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ELLEN S. WILKOWE / DAILY RECORD - Also available in (pdf)

Who: The Kootz
Glenn Taylor: vocals, guitar, keyboards, Emcee
Chris Roselle: vocals, guitar, harmonica
Bob Cianci: vocals, drums
Ben Asher: vocals, bass

Side effects: Frequent exposure may result in synchronized swaying, feet-tapping and urge to dance on bar.

Rx: Repeat dosage as needed or join mailing-list for group support.

Line:"That man across the bar just bought you a drink."

Website: www.thekootz.com

 

"These Old Kootz Have Hampton House Jumpin'!"

Medical experts often tout fiber for its health benefits, namely for keeping the human body, um, regular.

Throw some rock and roll into the mix, and you have The Kootz, as in "a couple of old kootz." Their recipe of "rock and roll with fiber" has made regulars out of the large fan base that follows them around the Garden State.

While many kicked off their weekend in the Hamptons, Kootz fans headed to Hampton, as in the Sussex county town with a small namesake bar with a friendly, lively crowd.

"It's like a 'Cheers,'" said Mishell Cannone of Hampton. "It's mostly local people and the crowd is mixed. A lot of 30 and under."

Housed in a nondescript strip mall on Route 206, Hampton House opened three years ago. The all-pine décor adds a down-home touch to an already relaxed atmosphere. The bartenders on this Friday were attentive, quick on their feet and even delivered one of the oldest icebreakers known to woman.

"That gentleman across the way wants to buy you a drink."

The Hampton House was a debut venue for The Kootz, who regularly perform at The Ringside Pub in Caldwell, Bernie's Hillside in Chester and Great Notch Inn in Little Falls, to name a few from a list of about 50 Kootz-christened spots in the Garden State and New York.

Come summer time, The Kootz bust out with gazebo concerts, rile crowds before fireworks and have been known to crash a few block parties. (They were invited of course.) They also helped usher in 2006 at Morristown's First Night.

The Kootz, according to "chief Kootz and bottle washer" Glenn Taylor, is a spin-off of the Old Man Jam band, a group of classic-rock driven North Jersey musicians, who stepped onto the street fair and club scene in 1993. They reconfigured as The Kootz in 2000 and perform in different incarnations, as a three or foursome.

"We're like a basketball team," Taylor said. "We have 12 guys sitting on the bench and four guys on the floor."

They often change their lineup according to the venue, said Taylor.

Friday night's lineup was as follows: Glenn Taylor, guitar, keyboards and vocals; Chris Roselle, guitar, vocals, harmonica; Ben Asher, bass and vocals; and Bob Cianci, drums and vocals.

The Hampton House parking lot pulsated and the sensation intensified. Bar patrons/Kootz fans bobbed their heads to the beat of "Last Dance with Mary Jane" (Tom Petty), swayed to "Peaceful Easy Feeling" (The Eagles), and stared in awe at a most powerful rendition of "Listening to You/See Me, Feel Me" (The Who).

"I saw them at The Ringside Pub about a month ago," said self-proclaimed groupie Hannah Dougherty of Cedar Grove. "They are very talented musicians."

Hmmm. ...They play well and play well with others. Exhibit A: Taylor kibbitzed with the crowd, yelling shout-outs to familiar faces and honoring special birthday requests to boot. In between sets, he handed out lollipops, an edible marketing tool with the band's motto inscribed on the stick.

Nice touch, but raw talent and word-of-mouth seem to work just fine for this group of rotating musicians.

It was a first-time show for twentysomethings Jessica Baumann and Melissa Simmons. "Thumbs up, definitely," said Baumann.

Former From Good Homes singer/songwriter Patrick Fitzsimmons swung by for his fix of classic rock.

While energetic renditions of classic rock define their very essence, The Kootz last summer revealed their original side. A five-year project in the making, their debut CD, "Tales from the Endless Bus Tour of New Jersey," came to fruition in Taylor's studio, OMJ Productions, in Caldwell.

The 16-track CD compilation contains covers such as Lenny Kravitz's "Believe" and (Fountains of Wayne) Adam Schlesinger's title track from the 1996 movie "That Thing You Do."

"Do it (Don't Try)," and "Flowing Free" showcase guitarist Ray Longchamp's Grateful Dead influences. (Longchamp also plays slide guitar and mandolin.)

Tommy James guest-sings on track 14, "Sweet Cherry Wine." The CD also contains Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages."

The last track "Blue Beetle," is an instrumental blues jam featuring the late founding Kootz member David Frisch on harmonica. The song pays homage to Frisch, who drove a blue beetle, said Taylor.

Ellen S. Wilkowe can be reached at (973) 428-6662 or ewilkowe@gannett.com.