Music » Choice Concerts

Buffalo rock trio Organ Fairchild returns to Abilene

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Keyboardist Joe Bellanti, guitarist Dave Ruch, and drummer Corey Kertzie perform live as Organ Fairchild. - PHOTO BY GREG MEADOWS
  • PHOTO BY GREG MEADOWS
  • Keyboardist Joe Bellanti, guitarist Dave Ruch, and drummer Corey Kertzie perform live as Organ Fairchild.
Rochester is no stranger to rock bands with punny names. Look no farther than surf rock-party band Harmonica Lewinski. So Buffalo-based trio Organ Fairchild should feel right at home when it returns to Abilene Bar & Lounge on Saturday, Dec. 4.

The band — organist and keyboardist Joe Bellanti, drummer Corey Kertzie, and guitarist Dave Ruch — is touring to promote its recently released debut album, “Brewed in Buffalo.” Recorded and mixed by Kertzie in his basement studio and mastered by Soulive’s Alan Evans, the album includes nine original tunes.

“We all love the classic organ trio format — Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, and all those early 1960’s groups – but we all come from a rock background and grew up playing in Grateful Dead cover bands,” Ruch said in a recent phone interview. “So in putting this band together, the thought was, ‘how hard can we rock in this format, and how many different places could we take the music?’

“We’re definitely not a traditional organ trio in terms of material or our take on how we play the instruments. It’s definitely more akin to Soulive, but we’re probably even a little more rock and less jazz than they are.”

Veterans of the Western New York music scene, Ruch and his bandmates go back a long way — nearly 40 years — when they played in a group called Wild Knights, a popular cover band based out of Williamsville, a suburb of Buffalo.

“I joined in 1983, when I was 18 or 19,” Ruch said. “We played together in that band for 10 years and then went our separate ways, but we always kept in touch.”



They reconvened in 2019, when they were hired for another friend’s gig.

“He left the stage and the three of us started noodling around and that’s when the idea dawned on me that we could probably cover a lot of ground,” Ruch said. “But we ended up as an organ trio because these were the two guys I wanted to put a band together with, and those were the two other instruments they played.”

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Earlier this year, Organ Fairchild was voted No. 1 out of 64 up-and-coming bands in NYS Music's statewide 2021 “March Madness” competition. And now the trio is looking to make up for lost time this fall with a series of shows across Central and Western New York.

And about that band name?

“We wanted to name the band ‘Organ Freeman,’ after Morgan Freeman, but we discovered there’s already an organ trio in Los Angeles with that name,” Ruch said. “We were batting around some other names, and we all remembered Morgan Fairchild from posters in the 1970’s. It was just a way to get ‘organ’ in the name, and also have a little fun. But we do get a lot of comments from people who have no idea who she is and think it’s a great band name.”

Organ Fairchild performs on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 8 p.m. at Abilene Bar & Lounge, 153 Liberty Pole Way, Rochester. $10 advance, $15 day of show. Proof of vaccination required. 585-232-3230. abilene.showare.com; organfairchild.com.

Jim Catalano works for Ithaca's WITH-FM 90.1, a media partner of WXXI. Feedback on this article can be directed to dkushner@rochester-citynews.com.