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The Dan White Sextet focuses on being ‘free of imitation’

Columbus-based band the Dan White Sextet formed in 2010 and is made up of OSU students and alumni.  Credit: Courtesy of Zane A. Miller

Columbus-based band the Dan White Sextet formed in 2010 and consists of several OSU students and alumni.
Credit: Courtesy of Zane A. Miller

In an attempt to shine light on local music, The Lantern’s “Columbus’ Own” is a weekly series that will profile a new Columbus band every week.

Dan White, Chris Ott and Jon Lampley, members of local band the Dan White Sextet, went on a road trip to nine cities including Chicago, New Orleans, Nashville and Memphis to speak with older musicians about their experiences.

The trio embarked on this trip not knowing what they wanted the new project to be about, but they knew that they wanted the ideas to grow and develop freely the way their music does. The product is the Dan White Sextet’s next project, “Your Song,” which is greatly inspired by the stories that they heard.

“Halfway through the trip, we started realizing some serious themes that everybody was saying,” White said. “People were thousands of miles apart and were saying the exact same thing, and one of those things that they were saying was that being your own person, being independent is the most important thing you can do as a musician. If you want to add something in this world, it should be your own.”

Formed in 2010, the band is still in the early stages of its musical career, but the members are no strangers to the music industry.

White, who plays saxophone, Lampley, vocalist, trumpet and sousaphone player, and Ott, the trombonist, make up the three core members of the band who write and brainstorm the music, and they are joined by John Hubbell and John Suntken on drums, Adam DeAscentis, bassist, Josh Hill on guitar and Theron Brown and Chris Ziemba as keyboardists.

Lampley, a recent Ohio State graduate in jazz studies, played with O.A.R. for three years as its trumpet player and still continues to tour and record with the band. White and Ott worked with the Disneyland All-American College Band in Anaheim, Calif., last summer.

Suntken, a fourth-year in jazz studies, has to juggle his academics and his involvement with the band.

“We just make it work and sometimes we rehearse at 11:30 at night because that depends on everyone’s schedule,” Suntken said. “There’s a huge level of commitment from everyone in the band. We all work very hard individually trying to master our instruments and we bring that into the band.”

White, Ott and Lampley currently live in Grandview together, but when the trio first met in 2009 at Baker Hall West on South Campus, Lampley was a first-year in psychology, and White and Ott were music education and jazz studies majors in their second and third-years, respectively.

“I was studying psychology because my parents were like, ‘You’ve got good grades, you should pursue something that you would be able to go make a successful, financially lucrative career out of,’” Lampley said. “By the end of my freshman year, I was realizing that as cool as psychology was, I knew I wasn’t passionate about it. I played with the marching band and the gospel choir on campus, and in Baker, I was hanging out with a bunch of music majors, dance majors and performing majors, and I felt like I was just surrounded by people who are doing what I want to do, but I’m not doing it.”

With the OSU Marching Band, Lampley played the sousaphone and had the opportunity to dot the “i” on three separate occasions during “Script Ohio” at football games.

The trio started experimenting a little more than a year ago with Lampley on the sousaphone, White on the saxophone and Ott beatboxing. With this equation, they recorded their adaptation of “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes and six other well-known OSU tunes in a CD titled “Fight the Team.”

When the band first formed, they played in a Worthington coffee shop called Scottie’s Coffee & Tea House, which is now closed.

“We were playing there every week and the focus was on new music — to write and to arrange and to get new material,” White said. “It’s been the foundation of this band, trying to focus on writing, while at the same time, improvise while we’re writing, so every show is different.”

Living together has helped some members of the band achieve better progress in their song writing. Making music is now a “collective process” for the three of them, and they’ve managed to combine their strengths and diverse musical backgrounds to form a good piece, White said.

“We often call each other out when something’s not as good as it should be, or when it’s not from an honest place,” White said. “I think listeners can sense when music is genuine and what its intentions are, and we take that very seriously.”

The band’s latest intention was to relate to all ages by creating modern renditions of childhood tunes in its album “Play,” which was released in August.

“We wanted to try a CD that was a little more accessible to the listener, something the listener already knew,” White said. “The challenge with that was to make it our own, make it something that we would love to play at a bar at 1 a.m. or in a theatre in front of people, or just in a small room with kids, and we’ve been doing all of that.”

The Dan White Sextet is scheduled to perform 10 p.m. Nov. 9 at Dick’s Den, located at 2417 N. High St.

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