Michael Stutz (Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals)
Michael, guitarist/singer and musical director for Moose and the High Tops, has been
playing guitar for most of his life, and playing in bands for almost as long. Here's a brief
summary of his history:
He was drawn to music (specifically the guitar) at a very early age, about 6 or 7 years old. He
and his older brother Larry constructed their own guitars out of cigar boxes and scrap wood,
using fishing line as strings. They listened to folk music by Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and
Ramblin' Jack Elliott, and blues by Muddy Waters, Leadbelly and the Seagel-Schwall Blues
Band. Eventually, the Beatles invaded America and Michael was off and running.
He learned guitar from Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and many
more. He learned to sing listening first to the Four Seasons, then the Beatles, the Hollies,
and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; he learned to perform by watching all of them.
1963 - His first concert was Bob Dylan at Symphony Hall in Springfield MA. Just him and a Martin Guitar and a harmonica on a rack around his neck. Wow!
1963 - First guitar, a Kay Silvertone acoustic from Sears, $11.95. He sold Christmas cards to the neighbors to raise the money to get it. It was close to unplayable, but well loved.
1964 – Michael heard his first Beatles song - I Wanna Hold Your Hand
1965 – Received his first good guitar, purchased by his father; an eight-year old Gibson Southerner-Jumbo flat-top acoustic guitar for $75.00. He still has that guitar, although it's worth a bit more than its purchase price now.
1964 - 1969: played in a succession of schoolboy bands, mostly at talent shows at school, parties at girls' houses, occasional dances at the community center or at a school. The bands weren't good, but the lessons learned the hard way would prove invaluable in the years to come.
1969 -1972: lead singer and second guitar for FEATHERBED. This band was influenced by the "underground" music of the late sixties (Jefferson Airplane, Hendrix, Sgt Pepper, Spirit) and the current FM radio rock (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Allman Brothers). They played local shows as well as most of New England.
1972 - 1975: lead singer (one of two) and lead guitar (one of two) for MAMA'S LITTLE JEWEL, also known as "The Jewels". This was a Glam-Rock band, dressed in satin clothes and shag haircuts, even a bit of face make-up. They played New England and New York, doing a mix of original and covers (Mott the Hoople, Free, David Bowie). The other guitarist in the band was John Dolan, possibly the best unknown guitarist in the United States; he and Michael remain friends to this day.
1975 - 1979: hiatus from music; Disco ruled on radio.
1979 - 1983: Guitarist and lead singer (one of two) in JUMPSTREET, which started as a duo and gradually expanded to a five-piece band. Originally doing R&B and swing/Bebop material, they became a Top-40 act and worked five to seven nights a week all over New England and upstate New York. This band was very into somewhat complex harmonies, and this was where Michael honed his skills as a vocal arranger. He co-founded this band with Dave Brinnel, who went on to success in broadcasting and advertising. Dave and he have gotten back together several times over the past few years for gigs.
1983 - 1984: Guitarist (one of two) and lead singer for JD AND THE SHAKES; this was another Top-40 band, started by Michael and Jumpstreet drummer Joey Sullivan
1984 - 1989: guitarist and lead singer with THE ROCKIN' MIDNITES, originally called "Jumpstart". The material was a mix of oldies, sixties rock hits and current music. This band was locally popular, and also did well in ski country and beach areas.
NOTE: The formation of the Rockin' Midnites coincided with the changing of the local music scene from a full-time to a part-time business. Clubs that had featured live bands all week long (sometimes the same band for two or three weeks in a row) had changed to two or three nights a week, and would eventually go down to one or two nights. The scene further changed to all "one-nighters" - if a club featured live music on Friday and Saturday nights, there would be two different bands. Whereas we used to set up for at least a five-show week, with a full sound and lighting system, and often built staging platforms for drum kits and keyboards, we now were moving equipment in and out for virtually every show. This changed a lot about the way the bands looked and sounded, and what they did for material; although we presented very professionally in the Top-40 era, the play-list included many "required" songs. (MJ’s "Billie Jean", for instance) This meant that about 60-70% of every band's playlist was identical. After the shift, the stages didn't look as professional, but we could pretty much play whatever music we wanted to.
1990 - 1993: Lead guitar and lead singer (one of three) for COUNTRY COMFORT, a Greenfield MA based country/western band. They played classic and current country hits, mostly in the Franklin County area.
1993 - 1996: Lead guitar and lead singer (one of two) for FLIPSIDE, another Greenfield area country band. They were shifting toward rock oldies by the time the band split up.
1996 - 2000: guitarist and lead singer (one of four!) for SYREN, a western MA favorite featuring vocalist Donna Lee DePrille. This band played covers of late 90's "modern rock" (Wallflowers, Alanis Morrisette, Melissa Etheridge, Three Doors Down) as well as some classic material (Janice Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Patty Smith)
2000 - 2003: guitarist and lead singer (one of three) for THE O-TONES, a swing band based in Northampton MA. This was not only a great band, but also very challenging for Michael; he had to develop jazz chops, which were never his strong suit. The band played swing dances and private functions up and down the east coast, as far away as West Virginia and Washington DC with a stellar group of players, including Anne Percival, who plays with the top Contra-Dance band in the US, Wild Asparagus.
2001 – 2003: guitarist/singer/songwriter with JoJoMiMa, an original recording and performing project featuring guitarist JOhn Dolan, drummer JOey Sullivan, guitarist MIchael Stutz and multi-instrumentalist Mark Germana . Also performing with this band was bassist Jeff Berg from Worcester MA. They recorded five original songs and a CD of 10 covers.
2002 - current: guitarist, singer and musical director for Moose and the High Tops; guitarist and singer for 7 Bridges Road
He also occasionally perform with a pick-up combo of friends, called EARL AND THE MICKS, which does a mix of covers and originals and plays sporadically.
Electric Guitars: '62 Reissue Fender Esquire (built '92) modded with a second pickup in the neck position (essentially making it a Telecaster) and a Fishman piezo system for acoustic guitar sound; '95 Fender Stratocaster, also with piezo; 1968 Fender Telecaster; two Gibson SG Standards (2004 and 2005); 2002 Gibson SG Special Faded; 2003 Gibson LP Melody Maker; 2000 Ibanez Art Core hollow body, modded with TV Jones Gretsch pickups and Bigsby vibrato. There is also a custom-made white solid-body guitar by the late Frank Luccessi which is owned by his shop, now called Luthier’s Co-op, in Easthampton. It’s a fine instrument that I should never have let go; thanks to Steve and Jane for buying it back for the shop.
Acoustic Guitars: 1958 Gibson Southerner Jumbo flat top; 1990 Yamaha APX acoustic-electric.
Mandolins: 1930’s Stradolin; 2009 Oscar Schmidt acoustic –electric
Amps: for small shows, 2011 VOX Night Train 15w tube amp with a VOX 1-12 speaker cabinet. Sometimes a 1996 Fender Blues Jr 15w tube amp is added to fatten the sound. For slightly bigger shows, he uses a 1962 Fender Bassman cabinet with 30w Celestian Greenbacks, with the VOX powering one speaker and a 10w Stromberg-Carlson tube amp powering the other. For larger shows, two 1967 Fender Bassman 40w tube amps and two Bassman 2-12 cabinets are used, generally only one at a time.
Effects: Although he has used a multitude of stomp boxes and pedals over the years and still owns many of them, the current effects rig is a Line-6 M13 multi-effects processor, two Ernie Ball stereo volume/pan pedals (one for volume and one to pan between acoustic and electric signals) and a Dunlop Crybaby 95Q Wah, which has no “on/off” switch; it goes on when you put your foot on it.
Accessories: Snark clip-on tuner for acoustics. Monster Rock cables or Planet Waves cables, both are guaranteed for life. Electric guitars use 10-46 gauge strings; acoustics are strung 12-56, by Ernie Ball. Dunlop nylon picks, .60 gauge, and Dunlap metal finger picks (one, on the middle finger). Dunlap #22 chrome slide.