"...Take a little bit of delta blues, mix it with the spicy taste of New Orleans funk, shake it with some good time rock & roll and you've got the recipe for rockin' with Otis & the Hurricanes! One thing you can count on - is soulfull music played for real. When they plug in, the crowd turns on...."
11/4/99: More Sugar; music review
If you're a musician in Fairfield County, about the most fun you can have is sitting in and jamming with Otis and the Hurricanes...OMG, what fun and fabulous band to play with!!! Guys invited me to sit on their last set last night at North Star Restaurant. What a blast...a lifelong dream of mine is to jam with The Meters or Little Feat...jamming with the Hurricanes is pretty damn close...awesome rockin' 'Nawlins style swamp funk!!!!
Thank you Otis & the guys for inviting me to join in on the fun and raise a little ruckus with y'all last night!!!
2010 Fairfield Weekly's Grand Band Slam Winner
"Blues/Blues Rock" category: Otis & the Hurricanes
Fairfield Weekly 8.25.2010
Hurricane Otis was an actual hurricane that lashed the western coast of Mexico in the fall of 2005, decades after Chris Cross, lead singer/guitarist of Otis and the Hurricanes, received his nickname.
Legend has it that Cross’ friends first started calling him “Otis” after he bent his first note on a Fender Telecaster at the tender age of 14, permanently engraining the blues into his persona. Before he fell for the blues genre, Cross was introduced to music like many children of the 1960s, by the British Invasion.
“I’m dating myself but, of course, like many people, I grew up listening to The Beatles and the Stones and that kind of music in the mid-1960s,” says Cross, with a voice more disarming than one would think a blues singer could possess. “That segued into the blues and then that morphed into more of a groove thing. I found myself gravitating towards the New Orleans feel, like Little Feat and the Radiators — blues-based, groove driven tunes.”
Otis is a child of the ‘60s blues resurgence, as are the other five members of the Hurricanes. That era unshackled the genre from the poverty and strife of the rural, post-Civil War South of Robert Johnson and made it increasingly susceptible to the musical melting pot of a changing America.
“The band is 11 years old now and the direction has pretty much been in that New Orleans flavor,” explains Cross, likening the group to a city known so well for its blending of cultures, “that whole jambalaya of music.”
Eleven years with the same set group of musicians breeds a clairvoyance of sorts. One knows what the other will do before he does it. An old blues tune is a blank canvas for the Hurricanes, with each member free to paint with flourishes of color through improvisation without stepping on anyone’s toes. “We’ve got a couple of originals, but we’ll take more obscure tunes and then re-write the rhythms,” says Cross. “We’ve been together long enough that we know what we all like to do.”
One thing about the blues will never change: Each song tells a story. Whether the lyrics speak about a woman, or — well, let’s be honest, it’s usually a woman — a rich tradition of storytelling remains the driving force behind the music. “That’s what really grabs us,” Cross says, “the storylines. They’re just love songs, but the storylines are wonderful and very universal.”
While many believe a hurricane in Fairfield County to be meteorologically improbable, Otis and his Hurricanes have managed to take this category by storm for the third year.
2008 Grand Band Slam Winner
Blues/Blues Rock category: Otis & the Hurricanes
Battering our shoreline for the second year in a row, Otis & the Hurricanes have scored another win in the “Blues/Blues Rock” category.
While the band, which features no one named Otis by birth (it’s the nickname of guitarist/singer Chris Cross), may look like a crew of suburban dads, they’re a different echelon from the dozens of hobby bands started by guys of a certain age. They are, in fact, seasoned professional musicians all—they spent years of their lives working as session players, touring sidemen and bandleaders.
Cross himself was in Blue in the Face and toured with Blues great Debbie Davies. His bandmates can credit, amongst the lot of them, working with James Montgomery, Robert Palmer,the Average White Band and a host of others.
The hard-touring days may be a past chapter of their collective lives—these days, straight jobs and families come first—but still: Your weekend-jamming Uncle Stu does not have these credentials.
While they gig regularly in the county, and occasionally the Northeast, their true inspiration lies down south. Not a straight-up blues or blues-rock band, Otis & the Hurricanes play New Orleans R&B; and Meters-style funk, folded in with a little Zydeco. It’s New Orleans party music, played by pros with wide-ranging experience who all just happen to live around here.
—Brian LaRue-Fairfield Weekly
2007 Grand Band Slam Winner
Blues/Blues Rock category: Otis & the Hurricanes
Chris (Otis) Cross, singer and guitarist for Otis & the Hurricanes is quick to clarify the name of the band is an ode to the brutal drink popular on New Orleans' Bourbon Street, not any of the three hurricanes that have plagued the Atlantic.
The Hurricanes have the kind of easy going yet energetic tunes that one could hear drifting from the open door of a cafe hidden somewhere in the French Quarter.
From a Fan!
Otis & the Hurricanes are one of the best bands in the area. It is impossible to sit still when taking in one of their performances.
Back when I was involved with hiring acts for the SoNo Arts Celebration, I always made a point of including them on our bill. They were always well received and kept the crowd bopping while taking in the eclectic arts that filled the streets of South Norwalk during this Arts Festival.
Not only do they entertain and raise the spirits of their attending revelers, but the fun & enjoyment that they exude while performing for their audiences is infectious.
This is a band not to be missed.
Get out and see local music. Make sure Otis & the Hurricanes is on your list!
They are "Swamperiffic !! "
Saturday Night Otis and the Hurricanes Hit Fairfield by Sam Goldstein
Al's Place December 2005
With this year’s onslaught of devastating hurricanes, it was our turn to get hit with one. And we did...with a good one.
Saturday night, Otis and the Hurricanes played Al’s Place in Fairfield -- And they brought down the house. By moving the stage from the window to the sidewall, Al’s gave its patrons more dance room and a better venue for bands to be heard. So when Otis and the Hurricanes got up on the newly designed stage, they hit it like a Category 5!
Otis and the Hurricanes opened with a blazing rendition of “Cissy Strut.“ It only took a handful of notes before the entire place was in motion. Their special brand of get-up-and-dance, New Orleans Rhythm & Blues - Louisiana Rock & Roll -- didn’t let up till the next day.
Guest guitarist Jim Schanck from the Mill River Band was invited on stage to play “T-Bone Shuffle.” There was also a surprise special guest appearance by Average White Band founder/ singer/ songwriter Alan Gorrie.
The energy and raw power that Gorrie generates with his voice is awe-inspiring. The soulful elegance he brought to “People Get Ready” was moving. Then with two beats of the drum, he seamlessly broke into “It’s Alright.” Again, making Saturday night at Al’s -- way more then average.
So how is it that Otis and the Hurricanes can play with artists of this caliber?
That’s because everyone in the group are artists of that caliber. Everyone in Otis and the Hurricanes are veteran players who have a great understanding of music.
So what makes Otis and the Hurricanes so...so...well, so damn tight? Here’s the break down:
There’s Otis aka Chris Cross. Guitar and lead vocals. Chris played and recorded with Blue in the Face. Went on to raise a family, and now, fortunately for us, has come back to work. Watch Chris play, and you’re amazed how effortless he makes it seem. Listen to him, and hear the virtuoso of a man possessed. And, to his credit, during his solos, he never “overplays his welcome.” He leaves the audience always wanting more. Ask anyone in the business about Chris, and they’ll tell you what a great guitarist and bandleader he is. Chris has been on the road with Debbie Davies as well as opening for Tab Benoit, Average White Band, Buckwheat Zydeco, Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Johnny Winter, James Montgomery and Roomful of Blues to name a few.
As soon as you hear “Smokin’ Joe” Najmy on keyboard/accordion and vocal, you know he’s the real deal. Joe has played with a ton of the best people. During a break-- just name someone and he’s probably played with them.
Joe’s also recorded with Average White Band (yes, with the above mentioned Alan Gorrie), has opened up for Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal and Robert Cray and is believed to have rode up in an elevator with Dr. John.
Chris Bishop: A masterful bassist and vocalist. "CB" is worth the price of admission alone!! He's recorded and toured with Robert Palmer and James Montgomery.
Rick Quintinal - A master of percussion and drummer extraordinaire. Rick is one of the "go to" guys in Fairfield County, toured with Malo and we groove deep with him onboard!
Doug Bernstein, tenor sax. Doug was musical director for Sam Moore (of Sam and Dave) and toured with the Mavericks as well. Just listen to him play and you gotta believe -- his list is strong.
So there you have it. Otis and the Hurricanes’ power is in their experience as seasoned musicians who love to play music and get the house rockin’.
If you want to find out when and where they are playing next -- get on their emailing list via this website or at: OtisMusic1@gmail.com