Written by Gretchen Gregory – [email protected]
Photo by Erin McMillen
GUYSVILLE — John Mullins is gone and he isn’t coming back. That’s the official word from Dave Katz of Ekoostik Hookah, who says the band is considering possible replacements of one of the original founders of the band that popularized the Columbus jam scene.
Comments have run the gamet the past two days on whether this change is good, as the message boards have lit up with ideas on what this means for the band.
While critics say Mullins’ sound is no good and the band is better off, others enjoy the raspy way he sings, often leaving them hungry for more. Whichever side you’re on, however, many regard the man’s song writing abilities over the years as some of the best the band has produced.
For now though, Katz says the band will play all their scheduled shows, and will even be adding more.
Saturday’s performance near Guysville at Spring Hookah in the Hills was anything but lacking in musicianship, despite missing Mullins. During “Keeping Time,” the power cut out across the lake and at the neighbors next door, yet Steve Sweney kept jamming undeterred. About ten minutes later, festival organizer Curt Manley made an announcement that the party would go on with the help of generators powering the stage.
It was refreshing to see Katz front and center on the stage again, at a time when he’s mostly been reserved playing keys off to the far right. Eric Sargeant of The Recipe filled in on rhythm guitar and vocals, and in Katz’s opinion, “did a great job playing them with no rehearsals whatsoever.”
Soon after Mullins announced he was quitting the band Saturday, the band called Sargeant, who was already on the festival grounds that day playing with The Recipe. “He is a long time friend of the bands, and was familiar with a lot of the songs,” explained Katz Monday. “Not that he had played them, but had heard them a lot. He had played some of the songs at shows that I’ve played with him and Carlos Jones. Obviously, he is a quick study, and was able to learn upwards of 20 songs in one day.”
It’s uncertain if Sargeant will be asked to take over in place of Mullins, but Katz says the band hopes to find a replacement quickly, whoever that may be.
This is an odd time for some fans, who witnessed the replacement of former bassist Cliff Starbuck with Phil Risko earlier this year. Now that John Mullins has quit for the second time in the band’s history, many are left to wonder – what next?
“Ekoostik Hookah will continue, just as we have after every personnel change,” Katz wanted to reasussure fans. “We are lucky to have such an amazing group of people that support us. We are confident that we have what we need to continue to play at the level that everyone expects, and whoever we bring in to join us will only enhance what we have already done.”
Despite the change in the band’s lineup, Katz says this show was the most relaxed the band has been on stage in a long, long time. And if that’s any indication of what’s to come, I’m all ears.