. “ We want to be able to support ourselves playing the music we love. Our goal isn’t to become famous, but if that happened, we’d be happy with it.”
- Boston Herald

"Jambands.com Review of THE RUNK"

The Runk

For over half a decade, the three members of Otis Grove has been bringing their particular brand of jazz-laced funk to the Boston area, and now, they want more. The eager instrumental trio has set its sights on ever larger audiences, and their latest album, The Runk, may very well be the vehicle to achieve their aspirations. Featuring high octane improvisation, but with song structures that remain cerebral in nature, the album offers a bit of everything to capture listeners’ attention. But in an improvisational market saturated with amazing musicians, can another instrumental trio really prove fresh and enticing? The answer is a resounding, maybe.
For sake of orientation, Otis Grove exists within the same sphere as MMW, but the trio’s focus on experimentation propels them towards the likes of Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and San Franciscan psych-jazz troupe, Mushroom. However, though overall musicianship is very solid, there still remains some distance to be covered before Otis Grove can properly and comfortably be likened to such progressive-jazz virtuosos. Still, one element in particular sets the Boston troubadours apart – and foreshadows a rather exciting future for the band – that’s their greater focus on funk, and their ability to craft perfectly balanced heavy-rock opuses. In short, throughout their latest album, The Runk, songs hit with a life-size impact.
Album opener “Monark,” introduces itself with a wall of sound bigger than most budget stereo systems – and perhaps your eardrums – can handle. However, a quick transition into a clever passage of sound, takes the song into some bona fide jazz, without the listener necessarily realizing it. And that perhaps is Otis Grove’s single greatest asset, their ability to re-imagine jazz in ways that either aficionados, or those uninitiated, can both appreciate. This affords the band great flexibility to fit in from jamband to jazz, night clubs to festivals, and just about everywhere in between. And whether the smooth Hammond organ of “Uncle Runky” to the coy syncopations of “Bobby Nosox,” the songs throughout always remain accessible and avoid being mired down by over-zealous improvisation.
Otis Grove adeptly walks a line, drawing from the improvisational wisdom of those who’ve come before, while understanding the changing tastes of contemporary listeners. The Runk is a strong and a compelling chronicle of this talented trio’s balancing act with songs throughout – particularly “Plywood Snowshoe,” and “Waiting,” – proving deliberate, focused, and doled out in increments that today’s fast paced audiences would easily find continually engaging. Sharp interactions between instruments further leave a certain awe-factor that proves rather convincing to fans or newcomers. And though this album is just an early indication of the band’s potential, it fairs well amongst the inspiring works of contemporaries in the progressive jazz world, leaving Otis Grove, a band you’ll definitely be hearing about - Jambands.com

"Deli Magazine Review of The Runk"

What do you get when you start with funk-soul grooves, throw in some jazz stylings, add jam band sensibilities, layer on the heavy guitar and organ riffage, and finish it off with prog-rock wackiness? Oh yeah… and remove the vocals for an all-instrumental delivery. Given that mish-mash I would have guessed you’d get a train wreck. Thank God my guess would have been wrong. Otis Grove’s newest release, The Runk, is an instant classic.
The Runk opens with “Monark” and a dual barrage of guitar and organ straight out of the Deep Purple songbook. About a minute in, it takes a hard left turn into Emerson, Lake and Palmer territory with a crazy time signature shift and a Keith Emerson-style key solo. Then the tune suddenly comes back together with a meandering Santana-esque guitar solo before swinging back to the Deep Purple riffs to end the song. That’s a lot of ground covered in a single track and I knew I was in for a treat.
The next two tracks, “The Bunk” and “Basket Case," stick to a more traditional funk/jazz style, reminiscent of Fishbone mixed with Medeski, Martin and Wood. Both songs pay homage to a retro-soul sound while remaining thoroughly modern in their delivery. The album continues on this cycle through seven more tracks, alternating between heavy jam band rock-influenced tracks and classic funk/soul/jazz.
Late in the album, “I Won’t Forget” brings me back to my youth in the '70s. During my summers in New Hampshire I would frequently go roller skating at an old rink on Lake Winnipesaukee. Instead of playing Top 40 hits they instead had reel-to-reel tapes of old organ music, like some ancient form of Muzak. Listening to the keys on “I Won’t Forget” suddenly turned me into a 10 year-old klutz, circling the rink and trying desperately to look cool in a velour shirt and homemade plaid pants.
The Runk closes with “Fausto." The track highlights their drumming chops, opening with a short drum solo. Those drums remain the driving feature of the six and a half minute track and end this amazing album on a simmering groove.
- George Dow
- The Deli Magazine

"Deli Magazine Review of THE RUNK CD Release Party"

This is why I do what I do; why I spend endless hours searching for new music on the Internet, at the record shops and in clubs. I’ve seen more great shows than I can ever count (plenty of terrible ones too), but every once in a while I get turned on to something truly exceptional. Otis Grove falls into the latter category and if their new album, The Runk, didn’t prove it on its own, their CD release party at the Lizard Lounge did.
The club itself is something special. It has the feel of a dark, sexy basement living room. The super-low ceiling, flickering candles on the walls, oriental carpets on the floor and dark red lighting all support a very intimate feel. The fact that the band plays in what amounts to the middle of the floor, with no stage to speak of, completes the homey feel. It’s as though the band is playing their own jam space to an audience of close friends. The acoustics of the room are impressive too, with driving, thumping bass at a reasonable volume which doesn’t leave you with bleeding ears at the end of the night.
When I got an advanced copy of The Runk a couple of weeks ago, I was floored by the combination of influences and styles - funk, soul, jazz, metal, hip-hop, jams. I knew these guys could play but nothing really prepared me for the musicianship I witnessed in the live experience. They opened with a triplet of songs from the new album; “The Bunk,” a classic sounding funk/soul number, segued into “Rock City,” which is, as the title alludes, a driving rock instrumental, then into “Bobby Nosox,” another jam in the classic funk/soul vein.
Otis Grove are a spectacle to watch - Sam Gilman playing the role of a white Stevie Wonder, eyes closed and head a-swaying; Blake Goedde drumming with a ferocity that would make Neil Peart envious; Tyler Drabick, a geeked-out guitar god. Each song was layered with drum fills, keyboard flourishes and guitar work but with every note in the groove. For all the technical musicianship there’s never a wonky moment. Every note contributes to the mood. There’s not a second of showmanship for showmanship’s sake. Everything instead comes together in an organic, jammy flow.
The songs are so hook-laden that, just before the end of the first half of their set, my friend turned to me and said, “Hey, I just realized they’re not singing.” That, I think, is the key to why Otis Grove works so well. Without any lyrics they manage to connect and communicate with their audience directly through the music and between song banter. Even their more throwback style songs sound modern; making great use of the Pixies/Nirvana loud-quiet-loud method to pull their songs through whole series of emotions without ever uttering a word.
At about the half-way point the band introduced Brighton native, Mr. Lif, to MC a series of songs they’ve worked on together. Mr. Lif’s skills are legendary and in another context the short set would have been thoroughly enjoyable. For me, though, the introduction of vocals to the mix was such a jarring transition from the mood that had been building earlier that it left me wishing they’d performed these tunes in an opening set instead. That’s not to say that the songs weren’t good. They reminded me of some of the Beastie Boys more groove-laden work and Mr. Lif pumped the crowd along with a vast well of energy.
After the short hip-hop interlude Otis Grove get right back into it, running through a scorching Jimi Hendrix medley that hit “Little Wing,” “Hey Joe,” and “Purple Haze,” among others. As the night wore on I started to worry that they weren’t going to play my favorite track from The Runk, the album’s opener, “The Monarch.” Fortunately, I wasn’t let down. Finally, in their next to last song, I heard the classic, Deep Purple-esque, dual guitar keyboard riff that opens the song. They killed it, complete with an Emerson, Lake and Palmer-like organ breakdown in the middle. They closed the set with their interpretation of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” a seven-plus minute jam that turns the classic heavy metal tune into a wandering jam session. I’m not sure which was more entertaining, hearing the guitar and keyboards mimic Ozzie Osbourne’s vocals, or watching the entire crowd singing along, trying to step up into the role of the Prince of Darkness.
- George Dow
- The Deli Magazine

"CD Review by Sam Merrick"

Otis Grove - Crank It Up

When Sam Gilman hit the first thundering note on the Hammond B-3 organ, the attendees of the Hooker St. Hoedown in Lower Allston on October 13 witnessed a sudden exodus of frightened street rats. Gilman was soon joined by his counterparts on drums and guitar, creating a monstrous funk groove that probably would have sent Godzilla running had he been in the neighborhood. The live sonic power and energy of this instrumental jazz/funk trio, known as Otis Grove, gracefully translates onto their eight-track studio effort, Crank It Up.

While drummer Blake Goedde and guitarist Tyler Wayne Drabick undoubtedly demonstrate great musical skill, each track on this CD is consistently driven by the powerful B-3 playing of Sam Gilman who spits out lyrical leads and funky bass lines simultaneously. Much credit goes out to the record’s engineers who made the organ sound so rich and authentic throughout. With Otis Grove’s organ/guitar/drums instrumentation, one cannot help compare the trio to contemporaries such as Soulive and Medeski, Martin, and Wood. While OG composes highly catchy jazz-influenced hooks, tracks such as “Pure Luck” and “Check It” recall Soulive’s 2002 release, Turn It Out.

The hip-hop influence in OG’s music is unmistakable. However, the trio covers a great deal of musical ground throughout the album. The lead hook on “Buckfush,” for example, offers a harder rock groove while an up-tempo drum ‘n’ bass rout is explored on “Chimichanga.” With a solid foundation and tight live dynamic to build upon, the band has an immense amount of potential.
- Northeast Performer Magazine, December 2007


Otis Grove (self-titled) - 2004
Live at the Middle Earth - 2005
Crank It UP - 2007
THE RUNK - 2010
Live in Boston - 2013



There’s a new sound taking over the town known as Boston. If you’re by the banks of the Charles River as the moon glows over the muddy waters you very well may hear some thick, groovy beats banging out a trail for raw guitar licks and a soul-drenched Hammond organ. Yes indeed, ladies and gentleman who are down with the funk, it's time to get rocked by your new favorite band: Otis Grove.

Otis Grove began as a collective experiment in crossing the traditional organ jazz sound with funk, hip-hop, and rock tones. It was the beginning of a sonic realization based in groove and free in improvisation, yet rooted in songwriting and melodic structure. In early 2004, on the heels of their self-titled debut album, the band began spreading their sound to clubs around the New England area. The music, which has since evolved into a unique blend of aggressive rock n' roll and high-intensity organ funk (some fans have dubbed their genre 'Runk'—a mixture of rock and funk), pays tribute to the masters while consistently pushing itself in new directions. It's as if jazz organ legend Jimmy Smith had been the fifth member of Led Zeppelin, or if the Meters had joined forces with Black Sabbath. Performer Magazine writer Sam Merrick described it best as "a monstrous funk groove that probably would have sent Godzilla running had he been in the neighborhood."

This larger-than-life sound is crafted by three talented musicians, Sam Gilman plays a plethora of instruments in Otis Grove, including Hammond organ, Wurlitzer electric piano, Moog synthesizer, clavinet, Rhodes piano, and mellotron. He’s a piano technician at Berklee College of Music so he’s constantly being exposed to new techniques and approaches. This could explain why the band has such sonic diversity. Tyler Wayne Drabick plays the electric and acoustic guitar for the band, but that’s not his only contribution to Otis Grove’s sound. Because he owns and operates a Hammond Organ repair shop in Boston, he was able to customize the band’s organ and Leslie speaker to achieve more gain and overdrive, as well as chest-pounding deep bass tones which the band describes as “Booty Bass.”

Six years and over 500 shows after its conception, Otis Grove has shared the stage with musicians and bands John Medeski, Billy Martin, Charlie Hunter, DJ Logic, Eric Krasno of Soulive, The New Mastersounds, The Jerry Garcia Band, The Brew, Spiritual Rez, and Trombone Shorty, and many more. With a few national and European tours under their belt, Otis Grove is hitting it harder then ever, having played venues from the Paradise Rock club and House of Blues in Boston to Sullivan Hall and the famous Blue Note jazz club and in New York City. The trio—known for their cranked-up, dance-inducing, dynamic live performances—signed with Ropeadope Digital records in early 2008 and are currently promoting their second release on the label, The Runk