As it appeared in The Ledger on 4/11/03:
Band plays "musical chairs" with 10-member rotation!
By Lisa Rose
When and where: 10 p.m. Friday, The Thirsty Turtle, 99 Morristown Road, Bernardsville, (908) 204-9200; 10 p.m. Saturday, Molly Maguire's Pub, 1085 Central Ave., Clark, (732) 388-6511; 3 p.m. Sunday, Mountain Rest Inn, 17 Wooley Rd., West Milford, (973) 697-9751 How much: No cover in Bernardsville or West Milford; $5 in Clark. For more on the Kootz, go to www.thekootz.com.
The Kootz is less a cover band than a nebulous group of musicians bonded through their shared affection for the sounds of the '60s and '70s. There are 10 Kootz members, including three bassists, four drummers and three guitarists. Everyone sings, but they don't all take the stage at once. Each night, the Essex County-based band features a mix-and-match lineup, depending on who's available.
Each player specializes in a musical flavor - Southern rock, R&B, soft rock or Brit-pop - so the band easily morphs from gig to gig. Their versatility allows them to play more than your standard beer-and-"Freebird" destinations. On a typical weekend, they'll visit a wine bar, a biker bar, a coffee house and a flea market.
" Everyone's interchangeable," said guitarist Glenn Taylor, a founding member. " We can be folkies for a night, and then we can be a real rock band. Our music is so shapeable, too. You can play 'Ziggy Stardust' with an acoustic guitar, or you can play it screaming with a full band. (Our different audiences) don't have much in common, but you feel like you're unifying them."
Two years old now, The Kootz (think "old coot") grew out of the Old Man Jam, a group of musical friends in their 40s and 50s who played the annual Caldwell Street Fair.
Most other local cover acts are "young, lean and mean," Taylor said. "We're old, gray and phlegmy. But I feel like I'm 18 years old every night. There's all the schlepping, and the next day my back hurts, but as soon as the first downbeat happens, it feels no different than it did when I was 10 or 12, playing garbage pails with two guys on plastic guitars."
Band members split their time between Kootzing, day jobs, family and other musical projects. Taylor runs a West Caldwell recording studio, Taylor Made Productions, whose past clients include Tommy James & the Shondells, Tiny Tim, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and wrestler-turned-politician Jesse " The Body" Ventura.
In addition to their 10-member rotation, The Kootz occasionally feature such high-profile guests as drummer Dennis Diken of the Smithereens; multi-instrumentalist Ed Alstrom, who has worked with Bette Midler, Darlene Love and Herbie Hancock; and Bernard Davis, a session drummer whose résumé includes touring and studio work with Steve Winwood and Mariah Carey.
" Between us, there's a couple of centuries worth of rock 'n' roll experience," saidbassist Chris Breetveld, who divides his time between The Kootz and his powerpop act, the Breetles. "There's not enough chance for staleness," he said of playing with such a loose-limbed collective. "Playing with these guys is a chance to unwind and keep your chops up."
Some bands market themselves with glossy posters and T-shirts. The Kootz spread the word through candy bars. At every gig, Taylor seeks out new faces and tosses them Kootz Bars, Hershey bars repackaged with a wrapper that lists the band members as ingredients and includes the address of The Kootz Web site.
The band's slogan is "Rock 'n' roll with fiber," their logo is a bearded strummer seated atop a drum, and their weekly e-newsletters include short stories, timely quips, ruminations and factoids along with the gig listings. Taylor spends about three hours composing these communiques, dreaming up tales of the group's ficto manager Sol Bookbinder and jokingly referring to their corporate headquarters at #1 Kootz Plaza.
" I just hate (other bands' e-mail updates) when I see, 'We're here andwe're here,'" Taylor said. "Why do I spend so much time on (the e-mails)? It's definitely for love, not money."