Q&A with Nate Hollman, Blue Jackets Game Organist

Anthony Dominic

What kind of organ do you play? A Hammond B-3. Other arenas have more of a theater or church-type organ, but there's a history of Hammond organs in this city. Tony Monaco currently is a world-respected jazz B-3 player, and Hank Marr, for instance.

You're stationed in the stands instead of above the ice. In games, people come over, and their clapping is nowhere near [in sync with] what I'm playing. I just assume it's ornery fans or people who are having a really good time.

When you first got the job, was there a learning curve? One of the weird things is the delay between my playing and what comes out of the PA speakers. So when there is clapping going on, it's not as easy as hearing a clap and playing. I have to get in front of it.

Which city has the toughest visiting fans? The first time the Penguins fans came in, that was a rough experience. No matter what I was doing, really, they were against it. By the end of it, it was a great learning experience, but I didn't feel too good, like I got a little beat up.

Did you get them back in the playoffs? Last year, when we tied-the game we ended up winning at home-there was a fan in front of me who still had beer left. And when Dubinsky scored the game-tying goal, they went (Hollman throws his arms up) and a bunch of beer came back onto the organ. And I had to do the "Chili Chant," so I commented it was, indeed, chilly with beer.

Do you ever play anything off the cuff? Sometimes I'll play some Grateful Dead stuff you won't hear anywhere. Obscure Led Zeppelin tunes; I know the coach is a Zeppelin fan. It's mostly to amuse myself, but sometimes people come up and go, "Hey, that was awesome!"

Little-known facts about Nate:

Hollman has been playing piano for 28 years.

He is a lifelong hockey fan and has followed the Blue Jackets since the team's inception.

Between 1988 and 1994, he saw the Grateful Dead in concert 40 times.