For Fans of ekoostik hookah

It’s a new era for Ekoostik Hookah, Phil Risko talks about his first show with eH

Phil Risko from ekoostik hookah

Phil Risko from ekoostik hookah

Written by Gretchen Gregory – gretchen.gregory@gmail.com

BOWLING GREEN — When Ekoostik Hookah’s new bass player walked onto the Clazell Theatre stage Thursday, he was admittedly a little apprehensive about his first performance in front of adoring fans – some of which have been following the band for two decades.

“I didn’t really know what to expect just because for the past two months I’ve been cramming as much as I could into my head, but I didn’t know how they played on stage,” admitted Phil Risko in an interview early this week. “When I first went out on stage I was tense, but by the second set I was a lot more comfortable.”

Standing in the same spot where Cliff Starbuck often stood, Risko played his first Hookah songs, flanked by Fred the Penguin – a cultural icon among some Hookah fans – over his right shoulder.

“All in all we thought it went as well as it could have gone,” he explained while strumming the strings of his bass guitar. “I mean there were a couple spots that I know I didn’t get perfectly down, but that was because I was cramming everything down in a short time. I listened to a couple of the recordings and you can’t really tell where I messed up, but I’m a perfectionist so it annoys me until I get it right.” Continue reading

Interview with Phil Risko, New Bass Player for ekoostik hookah

Phil Risko from ekoostik hookah

Phil Risko from ekoostik hookah

Interview by Scott Preston

Some of you may know who Phil Risko is and some of you may not. But starting soon a lot more people will be seeing a lot more of Phil. Starting in February Phil will be taking over the bass guitar duties for ekoostik hookah. Phil has most recently played bass for The Recipe and for Greenleif, a band he co-founded in 2003. Departing longtime ekoostik hookah bass player, Cliff Starbuck also introduced Phil to the crowd at the band’s NYE show at The Newport Music Hall, where Phil jammed with Cliff and the band during Sister Sugar (video clip below) and Ballad of Sam McCully.

Cincy Groove: When did you first start playing bass? Was there a reason you chose bass over other instruments?

Phil Risko: I got my first bass when I was 15. I picked it up just by listening to the radio and figuring out songs by playing along so I’ve had no lessons. I started playing out in the music scene when I was 18 with my first band which gave me exposure to the whole festival scene which was great. I chose bass because I knew that a good bass player is hard to find and both of my brothers already played the guitar and drums so I figured why not the bass as well. Along with the bass I can play the guitar and drums.

Cincy Groove: What other bands do you or have you played in?

Phil Risko: My first band Greenleif was a funk blues rock type started by me and my good friend Ryan Beke. That’s the band that I’ve been playing with for the past 7 years. I recently at the beginning of the summer joined The Recipe and played with them up until now. Continue reading

Interview with Cliff Starbuck from ekoostik hookah


Cliff Starbuck from ekoostik hookah

Interview and Photos by Scott Preston

I had the chance to sit down with Cliff Starbuck, bass player for ekoostik hookah, who have been doing it their own way since 1991. Not many bands last more than a few years, but ekoostik hookah has been delighting fans all over the country for the last 18 years. Not only that, but they also have been hosting their own music festival, hookahville, which has been occuring twice a year since 1994. This upcoming hookahville is number 31, which is returning to Frontier Ranch Music Center and features a lineup including 2 nights of ekoostik hookah, Les Claypool, Freekbass, The Wailers, Steve Kimock’s Crazy Engine, Oakhurst, Great American Taxi and many more.

Cliff is also a lover of bluegrass music, and is an accomplished banjo player. This has led to many collaborations with musicians from all over the country. Cliff’s latest journey into the world of bluegrass music is the Desperation String Band, which features Cliff on banjo & ukulele, Brian Flechsig on mandolin (from the Cincinnati 90′s band The Wildweeds), John Armstrong on string bass, Dan Cade on fiddle and Ron Slone on guitar.

Cincy Groove: How was ekoostik hookah’s trip to Jamaica last month? anything interesting happen?

Cliff Starbuck: It was fun, it was the first time we were able to rent nice amps and PA, so that was interesting. It was also the first vacation that my girlfriend and I have gone on together since Grateful Dead tour in the summer of ’90. We had a good time. Continue reading

Interview with John Mullins from ekoostik hookah

John Mullins from ekoostik hookah

John Mullins from ekoostik hookah

Interview by Scott Preston

Photos by ChristianJamesPhoto.com

One of the most original and energetic acts around today, ekoostik hookah is the nucleus of a family drawn to its lucid, improvisational treatment of psychedelic rock ’n’ roll, blues, funk, jazz and bluegrass layered with rich harmonies. Born early in 1991 in a smoky basement bar, the band has been continually evolving, cultivating a sound that has perked the ears of contemporaries and attracted fans who travel miles to hear them play. (from ekoostik.com)

ekoostik hookah’s next show is next weekend atHookahville 29 at Legend Valley in Thornville, OH. They will be playing on Saturday and Sunday night. The lineup for this springs hookahville is one of the strongest in recent memory – Sam Bush, Railroad Earth, Outformation, Lotus, The Ragbirds, Greensky Bluegrass, Papadosio, Emmitt Nershi Band, Fat City Reprise, Boogie Matrix Mechanism, Macpodz, The Werks, 56 Hope Road, Woodbox Gang, Seven.

Cincy Groove: So does ekoostik hookah have any new projects in the works?

John Mullins: Not at the moment, just getting ready for hookahville. We always rehearse a bunch before hookahville. We probably rehearse more right before hookahville than any other time of the year. We are trying to figure out what we want to do for encores and things like that. There’s definitely some songs that I haven’t brought in yet or maybe have done once that I want to go over. But hell Dave has put out 3 or 4 really good songs in the last few months. I have to start keeping up the pace. Continue reading

Interview with Dave Katz from ekoostik hookah

Dave Katz – ekoostik hookah

Dave Katz – ekoostik hookah

Interview and Photos by Scott Preston

I had the chance to chat with Dave Katz, vocalist and keyboard player for one of my most favorite bands in the world, ekoostik hookah. My experiences with the band go back 15 years, hundreds of shows in 3 different countries (The U.S., Holland, and Jamaica), 23 hookahville’s, and a few thousand photos.

Cincy Groove: So this year is bringing up hookahville 29 and 30, has it sunk in that there has been 30 hookahville‘s?

Dave Katz: Actually now that you mention it, no. I think overall its pretty impressive, there aren’t too many festivals that have ever gone that many. Although its a little deceiving, since there are 2 a year but still.

Cincy Groove: ekoostik hookah has organized and produced most of the hookahville‘s yourself correct?

Dave Katz: Yeah, we have done most of them. Although now its nice to just goto hookahvilleand hang out now. Continue reading