January 21, 2015
Otis and the Elevators celebrates the release of their second CD It is What It Is on Friday, January 23 at the Onset Pub at Crotched Mountain, and again on Saturday, January 24 at the Village Trestle in Goffstown. The band is fronted by Otis Doncaster, who has been playing music in the Monadnock region since 1990, with his current band as well as the Skip Philbrick Blues Band, and with Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson and the Magic Rockers.
Otis grew up listening to country, and rock, and was introduced to the blues in his late teens. He first started jamming weekly with other musicians in 1990, calling their group Blues Stew. They did their first gig at Alberto’s in Bennington in December of 1990. After learning about 45 songs they were ready to play around the Monadnock region. Their first gig was in 1993 at the Rynborn in Antrim as Otis and the Elevators. “We changed our name to Otis and the Elevators because I became the front man. And it was a play on words from the elevator company.”
Otis ran the jam at the Rynborn for over ten years. They were voted Favorite Blues Jam six times by Blues Audience newsletter. Part of these jams included legendary Chicago bluesman Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson, who had moved from the Windy City to New England and formed his band, the Magic Rockers. “Skip Philbrick and Peter Kabala got Luther to come to Rynborn and we would do weekly jams,” Otis recalls. “At the time I had been playing drums for three years for the Skip Philbrick Blues Band. Then in 1995, after playing drums with him all summer, Luther asked me to join the Magic Rockers as the drummer. I didn’t feel I was ready so I declined. But I told him if he wanted a harmonica player, call me. And twenty years later, he did. I’ve been playing harp with him for the past four years.”
Otis is the only original member of Otis and the Elevators. The current line-up includes Dave Brown on bass and vocals for 12 years, Jeremy Brown on piano for 15 years, CJ Chaplin on drums for five years, and Tom Wright, guitar player for four years, although he played for a year in 1999. “The band members are like family,” says Otis. “They are a talented band.” He describes the band’s genre of music as Americana – ranging from rock, bluegrass, and jazz to country, blues, and folk. “We notice who is in the crowd and play music we think they will like.”
Many of the band’s gigs these days are benefits for people needing help with medical and living expenses due to illness, accidents or other circumstances. “I like to do benefits. I do them a lot; it’s a good way to use your talent to give back to the community. We love what we do so it’s not hard. And we get to see our friends in other bands and play with them.” In 2012, Otis and the Elevators released their first CD, Dark of the Night. All but two cuts are written by Otis or the band.
“Music is joy,” says Otis. “It has brought so much joy to my life. Please support live music in your community -- keep live music alive.” For more information about Otis and Elevators, visit their Facebook page.
What is Monadnotes?
Monadnotes promotes live music opportunities in the southwestern New Hampshire area. We list musicians, venues, community ensembles, and events in Keene, Milford, Peterborough, Henniker and surrounding towns, as well as in the greater Connecticut River Valley and Pioneer Valley regions. Monadnotes has the most complete calendar listing of events and continues to expand. Contact us to be listed on our website.