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The Progress (West Essex Cty. NJ area) 8/11/05

(From The Front Page!)

Hometown musicians are rock’n up a storm

By JEAN NORTON-TORJUSSEN Staff Writer 08/11/2005

Their Music Hopes And Aspirations

CALDWELL – Members of the homegrown rock-and-roll band, “The Kootz,” are middle aged, have day jobs and are very passionate about their music. They also credit the late Dr. David Frisch of Roseland with “putting the group together” back in 1992.

The Kootz released its first CD at the end of June and included on the album is a special tribute to Frisch’s memory.
Life for The Kootz began 13 years ago when Frisch along with Chris Bolger of Roseland and North Caldwell residents Glenn Taylor and Ben Asher formed a group known then as The OMJ (Old-Man-Jam) Band.

Bolger by day is an electrician, Asher is a corporate controller, Frisch was a chiropractor and Taylor owns a recording studio. OMJ performed for years as part of the Caldwell Street Fair entertainment. The group expanded to 15 members and changed its name to The Kootz in 2001.

“He’d be proud of what he launched. He’s the tie that bound us,” said Taylor, spokesperson for The Kootz.

“We played the Street Fair with David for eight years,” Taylor said. “Just the view from the stage evokes a lot of memories.”

Frisch, a chiropractor who died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 2003, is not forgotten. His friends went to great lengths to include a personal tribute on their first CD.

“After he died, we found audio tracks of David playing the harmonica from 2001. We went into the studio and two years later created an underlay to his harmonica recordings. We recorded around it and called it “Blue Beatle.”

Taylor said the idea came from a similar recording made by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison of the Beatles after John Lennon died. In 1995 and 1996, the group recorded harmonies for “Beatles Anthology” using Lennon’s pre-existing audio.

Once The Kootz recording around Frisch’s harmonica was completed, Taylor said the group went back over some of the old tapes he had saved of chatter recorded during rehearsals looking for audio tracks of Frisch.

“We have recorded a lot of rehearsals and I’ve saved everything, When we heard him say, ‘Sounds good to me,’ it connected and that’s what we used at the end of our album.

Taylor said the “jams” were always at Frisch’s house. For years it was home base for the band.

The first copy of the debut CD was given to Frisch’s widow, Paula, who is also known to many as the school nurse at West Essex Regional High School in North Caldwell.

“We owe him thanks for getting us all together and we’re still carrying the torch,” Taylor said.

Self-described as performing “Rock ‘n Roll with Fiber,” a quip meant to poke fun at the 40- to 50-year-old band members, The Kootz sees itself as a traveling road show that offers classic and American rock, pop, blues, jazz and folk. On any given night the performance will include oldies from the 1960s and 1970s as well as original music from any of the genres.

During the summer months, the band often plays back-to-back gigs and manages to meet the grueling schedule by rotating performers, drawing on its 16 or so members to meet the demand.

“I’m loving the ride,” said Taylor who also just happens to own a recording studio, Taylor-Made Productions, in Caldwell.

The Kootz’ debut CD album, “Tales From The Endless Bus Tour of New Jersey,” was released Saturday, June 25. The album includes 11 original songs and five “eclectic” cover-cuts ranging from Bob Dylan to Tommy James. James of Shondells fame is also a Cedar Grove resident who agreed to make a cameo appearance on the CD.

The album is scheduled to receive the “CD Spotlight” on WNTI-FM 91.9 in Hackettstown on Saturday, Aug. 13. Radio host John Hammel will interview The Kootz on the air between 7 and 10 a.m. For anyone outside the reception-range, visit www.wnti.org to listen to WNTI-FM’s streaming broadcast.

If there is a disappointment for Taylor it is that the group has never performed in the West Caldwell summer concert series.

“We’ve performed at the Bacchus Restaurant, the Huddle Inn, Tuscany and Starbucks, but we’ve never been asked to perform in West Caldwell at the gazebo,” Taylor said.

Taylor said this is the third summer that The Kootz has played in 18 different towns.

“We also have about 7,000 fans we send our weekly newsletter to by e-mail,” said Taylor.

Success to Taylor, who says he loves what he’s doing, would include doing more of what the group already does, recording and making albums.

“I’d love to see us make an album with a name label that has national distribution,” said Taylor. “I’d also like to see us get to more concert stages where we’d have an audience’s undivided attention.”

Taylor said that he sees himself as “the straw stirring the drink,” and doesn’t miss a chance to call clubs or make contacts to market the group.

The Kootz will be in concert from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 17 at the Berkeley Heights Summer Concert Series, Memorial Park, Park and Plainfield avenuesin Berkeley Heights. Visit www.thekootz.com for a complete schedule.