Cool as Weiss: Drummer joins renowned soul-jazz trio

Delvon Lamarr, left, Dan Weiss and Jimmy James perform Wednesday at the Crystal Bay Casino.

The new normal is extraordinary for Reno’s Dan Weiss.

The 33-year drummer has joined the acclaimed Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, which is on a national tour that stops Wednesday at the Crystal Bay Casino.

“I’ve got to pinch myself sometimes when I’m up (onstage) to let myself know that it’s real,” Weiss said. “Jimmy James and Delvon Lamarr, I consider them as two of the best musicians in the world at what they do.”

The music is instrumental blend of soul and jazz. Lamarr is a self-taught, multi-instrumental virtuoso and James is a guitarist compared to Grant Green and Steve Cropper. Weiss’ bandmates live in Seattle.

Weiss also plays with the Sextones, which covers a lot of similar styles.

“I owe a lot of where I’m at now to Mark (Sexton) Alex (Korostinsky) and playing all that different type of music with them,” Weiss said. “They really molded me into the musician that I am now I through playing the Meters and old funk stuff that Delvon plays, so it was very translatable.”

Weiss spoke to Tahoe Onstage Friday from Vermont where his new band prepared to headline the evening show of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival.

“People are excited to get out and see music and break the norm of what they’ve been doing the last 18 months,” Weiss said. “It was taking the thing that you love the most and suddenly cutting it out of your life. Confusion and anger came with it. I never took performing for granted but I have a greater appreciation for it now.”

Weiss befriended Lamarr and James more than a decade ago when he attended the Seattle Drum School of Music. Five years later, the Sextones and DLOT toured together across the Pacific Northwest.

After drummer David McGraw left, the band needed a a replacement. Weiss considered auditioning but was too busy with the Sextones. But when Sexton and Korostinsky focused on another project, Whatitdo, Weiss reached out to the band’s manager, Amy Novo.

“I said, ‘Amy, I see you are going through drummer roulette and now might be a good time to put my hat in the ring,’ ” Weiss said. “Without hesitation, she said, ‘What are you doing in two weeks?’ ”

Weiss, who worked in a warehouse at the time, wore headphones and listened to Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio music all day, every day to prepare.

Weiss played with Lamarr and James for about two hours and then hit the stage.

“They were testing me by having me play parts of different songs just to see if I’d been doing my homework,” he said.

“Delvon came up with the drum grooves and he’s very particular about what he wants. He can hear if I’m not laying the right patterns. It definitely keeps me on my toes, on my edge. He’s self-taught on organ. He literally learned by watching a Seattle cat named Joe Doria, which blows my mind. He plays bass notes and rhythm at the same time. He also has perfect pitch. He’s a freakish guy.”

The band played three shows in Canada Feb. 27-29 and made plans for a two-month European tour starting April 17. Then the Covid-19 lockdown began.

“It might have been a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to ease in the situation,” Weiss said.

The band has worked in the studio and its first new song is called “Cold as Weiss.”

Wednesday’s show at Crystal Bay will be especially cool.

“This will be my first hometown-ish show and I look forward to playing for all my friends in Tahoe,” Weiss said.

Weiss will be in Reno on July 9 when the Sextones play at San Rafael Regional Park as part of the Artown festival.

-Tim Parsons

  • Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio
  • When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 9
  • Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
  • Tickets: $25
  • Details: Seated, socially distanced show

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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