Friday Funk: Energize with Orgone

Words By Andy DeVilbiss

If The Funk had existed during Wilhelm Reich's lifetime, I'm sure he'd be a fan. Reich was an Austrian-American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who cut his teeth gigging with the Godfather of Psych, Siggy Freud, and his early work, focusing on the concept of the whole “character structure” as opposed to individual neuroses, garnered the respect of his peers and influenced some heavy hitters in his field. He believed in Freud's concept of libido and argued that a healthy psychological state was heavily influenced by an uninhibited libido and all the crazy, orgasmic awesome that comes with it, setting up a career as the Sir Psycho Sexy of his day.

Somewhere down the line, Reich's peers started to think that he was, well, getting a little funky. He started violating the no-touchy rule during therapy sessions and would often treat patients in their underwear in order to improve their “orgastic potency.” Pretty soon he started claiming he'd discovered a pervasive cosmic energy, a primordial, omnipresent substance that affected everything from the smallest cells to gigantic galaxies. He even built machines called accumulators to harness this force to provide health benefits to his patients.

A lot of folks called it cuckoo-bananas. He called it ORGONE, pronounced with a long second “O” and now defined as “a universal life force, a cosmic unit of energy, the creative force of nature.”

Sounds a bit like The Funk, right? After all, it's a genre that's all about universal energy, free-flowing natural creativity, the propulsive rhythmic force of The One, and, hell, when it comes to The Funk, ain't nuthin' wrong with a healthy dose of the sexy-sexy. So it's only fitting that a funk band would adopt the name Orgone, and, after a breakthrough year in 2010, the dictionary needs to add another definition:

“Nine funkateers from Los Angeles who will move your ass and melt your face.”

Orgone was busy last year. REAL busy. They released two albums for Ubiquity Records:

Cali Fever, which deservedly earned a spot on nearly every funk/soul critic's “Best of 2010” list, and The Killion Vaults, an all-instrumental offering titled after the name of their home studio. Under new management, they finally did some extensive touring, including a stop at Bonnaroo, their first trip to the East Coast (which I had been rabidly anticipating ever since hearing their first single “Funky Nassau” in 2004) and featuring a stop at moe.down which introduced them in a big way to the “jamband” scene with an epic late night set that made them one of the most talked about acts of the festival.

An audience recording of their moe.down set is available on etree, and, seriously, if you're a funk fan, you need it whether you think you do or not. It's proof for ya earhole that Orgone is a polished live funk juggernaut that can do it all. Like a Galactic show in the heyday of “The Houseman,” Orgone strikes a perfect balance between instrumental and vocal numbers that weave seamlessly between gutbucket nastiness, afro-beat, disco/house, and classic funk covers that show their knowledge and appreciation of the genre's history (When I saw them in DC, they dedicated a ripping cover of “Cosmic Slop” to recently passed P-Funk legend and local resident Garry “Starchild” Shider). You can almost feel the sweat dripping from guitarist Sergio Rios, envision the frenetic blur of percussionist Stewart Killen's hands, and when vocalist Fanny Franklin hits the stage, well, she brings that dose of sexy-sexy and the party somehow gets even hotter.

You need to listen to that show and prepare because, good people, Orgone is probably coming to your area real soon, and you DO NOT want to miss them. The band just embarked on a massive tour, starting in their home state of California, with legs through the Pacific Northwest, Great Plains, Midwest, the South, the East Coast, and then looping back with gigs a-plenty as they make their way home to the Golden State in early April. Now, these cats are worth checking out by themselves, but, if you need some extra incentive to sweeten the deal, here's some of the acts they'll be touring with: Rebelution, Dumpstaphunk, and Galactic. If that funkalicious icing on the cake doesn't convince you to get out to the show and get down on the get down? Well, then you probably shouldn't be reading this. Turn in your Funk Card and, as P-Funk would say, take your dead ass home. Maybe put a couple Perry Como records on the hi-fi instead, you square.

If, however, you are up to the task and brave enough to saddle up with the funk beast that is Orgone, you'll know why I'm gushing about them like a giddy schoolgirl. And you'll be able to say you were there when Orgone kicked in the door of our scene and blew some hippie minds away before they undoubtedly start showing up on festival bills throughout the summer.

Get out to their show. Shake your cosmic ass unit. Feel that universal energy. Maybe Wilhelm Reich was nutso and completely wrong, but Orgone, the band, is SO right. Who knows? Their set may even improve your “orgastic potency.”

Orgone is:

Sergio Rios- Guitar
Dan Hastie- Keys
Ethan Phillips- Bass
Stewart Killen- Percussion
Sean O'Shea- Drums
Darren Cardoza- Trombone
Devin Williams- Trumpet
Joel Bowers- Saxophone
Fanny Franklin- Vocals

Suggested Listening:

Cali Fever (2010)

9.4.10, Late Night at moe.down

Check Out Orgone's Tour Dates Here.


  1. Sounds like I need to check out Orgone.

  2. Orgone is pretty serious...they can lay down some funk that will make you feel quite nostalgic, almost like you're livin in the 70's. These cats have their shit down...


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