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INTERVIEW: A Talk With Thomas Muse, Founder Of The Band Jettykoon

T.J. Clemente

Jettykoon at the Montauket. (Photo: Darren J. Helgesen)

Within five seconds of talking with Jettykoon founder Thomas Muse you understand that he is a serious, committed man - to everything he does. He has tremendous passion for life and living life the right way. Born in Rockville Center, Long Island, Muse's dad's family came to Long Island via Buffalo, New York. However, Muse is pure Long Island grit. He lives with his family in Montauk, but it is his eleven-year tradition of playing music at the Montauket that was at the center of our talk.

Jettykoon is a band of friends that play "background vibe music" while performing at the Montauket. Muse explained, "We don't want to dominate the mood of the beautiful setting sun, and the special conversations the folks are having, we want to augment the specialness." He explained they want to provide "a soundtrack" to a wonderful sunset evening at perhaps the location best known in the Hamptons for sunsets.

The name Jettykoon comes from the tale of Thomas and son Cashus calling out to the raccoon that lived in the Ditch Plains jetty. As Muse said, "One day I called out and the echo came back, Jettykoon! We were about to start our gigs at the Montauket and we chose that to be the band's name."

Muse at Ditch. (Photo: Dalton Portella)

There are so many places to start to explain the music of Jettykoon, but the best place to start is with the "infusion" of music Muse's father, Harry Lee Muse, bestowed on his son at an early age. From Johnny Cash to Soul Train, his dad insisted he take notice of the language of music. Muse started with playing the trumpet in 5th and 6th grade, but moved to theater where he sang and acted on stage in high school. Eventually his life long tango around learning to play the guitar manifested itself into the singer, songwriter, community activist, great husband and father he is today.

A track record of business success and many years of focused hard work enabled Muse to have an epiphany to zero in on his passion of synthesizing words and music. "I had mountains of notebooks of words/lyrics/thoughts being an English Lit major at Albany, and when I heard the sounds of certain chords it just came together," he relayed. Then he credited Chris McCarthy of giving Muse and his friends the chance to play Thursday nights at the Montauket. It's been an eleven-year success. A local fan base of appreciative folks constantly show up and support Jettykoon.

When asked to name two songs of Jettykoon he is most proud of Muse first said that he was "very proud of all of them." When I pressed on, he said he is very proud of Saddle and the Rope, a song from his most recent X album. This song has a huge psychic connection from the powerful book Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Dee Brown - that his father actually gifted to him perhaps four times before he finally read it.

Then he mentioned FDA the Song, which says a lot about who Thomas Muse is. This song is important because his commitment to putting a bright spotlight on what needs to be known about the big business of drugs is there for all to see. I gave the X album (available on iTunes) a listen and enjoyed what I heard. Its freshness, its genuineness and its raw creative power should entice everyone to go to iTunes and give it a good listen.

In addition to Muse, who spearheads the band's songwriting, acoustic guitar and vocals, Jettykoon features William Lucey (bass), Peter "Bosco" Michne (lead guitar), and Chris Mehos (drums). Founding Members include Muse, Lucey and Abby Levin (drums).

Lastly, there is the personal side of Thomas Muse. He is married to East End music icon Nancy Atlas and together they have a family of three wonderful children. Cashus Lee Muse, age 13, Levon Louis Muse, age 7, and the adorable Tallulah Mavis Muse, age 5. They surf together, sing together, and are experiencing a Montauk version of the best life on the East End. He did say he knows how lucky he is that Nancy is his wife. "She's just really amazing on every level and she is my wife and the mother of our children. I know what I have. I'm thankful," he concluded.

Upcoming Jettykoon gigs include Townline BBQ on Friday, June 14 from 6 to 9 p.m., Montauket on Thursday, June 27 at 6 p.m., and Coast Grill (Thomas and Bosco) on Friday, June 28 from 8 to 11 p.m.

For more information on Jettykoon, visit jettykoon.com.

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