By Alicia Dziak
Local band The Hootz is on the rise! Not only have they been touring the region and beyond, performing their unique style of “not typical country” music in high-energy shows, but recently, they took a trip to the country music capital of Nashville, Tennessee to record some tracks.
“We had a meeting with our manager, Ben Ewing, and booking agent, Gary Kirves/Artist Events Nashville (when we were playing in Indiana) last month and they mentioned their interest in recording a couple jingles down there,” explained Angela (Ange) Marino, who, along with her husband, Luke, make up The Hootz. “We’ve been writing a lot lately, and so after we sent our demo their way, they decided we should really focus on a single or two. We don’t like to waste time, so as long as we had a break in our tour schedule, we decided let’s just ‘get’r done.’”
Ange, a Salamanca Central High School graduate and Luke, who attended Franklinville Central, took a brief break and headed south.
“We were lucky enough to record at Ocean Way Nashville/Studio B, were country legends such as Tim McGraw, Gretchen Wilson, Garth Brooks, The Dixie Chicks, Rascal Flats, Sheryl Crow, Faith Hill, Willie Nelson and many, many other artists have recorded,” Ange said. “We recorded two new tunes last week. The first song is called, ‘Drink About It,’ which has a tropical Caribbean feel that showcases our harmonies and will be perfect for the summer. The other is called ‘Don’t Call Me Crazy,’ which is a little spicier and has a Rockabilly/1950’s rock & roll feel to it, mixed with some contemporary lyrics. They’re ‘feel good’ songs, which is what we try and portray at our live shows.”
Ange noted the collaborative effort it took to produce the tracks.
“It was unreal to work with the caliber of engineers, producers and musicians we had helping us,” she said. “Richie Owens was our engineer, who is not only Dolly Parton’s first cousin and past band mate, but also was her engineer on Hungry Again. He’s also been credited for engineering GA Satellites Platinum & Gold records, and worked with artists such as Vince Gill, Michael Stipe, Social Distortion and The Bangles. He has an amazing ear for where and what needs to be tracked, and he also contributed his talent as a musician as he laid down some mandolin, guitar, ukulele and keyboard tracks on these two tunes.
Studio session musicians included Dave Roe Rorick (the bass player for Johnny Cash, Rosie Carter, Ray Lamontagne, Faith Hill, John Mellencamp, Vince Gill, etc.); his son and drummer Jerry Roe Rorick who has toured with Michelle Branch, Gretchen Wilson, The Wreckers, Tyler Hilton, Carlene Carter and others; Don Wayne Reno, who plays banjo for Hayseed Dixie; and Chris Carmichael, recognized for his fiddle playing with artists such as Martina McBride, Hank Williams III, Sara Evans, Toby Keith and others.
“Ewing was our overall producer. He rallied the troops for us down yonder and had the final say on the material,” Ange explained. “He’s a true inspiration about what can be done with a little hard work. We pulled some rather long days/nights, but boy was it worth it!”
While Ange and Luke were able to have a little free time in Nashville, the trip was mostly business.
“Being in the studio is high energy, mixed with some intense pressure, especially since it’s a pretty penny to pull something like this off,” Ange said. “When we first walked through the studio halls and saw the huge list of celebrities who recorded in that exact place, I felt a bit overwhelmed, but everyone there made us feel at ease and right at home. I just thank the music gods for aligning the stars for us to even have this opportunity. What a feeling!”
When can fans get their hands on the new tracks?
“The goal right now is to have our management pitch these songs to all the major labels, so currently they are on hold for release/purchase,” Ange explained. “All of our latest news can be found on www.thehootz.com and we are anticipating a release in the near future.”
As if a week in Nashville wasn’t enough, The Hootz returned to play at the Boots N Hoses music festival Memorial Day weekend in Allegany.
“Boots N Hoses was a huge success and so much fun!” Ange said. “This was our third time sharing the stage with Josh Thompson, and gosh does he know how to put on a show. The Fire Department did a great job coordinating this festival. We’ve played a lot of different festivals in Syracuse & Rochester; but this was the first real big event in our own community that we were invited to. It was great to have so many family and friends in attendance.”
On the rare occasion that The Hootz is not performing, they’re still supporting the local music scene. “When we are not playing, we try to find other local bands that are,” Ange said. “We love to dance, and it’s important to support live entertainment. So often today you’ll find a DJ or a Karaoke machine in place of a live band. I don’t know about you, but when I go out to dance, I feed off the energy of the band…and love getting ideas for our live show, too. It’s a pretty cool art! Of course, we’re always writing, practicing and working on the business end of our music on our down time as well.”
With a loyal and growing fan base, Ange urges her fans to follow their dreams.
“Back when I was working my day job, I dreamed about singing in front of thousands of people and imagined what it would be like to sing as a full-time career. Well, dreams really do come true!” Ange said. “‘You bring about what you think about’ and I really believe that. I know that sounds super corny, but staying positive and knowing what you want…now that’s the real challenge.”
She also added a special thank you. “I’d just like to give a quick thanks to all our friends and family out there who took a risk on our endeavors and really believe in us: Luckless Clothing Co., our parents, grandparents, fans, band mates (both live & studio musicians/techs), Ben Ewing, Gary Kirves/Artist Events Nashville, and of course the Ellicottville Times for this beautiful write-up. We love you guys!”
Upcoming nearby shows include the Cancer Isn’t Always Pink benefit on Saturday, May 30 in Randolph, Hollywood Happening on Sunday, May 31 in Gowanda, and performances on June 27 and July 3 at Seneca Allegany Casino.
For information and a complete list of tour dates, visit www.thehootz.com and like them on Facebook.