Up Close & Personal:
Local Music Duo Move South; The HOOTZ on the Road to Stardom
By Chad Neal
Luke and Ange Marino are from the area, Ange from Salamanca and Luke from the Belfast/Franklinville area. The two met in college when Luke was playing a gig. The two are now married and have formed a band call The HOOTZ which has taken them all the way to Nashville where they now reside. The Villager caught up with them and Luke told the story about The HOOTZ and what they are up to now.
The Villager asked about their past and how they met. Luke replied, “I had a college band. Ange along with her girlfriends brought the party to all our shows and Ange would occasionally get up a sing. All of us guys had a huge crush on her, but she was dating someone at the time. Years later when she happened to be single, I took her out and our first date which consisted mostly of volleyball and singing Beatles songs. The rest is history I guess.”
The HOOTZ grew as an act and musical talent around the area for years before they were asked to move south to a music town in Tennessee. They had a few other names too including Luke and Ange. Luke told the Villager that he started playing guitar at age ten, and that he is also a singer, can play drums, Bass guitar, Ukulele, Mandolin “and a little banjo. I’m self taught,” he said, “ for the most part. When Ange and I started out as a duo she was strictly the lead singer for our group. Eventually she wanted to learn bass guitar and now plays bass full time in The HOOTZ along with her fronting the band with her vocals. I showed her the logistics on the bass and now she teaches herself after only two years of playing. I think we both use each other for inspiration. When we’re together we become like one personality on steroids.”
Luke and Ange have been working together on their music since they stared dating in September 2009. They’ve decided to quit their jobs and “do The HOOTZ full time back in 2013 and never looked back. We just sold our house in Franklinville and we now live in Nashville. The HOOTZ are represented by Artist Events Nashville. Our booking agent has worked with some of the biggest names in country from Eric Church to Waylon Jennings. We signed with his company about a year and a half ago and he’s been wanting us to move out there the whole time.”
When asked about what The Hootz represents and what they strive for, Luke stated: “The HOOTZ is our life and even though our show is more comedy than anything else, we take it very seriously. We are completely invested into making it work long term. We’re a country act when it comes down to it. The thing that separates us from the herd is Ange’s voice for one, her voice is unmistakably “HOOTZ”. Also our song content is not in line with what’s on the radio. Instead of writing the traditional country song about the truck driving down a dirt road with a six pack of beer and a country girl sitting shotgun, we write about chloroforming those whom have done you wrong. Our first songs that were known for is called “The Rednecks are Coming”, which is exactly what Paul Revere would be yelling through the streets if he lived in current day. We love playing that song and it’s usually how we open our show up.”
Luke explained to the Villager that like many other original bands, at first people did not get them and they had to stick to playing cover songs. Since, they have found an audience with a sense of humor and “need for something free from all the political correctness being pushed on them nowadays.” Luke also said that since they decided to make the move they’ve shared the stage with acts like “Parmalee, Eric Paisley, Dustin Lynch, etc. Just recently we played a festival in Kentucky with Bret Michaels and he loved The HOOTZ! We are playing a lot of southern states until spring time! We have a great time playing the Jam in the Valley Festival last summer with Easton Corban and we’d love to come back this year! You can check our tour schedule on our website www.thehootz.com.”
The HOOTZ isn’t just a two-person outfit, they have back up musicians who play with them as well. Luke explained to the Villager, “It’s a rotating door for our accompanying musicians since we started touring. In the last year we found our current drummer Dylan Brawn. He has picked up and made the move to Nashville with us and he’s the first we’ve had with us that is dedicated to the HOOTZ lifestyle and it doesn’t hurt that he’s a class act on the drum kit. We also have our long time friend Greg Mach on the fiddle with us whenever we can get him. Greg has been with us from the beginning of our expedition into finding our place in the country music world. He is a local that is talented to no end and we’re just lucky we get to play with him until he gets discovered by someone like Lady Gaga or something! Other than that we’ve had people on call in every state that freelance their skills when we need them.”
Local musicians getting a taste of the Country Music world, The HOOTZ starting to make it in a tough realm. They have a facebook page The HOOTZ if you want to check them out as well as their website. The HOOTZ also have a new record coming out, so look for it on social media and their website.