They're getting the band back together.
In the '90s Chris Marra and his rock 'n' roll buddies formed the Connecticut-based jam band, Leaf Jumpers. The group split up shortly after the dawn of the new millennium, but its members recently reunited and played their first public show in about a decade on Nov. 2, at the Arch Street Tavern in Hartford.
The first time around the band achieved a taste of success. The group toured up and down the East Coast, playing as far away as Georgia and making frequent treks south to the Carolinas, and north to Maine. Group members drew fans with their rock improvisation and the tight pocket of their reggae grooves.
"We're a band that you can go out and just listen to and we're a band that you can get up and dance to," says Marra, 42, who lives in Deep River.
However, this taste of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle ultimately turned sour.
"We felt that we had just done the best we were going to do and as with anything else, when you have four people working together you get a little sick of each other," Marra says. "Life was evolving for us and maybe we didn't appreciate what we had."
Even after they disbanded, the band members, (Marra, guitar and vocals, Spike Kingsley, bass, Matt Bureau, guitar and vocals, Scott Pezsko, drums), kept in semi-touch and recently the band reunited thanks in part to a substance that has been one of the great muses of the music industry through the ages — beer.
"Earlier this year we got together to get a beer and hang out," Marra says. He adds that when the get-together was scheduled no one was really thinking of getting the group back together. "Nothing was ever planned it was just, 'hey we haven't seen each other in so long.' It was really the first time the four of us were together in ten years."
Being in the same room again reminded the band members how much they liked hanging out and what a good thing they had with the group.
"We shared so many things together in the past, it's just so many great memories and so many great times," Marra recalls.
Marra and his once and future band mates decided to give it another go, this time with more maturity.
"I think now we really appreciate how special what we had, had been and just enjoy playing together," Marra says.
The band was initially formed by Marra and Kingsley in 1995. Over the next year there were some personnel changes before the band's lineup solidified when Pezsko and Bureau were added on a permanent basis.
The band's name was inspired by autumn in Connecticut but there wasn't a whole lot of deep thought behind it.
"It's a stupid story," says Marra with a laugh. "I think our original drummer came up with the name, we were just passing around names one day and it was fall, it was probably October or something like that, (leaves were falling) and he said 'hey how about Leaf Jumpers.'"
Back in the day the members of the Leaf Jumpers were dealing with the financial pressures of doing the band fulltime. Now they each have successful day jobs. Marra is the head tennis pro at Guilford Racquet and Swim Club and coaches tennis at Guilford High School, Bureau owns the Music Bureau, a music store in Salem, and Peszko works for the City of Hartford.
Old fans of the band have been excited to rediscover the group and Marra says he and the other members are eager to use social media to connect with new fans.
"It's interesting because when we were playing together 10 years ago there was no Facebook, there was no Twitter, none of that existed, so having that now as a promotional tool as a way to get in touch with people is really great," he says.
The band members recently played a show at a private party in preparation for their public debut. Marra says that even with 10 years apart, they aren't missing a beat.
"It's like picking up right where you left off and it's almost like no time has gone by," he says. "The chemistry is just there for us, we have the same jokes, the same playing, we're just a little more of a mature version of what we were."