By Jillian Dawson
I can’t be the only person that instantly thinks of summer when listening to Cool Waters Band. Blame it on the upbeat pop hooks or Greg Waters’ vocals, but by the chorus I can practically feel the paper Miller Lite band around my wrist, toes in the grass, head bopping along with the rest of the crowd that freckles the seemingly endless ‘fests around the area in the summer.
There’s a reason this band is a staple of the local music scene (can you really even consider yourself from the Fox Valley if you haven’t seen them live?). To put it simply, they’re a feel-good band with infectious originals and a dedicated fan base like no other. If you’re like me, the Cool Waters Band has always just sort of… been here. So what’s their story? According to Greg Waters, it started with family.
“I think music was always just kind of there. My family was full of musical talent. My Dad introduced us to bands like The Beatles, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and Chicago when we were kids. I spent my teen years glued to my walkman.”
If you don’t count air guitar, Waters, along with his brother Dan Waters, began their musical collaboration in high school, playing guitar and writing songs. It was there he also met bassist Mike Cool.
“We instantly discovered that we both played music and loved Anthrax; we jammed together throughout high school. I left for college with no band and no plan, but I wrote some songs while I was away. Over Thanksgiving break, Mike stopped by to pick me up at my parents' place to go out for the night. Dan and I were jamming. Mike joined in. We ended up staying in the basement all weekend recording our first demo on my dad's reel to reel machine. We called ourselves Cool Waters - kind of like Wilson Phillips.”
While other musicians have come and gone over the years, both of the Waters’ and Cool remain in the band along with Matt Gieseke on drums, Rick Rajchel on sax and Scott Sukow on trombone and percussion for their current lineup. With ten albums under their belts, they’ve acquired a solid following.
“Our fans have been extremely loyal, even despite a really long hiatus by the band. We have become really good friends with a lot of our fans which has kind of added another dimension to what we do.”
When asked what the best part of being in Cool Waters is, Waters said, “I love having a positive impact on people through music. It's a great feeling. I also love the friendships we've formed within the band. It's kept Danny and I close for a lot of years which is really cool.”
Waters looks forward to tonight’s show at Rock Garden, citing what he loves about performing live:
“Everything. The energy, the unpredictability, the interaction with an audience. I love being in the moment and challenging ourselves to put a different kind of stamp on each show.”
Spending years as a band is guaranteed to rack up some pretty unusual experiences.
“Man, there are so many stories... from blizzards in the desert to angry Rottweiler attacks, parking lot bowling to four hour non-stop sets.” Perhaps we’ll hear an antic or two tonight?” I think we'll save them for the book,” he says with a laugh.
Here’s hoping he changes his mind.