Cootie Brown
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Cootie Brown


Band Jazz Funk


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“Late Saturday night I joined a bunch of the meteo grads at Zeno's to watch "Cootie Brown," a jazz funk/fusion band. It was their first gig in State College, and we were all excited to go hear them. They played in Lemont once this summer but I couldn't make it (I was bummed I didn't get to hear the song about the Lemont-ster!), so I was really looking forward to this. And I must say, Cootie Brown is definitely the best band that I've heard in State College in my year-plus of living here. There's such an over saturation of 80s/90s cover bands that it's refreshing to hear something different. That, and I really like that kind of music too. :-) The owner of Zeno's was pointed out to me, and I told him, "You guys really should hire Cootie Brown more often," to which he replied, "They'll be back." (And this was before he went on stage and jammed out with them during one of their last songs!) A few of us stuck around for both sets, all the [way] until they finished at 2:15am, so I was tired today but it was very worth it! I had tons of fun, and I can't wait until they play again here in State College!” - Jared Lee, CB Fan

“First off I have to say that you guys rocked the roof off the stage....You had the best performance Locust Grove has ever seen. I want to thank you all for playing at our Summer Weekend and I hope you all enjoyed it and had a great time. Plan for next year as well. Love Love Love your music!” - Jared Tarr, Co-founder

[Thursday, July 13, 2006 ]

Lemont Village to feature rookie student group

By Kevin Doran
Collegian Staff Writer

The Friday Concerts on the Lemont Village Green series continues this week when new local band Cootie Brown comes to play at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The show will be the second the band has ever played together, having just completed its four-member lineup in April when drummer Jim DeVoss joined the band. However, DeVoss said the band has steadily improved, culminating in its tightest session yet at a performance in Lock Haven Saturday.

"It was the best time we've collectively played together for an extended period of time," DeVoss said. "We've been hiding because we want to get a lot under our belt."

Though the band members are relatively new to each other, they are not new to their instruments. Each member has been playing music for a long time, the band members said.

The band got started when Brian Eckert (bass, didgeridoo and vocals) started playing with Ryan Alford (guitar) near the end of November. Jacob Haqq-Misra (congas) joined in January, and the band's current four-piece incarnation was completed when DeVoss joined in April.

While the name Cootie Brown had been used by one of Eckert's previous bands, he said this incarnation of the band is a completely new one. It got started when Eckert and Alford started jamming and found immediate chemistry.

"We just clicked," Alford said.

Haqq-Misra was shocked when the band replied to his post on the Internet within one day.

"I posted on, and the next day they'd responded already," he said.

The group members said the whole band was formed through the Web site in one way or another.

While DeVoss is from State College, the rest of the band members are here because of their connection to Penn State. Haqq-Misra is a graduate student, and the other two are alumni. They had all been actively looking to join a band when Cootie Brown came together.

"I said to myself, 'That's my project for the semester,' " Haqq-Misra said.

The band does not classify itself as any specific genre of music.

"We play funk, jazz, reggae, with a space element," DeVoss said. "Everyone we can think of has influenced us."

Despite the popularity many local bands have from playing in bars in State College, Eckert welcomes his band's acceptance to other markets.

"There's a real audience of people under 21," he said.

Though the band plays one cover, its music is "99 percent original," Eckert said.

The band said that its style would be welcome at the Village Green, which has a family atmosphere to its shows.

"I've had 4-year-olds dance to our music," Eckert said.

Hajj-Misra agreed. "I don't think our music offends anyone," he said.

Eckert said the band's style brings a lot of variety to the table, due both to all of the musician's styles and backgrounds.

"We play something for everybody," he said. - The Daily Collegian

[Wednesday, February 14, 2007 ]

On The Scene: Cootie Brown

By Jessica Savrock
For Blue Weekly

If the number seven is truly the luckiest of them all, then the members of Cootie Brown should continue to thank their lucky stars. Since having officially played their first gig as a seven-piece group in November 2006, Cootie Brown has succeeded in recording more than six hours of original material, and securing regular gigs at Zeno’s and Bar Bleu. This is something almost unheard of on our local, typically mainstream cover-band music scene.

“We’re happy that places like Zeno’s have given us a chance to build an audience,” said drummer Jim DeVoss.

And build an audience they did. According to the band members, their first show at Zeno’s in November was played to a packed house, and they’ve received nothing but great feedback ever since.

“A lot of people say they’re glad to hear something fresh in State College,” said Jacob Haqq-Misra, who plays congas in the band.

Cootie Brown plays a mix of funk, jazz, reggae and jam music (I learned that “jamming” means to make it up as you go).

“We like to improv a lot, because that’s where the music is most alive – in the moment,” said bassist Brian Eckert. “But most importantly, we have created this music for the live music scene – for people to chill to, to dance to, etc., and we craft our set order (often times on the spot) based on the vibe.”

“It really is a different show each time you see us, which makes us truly all original,” added Mike “Fort” Fortunato, who plays woodwinds for the group.

According to the band, their shows at Bar Bleu are usually a little more jazzy, while the performances at Zeno’s have a more high-energy, funky sound.

“A lot of times [our performance style] will depend on the crowd,” said guitarist Ryan Alford. “If we see people grooving, we’ll feed off of that.”

One might think that seven members in a band are too much. However, Cootie Brown uses its size as an advantage, and positioned itself as one of the most unique bands in the area.

“No other band in this town can make the sounds that we make,” said keyboard player Jordan Thompson.

“We’re seven guys who are lucky to have found each other,” said Alford.

“I still have to count people at practice to make sure we’re all there!” joked Haqq-Misra.

So what’s next for this up-and-coming band? They want to continue to expand their presence on the local scene, and especially cater to more all-ages crowds.

“Our fans are just so amazing,” said Fortunato. “It’s great to play to people who know music.”

Press your luck with Cootie Brown at 10:30 p.m. Tuesdays at Zeno’s now through spring break (with the exception of this week). You can also see frequent shows at Bar Bleu.

“We are the funkiest, hardest-working seven-piece band,” said DeVoss.

“We work hard so you don’t have to,” joked Fortunato. - Centre Daily Times

[Friday, September 28, 2007 ]

Cootie Brown Releases Trifecta

By Dennis Fallon
For The Centre Daily Times

Artist: Cootie Brown
Albums: “Meltdown,” “Cootie Brown Strikes Back” and “Out of the Bleu”
Label: Breeze Records

Happy Valley’s own masters of the jam, Cootie Brown, will blow the lid off convention this weekend as the band releases its first three albums simultaneously. Completed in the past year—also the band’s first year—the seven-piece Cootie Brown takes the normal confines of a jam band and layers it with the bass, didgeridoo, horns, keyboard and drums of all shapes and sizes.

Through a trilogy of sorts, Cootie Brown’s three-album extravaganza charts the course of its musical maturity while each album stands as its own slice of jam-band pie.

“Meltdown”: This disc features the earliest material from Cootie Brown, and it shows. Simple rhythm arrangements and sparse instrumentation give the record a slightly raw production, but plenty of horn action and groove give this record a funk feel with 1970s soundtrack flavor. At times meandering but still tasty, it’s a hint at a band on the grow.

“Cootie Brown Strikes Back”: A clever and upbeat collection of thick grooves and rock-fueled jams highlights this album. Songs such a “Snaggletooth” are perfect examples of jam band nirvana. Faster and funnier, “Strikes Back” is full of big keyboards and plenty of vocals (which most Cootie Brown songs forsake), and the album’s dance grooves are infectious, combining disco, rock and island beats to create the most accessible and best album of the trilogy.

“Out of the Bleu”: The newest and most mature album yet, “Bleu” delves deep into jazz territory and rarely ventures out. Confidence and tasteful playing abound, and the band members seem at their most subdued and comfortable. If “Meltdown” and “Strikes Back” were growing pains, then “Out of the Bleu” is a grown-up band playing grown-up music.

Drummer James DeVoss and saxophone man Michael Fortunato have never sounded better. Not a jam-band album at all, “Out of the Bleu” is for jazz fans and sophisticated ears only, as there is little hint here of the band’s earlier, youthful work.

Overall, the Cootie Brown trilogy is quite an achievement for local, original jam/instrumental music and great for fans of the genre.

Though maybe a touch overreaching, it’s hard not to get caught up in the grand gesture and great grooves of the band’s three debut albums.

- Centre Daily Times

"Cootie Brown has been a pleasure to work with on all levels here at the club. From custom posters received in a very timely fashion, to and easy going attitude while maintaining the level of professionalism expected here at Nectars. Their music has grabbed the attention of the hard to please crowd here in Burlington and they have proven to be a band that's going to be in a regular rotation on our stage."

Alex Budney
Nectar's Lounge
Burlington VT

- Nectar's Lounge

Dear Brian & Cootie Brown,

I wanted to thank Cootie Brown for appearing on the LION 90.7. The response we received from that performance, as you may know, has been stellar. I was supprised at how many people that called in, already knew about Cootie. Although I am sure the music sounded great over the air, it was still special to be there in the studio with you guys running the boards, getting the word out.
The energy, and sound from you guys is surely a crowd pleaser, I know my listeners enjoyed it. If you are ever in town with the boys, give us a ring, we would love to have you back in the Studio anytime.

Mike "Roman Oakwood" Shamalla
DJ on the Lion 90.7 FM WKPS, State College
Penn State Student Radio

- WKPS Staff

When Cootie Brown plays at Bar Bleu they bring an exciting energy and atmosphere that you have to see for yourself.

Keith Lesho
Bar Bleu
State College PA
- Keith Lesho

Cootie Brown

“Out of the Bleu” (Breeze Records)

On the first two albums of their three-disc trilogy issued last fall, State College/Vermont-based septet Cootie Brown progressed from funky groove-based jamming to more structured compositions and arrangements; maintaining a fun and adventurous spirit through it all. On the final chapter of the trilogy, “Out Of The Bleu”, Cootie Brown has matured towards a jazz-geared style and sound. Their compositions are even tighter and more compact, and the group has elevated the level and maturity of their overall musicianship. The album title itself references the venue – State College’s Bar Bleu – where the group honed their jazz chops. Over the album’s eight mostly instrumental tracks, Cootie Brown smoothly executes on a variety of jazzy styles. They offer a light and airy shuffle on “Coffey Break,” improvise along a Dave Brubeck “Take Five”-like 5/4 meter on “Brutus,” and conjure a New Orleans-meets-swing vibe on “Dirty Duds.” The group doesn’t completely abandon their earlier funk and jam tendencies, though. They mix funk and jazz flavors on “The Cat’s Pajamas” and the punchier title track closer “Out of the Bleu.” And they still stretch out, jam and improvise on the Grateful Dead/Steely Dan-flavored “Grind” and the blues/jazz excursion “Say What?” Cootie Brown raises the bar of their performance on this set, with drummer James DeVoss, sax/flute player Michael Fortunato and keyboardist Jordan Thompson especially elevating their game with spirited, tasteful playing and colorful interaction on their instruments. While the overall presentation is tighter and closer to the vest, these musicians still sound like they’re enjoying themselves; but now with more confidence and a greater sense of control. Again, the sound mix allows the instruments to speak, with the players’ own improved skill levels smoothing some of the rougher edges displayed on the earlier two discs. Out Of The Bleu successfully caps the three-album evolutionary story of Cootie Brown, showing that although they have progressed, grown and expanded their musical vocabulary into jazz, they still show a sense of adventure, and leave the door open to more possibilities for their musical creativity. (The CD can be purchased through the group’s website, - PA Musician Magazine


3 Full-length Studio CDs:
Meltdown - 2007
Strikes Back!!! - 2007
Out of the Bleu - 2007



The concept of Cootie Brown was born nearly three years ago when bassist Brian Eckert formed a trio and began writing original music and performing in Central PA at venues such as Tussey Mountain, the Brewery, and the Crowbar. Near the end of 2004, the trio split and Eckert began to search for new members to continue performing Cootie Brown's music.

In November of 2005, he met guitar player Ryan Alford and immediately clicked. The two have written over 60 songs that delve into the worlds of Funk, Jazz, Reggae, Punk, Rock, all with a heavy dose of improvisation. They soon found percussionist Jacob Haqq-Misra (Jan. '06) and drummer Jim DeVoss (April '06) and melded much of their music into a four-piece band. Near the end of the summer of 2006, they recruited long-time friend and ripping southpaw guitarist Matt Fern (Aug. '06) and woodwind player Michael Fortunato (Sept. '06). In early October keys player Jordan Thompson responded to an ad and filled the last position to round out the sound of Cootie Brown.

With the players in place, Cootie Brown went underground in the fall of 2006 to hone their unique sound and create musical landscapes that reached over 5 hours of original songs. By November of that year, they played their first gig to a packed house at State College, PA’s premier venue, Zeno’s Pub. After 3 sets and 2 encores the hard work paid off when they were greeted by enthusiastic fans and landed a regular gig at the pub.

Over the next 6 months, Cootie Brown took their infectious music to the masses and began gigging twice a week. At the same time, the band recorded every free day they could find, amounting to what would become 3 full cds worth of the music. From the spring of 2007, thru the summer and into the fall, Cootie Brown gigged in and out of State College, venturing to the original music haven Burlington, Vermont. While the 3 cd’s were being mixed and engineered, the band played the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, the Downtown State College Summer’s Best Music Fest, as well as playing such places as Nectar’s in Burlington, VT, the Monkey House in Winooski, VT, the Harrisburg, PA capitol building, and Bar Bleu in State College, PA.