Tag Archives: University of Illinois at Chicago

A Lesson in Music from The Coop

Danny Biggins (far left) Jared Shaw (second to left) Jacob Barinholtz (second to right) (Cason Trager (far right)

Music is a uniting force that inspires those with open minds to share in the creative vision of an artist– be it a call to action, an expression of joy, or simply a reason to keep moving forward. At least that is how Chicago band The Coop defines music. The members met in high school and have continued the band all the way through college. Band members Cason Trager (bass, synthesizer, laptop), Jacob Barinholtz (drums), Danny Biggins (guitar, synthesizer, vocals) and Jared Shaw (saxophone, percussion) have found their school experiences helpful in becoming successful in music in the Chicagoland area.

The Coop began in 2004, when a group of musically talented friends combined forces in a mysterious old shack (hence the band name). The band focuses on both improvisation and composition, combining elements of current electronic music styles with classic sounds of rock, jazz, funk, and reggae. The variety of styles keeps the group’s sound in a state of constant change. “We really try not to let preconceived genres limit the music we create. Each member of the band has their own influences, and these differences are what make things really interesting for all of us,” explains Barinholtz. Still not convinced? For those seeking a unique atmosphere, The Coop has been known to provide the occasional accompaniment of live painters and fire spinners, among other visual performers.

Music lovers may have seen this unique rock/electronics/fusion jam band during one of their performances at several high-profile summer events. Performing at Summer Camp Music Festival and the Taste of Chicago as well as a New Years Eve 2009 show to a crowd of nearly five hundred people in Chicago has helped these young musicians to be recognized as up-and-coming fan favorites. Kelly Currier, a fan and student at University of Illinois at Chicago said, “Their shows are always a fun time with great music and good vibes. Everyone has a great time dancing and enjoying good tunes.”

With three of four band members in college, The Coop has crossed paths with a wide variety of people that have helped them evolve their music. Whether they’re concert promoters, other bands, or just music enthusiasts, everyone has had an impact. “I met many of these people because I was at U of I (University of Illinois in Champaign). We’ve kept in touch with many of these people too which is good because we can both help each other out along the way,” Barinholtz says.

Barinholtz during a summer show

Recent DePaul University graduate Jessica Figurski has known and played music with Barinholtz since middle school. “I used to love watching him play during school. He was always so dedicated and passionate. I remember thinking every time I saw him play, ‘I just know he is going to go far with his talent.” Barinholtz did not major in music at the University of Illinois in Champaign, but was involved with both concert bands and the steel band through the University. In doing so, Barinholtz was able to play in settings that helped him to understand and learn different music styles. Barinholtz said, “It certainly was difficult at times performing in two different ensembles in addition to The Coop, while still attending regular classes. I often had to put in several hours of practice a week to ensure that I could learn all of my parts well.”

Two other members of The Coop are currently juggling school along with their music careers. Shaw, currently a jazz studies major finishing up his senior year at U of I, is considered to be the music theory guru of the group. His typical day involves attending classes that cover topics such performance, music history, and composition. Biggins has also taken several classes related to music at Elgin Community College to further his education and ability. He balances schoolwork with the band and a job on a daily basis.

What’s next for The Coop? Tonight (March 12th, 2010) the guys will be competing in Summer Camp’s “On The Road Tour” in Urbana, Illinois at The Canopy Club. The show is a battle-of-the-bands style contest in which each member of the audience votes for their favorite band. The winner will be invited to play a set at Summer Camp in Chillicothe, IL, this May for the festival’s 10th anniversary.  With their combination of experience and talent, The Coop surely won’t disappoint on their bright journey to Summer Camp.

Download The Coop’s latest album for free at http://www.thecoopmusic.net

–Laura Green