web analytics

Rudy Kool

Bands/Groups: Grand Rapids Youth Symphony, Wyoming Municipal Band, Peppermint Brass, Brass Union, SRO (Standing Room Only), Red Weather, Seven, Albert Smith Group, Grand Rapids Symphony, Ray Gill Orchestra/Jazz Band, Bruce Early Jazz Ensemble, Warlock, Caffein, Hotshot, Magic, Jamway, Studio Work.

Instruments: Euphonium (Baritone horn), trombone, trumpet, alto sax, bass guitar, vocals.


I was classically trained to play Euphonium from the age of about 7. Learned my brother’s trumpet. Taught myself trombone so I could play in the orchestra. Taught myself guitar, but found bass more rewarding with less competition. I played trombone in horn bands (Peppermint Brass, Albert Smith, Seven, Ray Gill) during Tijuana Brass, Blood, Sweat and Tears, and Chicago era. During junior high and High School, I continued classical engagement with GR Youth Symphony and GR Symphony. I was heavily engaged in Musicians Union gigs like concerts in the park, parades, etc. Also during High School, I started playing bass in Red Weather, a bass, drums, guitar, vocal, 4 piece band playing Zeppelin, Cream, Pink Floyd, etc. I taught myself sax so I could play in the pep band and get into basketball games for free. Following High School, I went on the road by joining Warlock, a local band booked out of Atlanta, Georgia. Initially playing trombone, I later switched to playing bass in the band after a brawl at the Brass Monkey bar and a personnel “re-org”. I first started doing session work on demos and jingles during these years. Upon returning to GR, I joined Caffein, probably best known for our Abby Road set. Caffein was sort of the house band at at short lived bar/restaurant called the Grand Rapids Theater Company and I met my future wife there while working the door. I continued session work during the Caffein years at Midwestern Sound, Two Track Jack’s, Cinema Sound, and River City Studios. Several members of Caffein were established with River City very early after it’s creation, so Caffein recorded quite a few tunes during it’s early years. I continued to do session work, primarily at River City, but joined Hotshot to get a little funk and spent a year or two playing around Michigan. Hotshot brought together some old friends from Seven, Warlock, and VFA, a competitor to Red Weather.

At this point in my life, I began a family, began finishing my education, and quit playing in bands full time. I continued playing in Magic, a wedding and party band with some members of former bands, and continued doing session work. I married my wife, Sandy, in 1977. We are still happily married and living in the farmhouse we bought a month before we got married. Our first son, Alex was born in 1984 and our twins, Dan and Clay, were born in 1987.

I was hired into one of the Labs at Amway in 1979 and have continued my career there. I completed my B.S. In Industrial Technology from GVSU in 1993. I now only play on the odd occasion of a special event, a request from a friend, or the need to blow my own hair back. Lately, I have been collaborating on some new tunes with John Fritz, a former member of Caffein, former engineer at River City, former member of Magic, and good friend for many years. Fritz has introduced me to digital/computer managed composing where we can send each other ideas via remote recording and internet DAW transfer. 

At one point in time, all 3 local news shows utilized theme music on which I played bass.

I continue to collaborate with former band members on original music, primarily at John Fritz’s home studio. We recently submitted a tune for the 2016 Art prize competition.


Do you come from a musical family?

Dad played sousaphone. Brother, Larry, played trumpet. Sister, Kathy, played cello and percussion.

Who originally inspired you to play music? Dad

Were you in a choir or high school/college band? Creston High School band

Do you have classical music training? Were you self taught or did you have lessons? Private lessons in Euphonium from age of 10 – 15.

What type of music have you played: All styles

What type of music do you prefer to play: Anything except country

Have you written music? A little.

Have you recorded? Please list recordings and when and where they were recorded.

RCA Studios in Chicago, 1969, demo with Brass Union

Midwestern Sound, 1973, Westdale Realty Jingle

Cinema Sound, 1974-75, Paul Touey (played his hands on Johnny Carson) demo, various jingles. 

River City Studios, 1975 – 198? Various original music with Caffein, various jingles.

Do you have any of your recordings that you can share with us? Original Caffein tunes, but probably need OK from other band members.


Grand Rapids Youth Symphony – 1966-72

Wyoming Municipal Band – 1968

Peppermint Brass – 1968 (Tijuana Brass covers)

Russ Will – Keyboard

Larry Kool – Trumpet

Dennis Queen – Trumpet

Dave Wells – Trombone

Rudy Koo – Trombone

Dick ? – Drums

Brass Union – 1969 (Chase, Blood, Sweat & Tears, etc.)

Russ Will – Keyboard

Larry Kool – Trumpet

Dennis Queen – Trumpet

Dave Wells/Rudy Kool – Trombone

Dick ? – Drums

Brass Union played with Milton Berle on the Lowell Showboat in July of 1969 (link to article: http://lowellnewspaper.iserv.net/Ledger%20Suburban%20Life/1969/07_July/07-17-1969.pdf)

SRO (Standing Room Only)– 1970 (Cream, Led Zepplin, etc.)

Dave Jones – Guitar

Kent Young (RIP) – Keyboard

Paul Smith – Drums

Rudy Kool – Bass and vocals


Red Weather – 1971 (Hard Rock covers)

Dave Jones – Guitar

Denny Fredrickson (Fergie) – Vocals

Paul Smith – Drums

Rudy Kool – Bass


Seven – 1971 (Chicago, BS&T, etc.)

Larry Walters – Guitar and lead vocals

Steve Christianson – Bass and vocals

Doug Houghton – Keyboards

Randy Shin – Drums

Jack Rudolph – Drums

Rudy Kool – Trombone

Ken Wierenga – Trumpet

? – Sax

Seven opened for King Crimson in December, 1971 at Fountain Street Church


Albert Smith a.k.a. Albert Smith Group a.k.a. ASG– 1972 (Chicago, BS&T, originals)

Larry Staffen – Guitar and Lead vocals

Tom Jones – Keyboard

Bob Kurnat – Bass and lead vocals

Andy Venza (RIP)/John Large – Drums

Larry Kool/Arnie Rodriguez/Dennis Queen – Trumpet

Dale Oldenberg – Sax

Dave Wells/Rudy Kool – Trombone

Albert Smith Group recorded demos of originals at RCA studios in Chicago.

Picture of ASG playing Calder stage during Festival in 72 attached


Grand Rapids Symphony – 1973 (2nd chair trombone)

Ray Gill Orchestra/Jazz Band – 1971-72 (Trombone)

Bruce Early Jazz Ensemble – 1972-73 (Trombone)

Warlock – 1973-74 (Chicago, BS&T, Funk, Alman Bros)

Jim Conlon/Jose Perez/Londerry Hughes – Lead Vocals

Chuck Hoag – Sax and vocals

Ken Wierenga – Trumpet

Rudy Kool – Trombone/bass

Chuck Foley – Guitar

Greg ? – Bass

Denny Newville – Drums

Warlock was booked out of Atlanta, GA and toured the Eastern US between Michigan and Florida. Disco was just beginning to take root and provide competition for live bands.

Caffein – 1974-75 (Rock, Progressive Rock, Beatles, originals)

Steve Thrall – Lead Vocals

Jud Lynch – Drums and vocals

John Georgecakes – Keyboards and vocals

Rudy Kool – Bass and vocals

John Fritz – Guitar

Chuck Foley – Guitar

Additional members at other times:

Joe McCarger – Lead vocals

Bird? – Bass

Jay Fortier – Bass


Caffein was known for their Abbey Road set and tackling of Yes, Styx, and Queen tunes. Caffein was the house band at Grand Rapids Theater Company, a local bar/restaurant and played the Intersection frequently. We recently had a reunion gig (link to Caffein info with pics and videos: https://www.facebook.com/caffeindrr/)


Hotshot – 1975-76 (Funk, dance)

R.C. Crawford – Guitar and lead vocals

Greg Stankus – Drums and lead vocals

Rudy Kool – Bass and vocals

Ken Wierenga – Trumpet

Maceo “Mache”  Machen – Sax

Mike Bianchi – Keyboards


Hotshot toured primarily around lower Michigan.


Magic – 1976-86? (Weddings and parties)

Dan Ohlman/Mike VanLente– Drums

Jim Conlon – Lead Vocals

Cindy Conlon (RIP) – Keyboards and lead vocals

Joyce Bean – Lead Vocals

Rudy Kool – Bass and vocals

John Fritz – Guitar

Jamway – 2014 to 2016 (Cover band playing for family and friends)

Brad Rick – Guitar and lead vocals

Monique Doolittle – Lead vocals

Darin Vandermolen/Deezal Christianson – Guitar, keyboard, drums, and lead vocals

Will Ingraham – Guitar

Rudy Kool – Bass and vocals

Shane Graham/Bill Amsbury– Drums

Jamway is currently undergoing a re-organization and will emerge with a new name and some new personnel.


Studio Work

Demos, jingles, originals recorded at:

RCA Studios, Chicago

Midwestern Sound

Cinema Sound

River City Studio


Comments are closed.