The O-Tones News
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Great review of The O-Tones from “Music Revue”
“Great music like The O-Tones’ repertoire is timeless. The trio of vocalists have their own style, blending their voices in original ways to fit each song. Each singer is versatile at leads as well as great at harmonizing. …cool organ and piano excursions as well as soulful sax stylings over a solid rhythm foundation.”
— Paul Burton, Music Revue
All 5 Star Reviews – The O-Tones – great wedding band choice!
Check out our reviews on The Knot, a premiere wedding website. All 5 Star Reviews – The O-Tones – great wedding band choice!
posted 10/23/2016 The O-Tones where the perfect choice for our spectacular wedding. Great selection of songs. Mary Witt was beyond exceptional, and the band was very accommodating. Highly recommend you check these folks out! Well worth the money spent.
- posted 1/16/2016 The O-Tones were perfect It couldn’t have been easier to work with Mary and the O-Tones. All the negotiations regarding set list, timing, price were straightforward and painless. We were so happy to have live music at our wedding. Our guests loved them. Their show(wo)manship was just right for our setting and guests. They are wonderful musicians, Mary has a gorgeous voice, and having them really added such a special, memorable aspect to our wedding. We are a two woman couple and were completely respected; working with the O-Tones was comfortable. I imagine they can work with any couple, regardless of race, religion (or lack thereof), creed, or gender composition. They are smart, caring, honest, fun people! There was not one thing that could’ve gone better. We feel so fortunate that this worked for us. Thank you Mary and the O-Tones!
posted 12/16/2015 Amazing O-Tones We hired the O-Tones for our wedding celebration, and in fact we hired them before we even had a venue! Our band contact, Mary Witt, went above and beyond, helping us with her knowledge of local venues and caterers in Western Mass. The band played a perfect mix of swing, jazz, and Motown. The guests were delighted to dance and all had great compliments for the band. The O-Tones were incredibly easy to work with, their sound was beautiful, and I would absolutely recommend them.
- posted 10/23/2016 The O-Tones were fantastic! We loved having them play at our wedding. They made the reception so much fun!
posted 10/23/2016 We were very lucky to have The O-Tones perform at our wedding. They have a great sound and kept the crowd going. I would recommend them for anyones wedding!
- posted 9/5/2016 (updated 9/22/2016) Withstanding the Test of Time and Bringing the Beauty of the Past, to Us. My partner and I felt The O-Tones was the best choice for our commitment ceremony, with Mary Witt making it easy to contact and make arrangements. Their mix of Jazz, R&B, Swing, Rock and Motown was perfect for our multi-generational guests. At times it was like stepping out of 21st century and sliding into the 1930’s through to the 50’s and present day, leaving our guests with a number of favorite genres to get on their feet and dance to. We were so pleased with the sound, the arrangement, and energy level that they had and brought out in our quests. Mary appreciated that we were having a black tie event and beautifully/handsomely blended into the lovely setting at The Amherst Women’s Club. We have since seen The O-Tones play in other venues and continue to enjoy their sound, music, style and energy. You will be pleasantly surprised with The O-Tones and pleased with your guests’ reaction.
posted 7/1/2016 The O-Tones are so awesome to work with!! Pure perfection in a great dancing band, stellar selection of songs, supreme musicianship. I can’t recommend them enough.
- posted 12/27/2015 O-Tones are pure entertainment! We hired Mary Witt & The O-Tones for our daughter’s wedding. There wasn’t a stiil foot or a frown among the 180 assembled – they were everything we hoped they’d be and more. HIRE THEM!
posted 12/15/2015 Great Swing/Motown/Dance band Good live music powers the kind of party that I want to throw. The O-Tones played our wedding party in 2014. We are serious dancers and trad musicians, and booked the band first, before anything else. We wanted something the whole family would enjoy, not just swing and motown but some songs in waltz time, and Beatles to keep the British side happy. The O-Tones delivered admirably, fine musicians that they are, and were the lynchpin of a great party. Us and our guests were dancing for hours. Mary Witt was also a huge help with logistics. She recommended the venue and caterer that we used, very happily. The band brought the sound system and operated it flawlessly including for the speeches. They were perfectly pleasant and professional; we’ve remained facebook friends with Mary.
- posted 12/15/2015 THE best!!! Talented, swinging, professional, flexible, amazing energy, warm and very fun!!!!!!
posted 12/13/2015 The best part of the party! The O-Tones knew that we had invited a mix of swing dancers and non-swing dancers to our wedding, as well as people of all ages. Over the course of the reception, they played just the right mix of music to get most everyone up and dancing! Even those who didn’t dance commented on enjoying the music. Though it was quite a few years ago, now, I remember the dancing part of the reception most of all. Mary Witt was open to all of our questions and suggestions, then at the reception we were free to relax and enjoy. I can’t recommend this talented group of musicians highly enough. They added an additional level of bliss to an already fantastic day!
Valley Wed wedding fair a big success!
We had a wonderful time participating in Valley Wed, wedding showcase on October 16 at Quonquont Farm in Whately, Massachusetts. The historic barn is home to many weddings and private party surrounded by apple orchards, and was host to Valley Wed, a unique wedding fair for select vendors throughout the Pioneer Valley. We had a table showing The O-Tones website with video highlights as well as a free digital download of our latest album Groove Duets and a color postcard describing our wedding services. We can play for your ceremony, cocktails, dinner, and dancing! The barn and yard were filled with vendors for flowers, food, rings, gifts, invitations, and much more. Everyone had a wonderful time exploring the bountiful options offered.
More kudos Groove Duets album!
“I am so enjoying your disc, it’s fabulous! Congratulations to you!
Your voice is so soft and beautiful. And there is some sort of low jazzy thing going on there, good for you!
Thanks a lot for your talent.”
Read more reviews of Groove Duets here:
Check us out on our wedding websites!
Here are some wedding websites where we have profiles. It’s a great way to find out what we can provide for weddings: ceremony music, music for cocktails, dinner, and dancing at the reception! All ages love our music, a great way to bring generations together to celebrate.
Check out our Reverbnation profile on Facebook.
Listen to songs, find out more info and go to our website for more fun facts and music! Swing, Soul, Motown.
Great reviews on “Groove Duets” CD!
Problem! You forgot to include the surgeon general’s warning on your new CD that it is totally addictive and could result in massive losses of time from other activities due to the inability to stop listening to this fantastic record. I hope you’re not going to face any legal consequences but if so I know you’ll be up to defending yourself. 🙂 totally loving the record! Plan to write the reviews next week after I stop dancing.
This is a most wonderful collection. Aside from the gorgeous voice of Mary Witt and the masterful musicianship of her colleague friends, the selections are artfully executed with full heart, communicating each song’s mood and message. The album is a delight as a whole from start to finish, each song resolving something left from the one preceding and anticipating the one following. I’m so glad I have this CD to listen to and share.
Listened to your CD while cooking, had a great time, really like the CD a lot, thinking of lots of people in my life to give it to for gifts. Loved your CD release party as well. Congrats on a really great CD, love the variety of songs and voices and instruments! It’s so smooth and polished sounding.
Review of Groove Duets in Jazz Weekly! We are so honored to be in www.jazzweekly.com, amid many talented musicians.
Vocalist Mary Witt leads and plays bass with a soulful band called The O-Tones, which have been a main stay in New England for over 20 years. The rhythm secion of Jeff Dostal/b, Jim Henry/g, Pieter Struyk/dr and Chhris Haynes/keys is supplemented by a horn section and are able to deliver some funky Memphis Stew as on “Drop On Me” or sound like Fleetwood Mac on the poppy “Consequences of Falling.” Witt’s voice is rich and earnest, delivering an easy rock to “Leavin’” and making you feel like The Eagles got a female singer on “Livin’ It.” Upbeat and uplifting.
We are so excited to announce our new profile at The Knot, just in time for couples looking to book New England live wedding bands! You can see some of our favorite wedding YouTube videos at our wedding page, here on our site.
Here is some of our highlights from our new profile that talks all about how we are thrilled to be one of their New England live wedding bands.
“Fun, professional, rockin’ and swingin’ Dance Band
The O-Tones, a hot New England Swing & Motown band, appeals to all ages. With lots of soul, they’ll melt your hearts & get your feet dancing. The O-Tones band has been playing for events in New England since 1990 & is a dynamic entity. Over their lifespan, various singers & instrumentalists have lent their talents to the band’s fun & professional Swing, Motown, Blues, & Soul sound. The basic group is 6-piece with three singers, sax, guitar, piano, bass, & drums, but this talented group performs regularly in many forms, ranging from duo to the full 6-piece and even a 14-piece big band! They can play for weddings, parties, dances, fundraisers, & other events. Perfect music for your wedding ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, as well as dancing! They have many happy clients to recommend them.”
Get your tickets now and come join us at Mayor Alex Morse’s Inaugural Ball! We are excited to be bringing our quartet to this fun, celebratory event at the Log Cabin, a beautiful view on the Easthampton/Holyoke line. Come toast Alex Morse, a young, innovative mayor who has brought huge changes to Holyoke in his mayoral time. It’s thrilling to be part of this piece of history in the making. And you will be able to look over the Easthampton valley, a lovely site to see. There will be good food, good people, and good music for listening and dancing! January 16, 2016
Click here to read a fun interview about how we got to making Groove Duets and some history of The O-Tones. How they met, how they ended up in Massachusetts from Atlanta! You’ll learn little known facts about The O-Tones, their musical repertoire, and how they make all their songs their own.
Ken Maiuri’s Clubland: Mary Witt and the O-Tones release new album
By KEN MAIURI, Photo by Carol Lollis
Friday, November 6, 2015
(Published in print: Thursday, November 5, 2015)
Mary Witt, with and without her bass guitar, has been busy in the Valley music community for nearly 25 years, playing with her group The O-Tones — but not in the usual bars and clubs.
The O-Tones specialize in putting a personal spin on other artists’ songs, performing at parties, dances, fundraisers, restaurants, street fairs and other people-filled places.
“We play weddings, but we’re not a wedding band,” she explained in an interview last week. “We don’t play ‘every song in the book.’ We choose songs we love, and really make them our own.”
Witt and The O-Tones have a brand-new CD out, a 15-song collection called “Groove Duets,” on which she shares vocals with a dozen local singers, including Tracy Grammer, Samirah Evans, Jim Henry, Barbara Ween, Tom Mahnken (Trailer Park), Anand Nayak (Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem), Ellen Cogen, Annie Patterson and others.
There will be a CD release party featuring all the guest singers from the new record, backed by an expanded O-Tones lineup: Jim Henry, John Mason, John Caban and Nayak on guitars, Chris Haynes (who co-produced the album with Witt) on accordion, Jeff Dostal and Mary Witt on bass and Pieter Struyk on drums, plus a big-time horn section of Charles Neville, Jon Weeks, Don Anderson, Kerry Blount and Joe Sabol. It all happens at the Florence VFW Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m.
“Groove Duets” shows off every angle of the band, from its swing/jazz/blues side (“The No Soap, No Hope Blues”) to ’60s soul feels (“The Walk”) to more recent material, like the standout opening track, Mutlu’s 2008 song “Livin’ It.” Witt and her band give the tune a smooth ’70s groove, with dusky keyboards and multiple trumpet solos.
Witt was born in Syracuse, New York, but at age 9 moved to North Carolina, where she was attracted to the soul and R&B she heard on the radio. In junior high, when she wasn’t practicing dance moves in front of the mirror, she was falling in love with vocal jazz.
After graduating from Oberlin College, she moved to Atlanta, where she played French horn in her sister’s eclectic folk/bluegrass/gospel group (Elise Witt and Small Family Orchestra) and sang backup vocals, harmonizing with her sibling.
One fateful day, famous folk/roots duo Jay Ungar & Molly Mason came through Atlanta to play a contra dance. They put out brochures about Ashokan, the upstate New York center where they’ve hosted music and dance programs since 1980. Jay & Molly’s visit inspired Witt to make the northerly trek to attend Ashokan’s Western and Swing Week; the seven days of contra and swing dancing and music/vocal classes changed her life.
“What a blast. I met the future singer of The O-Tones, Ann Percival, in the bathroom. We were harmonizing spontaneously,” Witt said. “It’s not that easy to find people to harmonize with, and when you do, it’s really fun.”
Witt and Percival kept in touch, doing swing dance gigs together in Atlanta and up north in Percival’s Massachusetts environs; eventually Witt moved to the Valley to be in a band with her, full-time.
Percival still performs with The O-Tones (when she’s not busy touring with her other band, Wild Asparagus), and is one of the duet singers on the new CD, appearing on the cover of Jessica Molaskey & John Pizzarelli’s “Adam & Eve.”
Witt filled the new album with favorite tunes by Allen Toussaint (“Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further”), Cole Porter (“At Long Last Love”), Brooks Williams (“Last Chance Love”) and more modern singer/songwriters like Shelby Lynne and James Hunter.
“Only one song was already a duet,” she said. “The rest we arranged to work as a conversation.”
“In picking songs in The O-Tones, I want ones that my bandmates and I love to sing and play, ones that make other people smile and dance. As soon as we change a vocal solo song into three-part harmony arrangements, it’s ours,” she said.
Over the last quarter of a century, Witt and her bandmates have brought those three-part harmonies to a number of unique parties and places — in Boston skyscrapers overlooking the bay, on an island in Maine where they had to transport their gear by motorboat, and a wedding where 25 of the guests were from England and the band fulfilled all their requests for Beatles tunes.
The O-Tones’ could play all sorts of songs at its VFW “Groove Duets” celebration — its repertoire stretches back to the 1930s — but will definitely perform the new album in its entirety. There will be a swing dance lesson before the show from 7:30 to 8 p.m. All attendees receive a free digital download of the new album with the price of admission.
Ken Maiuri can be reached at email@example.com.
Mary Witt sings duets with 12 singers
backed by a great band,including horn section!
We have CDs and digital download cards for Groove Duets.
If you want to order a CD(s) or digital download card(s),
please contact us through our Contact Page.
Or order them (CD or digital downloads) from CD Baby.
They pay musicians 91% of sales, so fine to go there if easier for you!
You can also listen to the album here on Soundcloud
Thank you for your support!
Musicians on the CD:
What do you love about your job?
I get to play, sing and play bass on music that I love. I do this with people who are inspiring and fun to work with. We play lots of different types of gigs from weddings and parties to fundraisers and festivals. Our clients are always so appreciative, generous and grateful to have live music at their events. There are a lot of things about playing music for a living that are very satisfying, and it inspires me to keep on doing it.
What or who inspired you to start your own business?
My mother inspired me to start my business. She was always coming up with innovative ways to earn money and spend her time bringing me to cultural events. She was always way ahead of her time and advocating for people who could benefit from her talents.
Describe your most memorable project.
We just finished making a CD, Groove Duets. This is my album where I am singing duets with 12 other singers backed by a full band including horn section. It’s been an exciting, inspiring, educational, and a fun project. One thousand CDs will arrive and digital downloads are also available. It was cool to sing with so many different types of singers on songs ranging from funky blues to swing to ballads, even a waltz and a rumba!
Thank you Hampshire Life and Daily Hampshire Gazette for the great shout out about our upcoming recording project “Groove Duets” and gig schedule!
Pioneer Valley needs to feature its swing bands at regular dances: Jane Kaufman
Tom and Barbara Henderson, of Hadley, West Coast Swing to the music of the O-Tones at an event called the Bootleg Ballroom at the Northampton Center for the Arts in this Jan. 28, 2012 file photo. (David Molnar / The Republican file)
They featured bands (not DJs) and lots of dancers.
Now, sadly, the ballroom isn’t being used as a dance floor, and there are no regular swing dances featuring music by bands in Northampton, at least not on a regular basis.
Yes, the Loft at the Clarion has a small dance floor available to dancers on the edge of the room during its Tuesday night jazz workshops hosted by pianist Paul Arslanian, who leads the Green Street Trio. But that doesn’t really count (partly because the floor is small, but mostly because the music isn’t designed for dancers).
In fact, there are no regular swing dances in Western Massachusetts on a regular basis — anywhere.
In a part of the world that prides itself on its cultural amenities, that’s a sorry state of affairs.
Yes, Gateway City Arts in Holyoke occasionally holds a dance featuring the fabulous O-Tones. Led by supple-voiced alto Mary Witt, who plays electric bass, the band is tight and smooth. With a wide repertoire ranging from standards to Motown, Witt has, when called upon to do so, put together a 14-piece big band, most notably to play one of the annual outdoor swing dances at the Springfield Armory that commemorates Benny Goodman’s performance there in the 1940s. The O-Tones’ next public gig is at the Paradise City Arts Festival in March 21 — in Marlboro.
There is a well run swing dance the first Friday of the month in West Hartford’s beautiful Town Hall featuring excellent bands from across New England, but West
Hartford isn’t exactly in Western Massachusetts.
In fact, there are no regular swing dances in Western Massachusetts on a regular basis — anywhere.
And, swing bands do occasionally play at the Arts Block in Greenfield, where there is a wooden dance floor. Brattleboro-based Butterfly Swing Band has been featured a few times lately. Don’t let its sweet sounding name steer you wrong. There is nothing fragile about this band. Featuring Scott Sizer on trumpet, Walter Slowinski on clarinet and alto sax, Mark Anagnostopulos, on silk-stringed guitar and vocals, Lynn Lovell on her one-quarter upright bass, and Joe LoMonaco on drums, this band plays high-energy, fast-paced numbers from the ’20s to the ’40s.
Then there’s Girl Howdy, based in Greenfield, which plays an entirely different version of swing: ” classic honky tonk and vintage twang,” to quote the band’s Facebook page. And they do it well. They don’t just cover, they compose — with a wink. Their latest album features the title song “Honky Tonk Hair.” Girl Howdy includes pedal steel guitarist Rose Sinclair, who gives the band its unmistakable twang. Betsy Dawn Williams plays guitar, and Paula Bradley plays piano. Backing up the women, who, by the way, dress the part in matching colorful Western-themed costumes, are bassist Brian Rost and Billy Nadeau on drums. Their next advertised gig is May 2 at Johnny D’s Uptown — in Somerville.
All of these bands regularly treat their audiences to three-part harmony.
And, did I mention big bands?
The Holyoke based Bad News Jazz & Blues Orchestra, an 18-piece big band, made its debut at an outdoor concert at the Florence Community Center featuring vocalist Cindy Reed in 2012. Reed’s phrasing is impeccable. And band leader Jeff Gavioli brings together a great group of musicians who play interesting solos and excellent arrangements of standards. At its debut performance, the group sounded like it had been playing together for decades. The orchestra’s next engagement is May 29. It’s playing a fundraising dinner dance for the Agawam Cultural Council.
Clearly, there’s no lack of talent in the Pioneer Valley to play swing dances. And, there are plenty of swing dance teachers and regularly scheduled lessons in the region. That means there are dancers with jittery feet waiting for a regular swing dance series featuring live music.
What may be lacking is the willingness on the part of an enterprising dance organizer to risk booking bands such as these for a regular event.
Here’s hoping someone with the cash and the time will take the risk. It just might pay off.
Jane Kaufman edited “Our Stories: The Jews of Western Massachusetts.” She is a copy editor for The Republican.
Mary Witt presented at Nerd Night Noho January 6, 2013 at World War II club in Northampton. Mary Witt of The O-Tones talks about her relationship to music and visual art and how they interplay in her creative life. She showed slides of her paintings while playing music by The O-Tones and explains how for her the visual and musical evolutions are similar for her, complementary and symbiotic. By showing her process in both art forms, one can see that she was raised with both as priorities in her life. They speak to each other through her.
Mary Witt and Anand Nayak sang and played on Bill Newman Show WHMP.
And a link to Mary & Zack of The O-Tones Tones on WHMP, Bill Newman Show with Penny Burke of Northampton Center for the Arts. Go get a cup of tea and settle in.
Great article about Northampton Center for the Arts and Bye Bye Ballroom by Jane Kaufman in Masslive.
Here’s a link to an article about arts in the area, including Bye Bye Ballroom that we played.
Check out this quick TV clip about Bye Bye Ballroom.
Nice article on Mass Live!
Editorial: Don’t miss Gateway City Arts Project’s dance party Saturday featuring the O-Tones, Samirah Evans and John Sheldon
The brainchild of artists Lori Divine and Vitek Kruta, Gateway City Arts is a bit like a playground for artists, performers, teachers and craftsmen.
The Holyoke work and art space includes places to meet, host events, work, create and learn. It has studio space for dancers, artists, ceramicists and woodworkers as well as shared and private work space, meeting and event spaces.
Housed in a Holyoke mill at 92-114 Race Street, the space features wood floors ideal for dancers, big windows ideal for artists, and wide open spaces ideal for those working on large projects and teaching the arts.
The founders recently celebrated the second anniversary of Gateway with a dance party.
Those who missed it have a second chance to celebrate with a sizzling sounding dance with the Northampton-based O-Tones led by the sultry alto Mary Witt, who plays bass. When she counts off a song, she means it.
While the O-Tones are known as a swing band, on Saturday the band will take on additional flavors – of blues, R&B, Motown — with the addition of Samirah Evans, the popular jazz and blues vocalist who hails from New Orleans, and John Sheldon, who was Van Morrison’s lead guitarist.
The party starts at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Dancers won’t want to miss it. Listeners who enjoy toe-tapping music and impeccable vocal harmonies won’t want to either.
Paradise City Arts Festival used one of our songs on their site.
We’ve played there the last few years. We look forward to playing there again in the future!
Greenfield Recorder Article: Mary Witt will be part of this Ladies in Jazz Series in the future!
The O-Tones are one of the premier New England Wedding Reception Bands! Upbeat and Uplifting, they have been a mainstay in New England for over 20 years.
The O-Tones featured!
O-Tones’ song on National TV!
Our song “Spring Cleaning” (from our CD “Ain’t That a Kick”) was on the Today Show in2008! A special on spring cleaning starts off with The O-Tones song with special tips for spring cleaning (including ketchup, coffee beans, and vanilla!).
The O-Tones hit British TV!
The TV programme “It’s Me Or The Dog” also used our song “Spring Cleaning”. In this particular episode, the owners are clearing up the mess their two dogs made. The show was on British TV plus Animal Planet in the USA.
The O-Tones named “best swing band in the valley”
(Pioneer Valley of MA) numerous times, voted by listeners in the Valley Advocate¹s Grand Band Slam.
Two O-Tones’ songs included on two different Oasis Jazz Samplers!
Oasis Manufacturing pressed both our CDs and included us twice on the jazz compilations: 2000 “Just Squeeze Me” from “Ain’t That a Kick” and 2006 “Come Dance With Me” From “Dance With Me” by Mary Witt, including all The O-Tones.
Recommended wedding photographer we’ve worked with: Derek Fowles