By SHEILA AHERN
Matchbox Twenty guitarist and Frankfort native Kyle Cook used to shoot pool and hoops at the Clinton County Boys and Girls Club as a kid. Before all the fan clubs and MTV gigs, he was just a teenager who wanted a better jump shot.
But these days it isn't Cook's athletic skills that Bill Wheeler, the club's chief professional officer, needs - it's his music. As Wheeler faces increasing financial demands at the club, Cook and two of his Frankfort High School buddies - John Kibler and Brett Borges - are coming to the rescue.
"I played basketball there forever," Cook said in a phone interview Friday. "I was never very good though. I guess it just wasn't for me. Later I found my passion."
A newly formed band called Kyle Cook and the New Left will perform two shows - at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 25 at the Frankfort High School auditorium. Tickets will be $25 for the front section and $20 for the back section. While 10 percent of the proceeds will benefit the United Way's Sept. 11 Fund, the rest will go to the Clinton County Boys and Girls Club.
Tickets go on sale Tuesday at the club. Only cash and money orders will be accepted - no personal checks, Wheeler said.
Money restraints started when Wheeler got word that his liability insurance will increase by 30 to 50 percent, while his utility bills continue to soar, he said.
"This is a big concern for me," he said. "I know people don't want to see increased fees, so I called Kyle last week and asked if maybe he could do a benefit concert for us. He checked it out, called me back and said 'Sure, let's do it.'"
Wheeler hopes to pull in between $15,000 and $20,000 from the two shows, he said. Cook and Wheeler have stayed in touch ever since Cook's days at the boys and girls club, Wheeler said.
"He was just a typical kid," Wheeler said about Cook. "He played pool and hung out. I do remember his mom always picking him up for guitar lessons though."
Despite the new band, Cook said he will still be a part of Matchbox Twenty.
"Sure, I'm still with (Matchbox Twenty)," Cook said. "This new band is not against any agreement I have."
The New Left will feature Cook on guitar and vocals, Borges on percussions and Kibler on bass guitar.
This will be Cook's first Frankfort show since he headed to Atlanta after high school, he said.
"Frankfort is a small town where everybody knows everybody," he said. "John, Brett and I are going to make a record together, and we thought what better place to start than our home town?"
Cook graduated from Frankfort High School in 1994. Kibler and Borges graduated in 1995. Although the three played together in high school, they lost touch when each went his separate way, Cook said.
"I always loved the way we sounded together," he said. "We just sort of went different ways when I got into Matchbox. I basically just called them up and asked if they wanted to play, and they did."
The three used to play "some kind of weird gigs" when they were in high school, Borges said in a phone interview.
"I can remember playing at the Moose Lodge and at parties," he said. "I think we even played at the prom one year. God, we used to play rock covers from like 1993. We were into the post-grunge thing when Nirvana was really big."
New Left's brand of music will be much different, Borges said.
"We're going to have a lot of classical sounds like the Beatles," he said. "It will be a new take on old ideas, not the typical top 40, modern rock type of stuff."
While Cook lives in Orlando, Borges is currently based in Los Angeles playing in a variety of bands, and Kibler is studying to get his master's degree in music at the University of Michigan.
Cook said he has been flying Borges and Kibler to Orlando to practice.
"I've been budgeting for some of the expenses, and the guys stay with me when they are here," Cook said. "It's a good time."
Cook thought of the band's name, New Left, which originated from a book recommended by Moon Zappa, he said.
"She was dating Paul, the Matchbox Twenty drummer, and she talked about this book that had a political paper called the New Left," Cook said. "I just thought it sounded kind of cool. It doesn't really mean much musically. I just liked it."
Cook plans to shop the band around while the three are in Indiana, he said.
"I'd like to do some promotions in Indy or at Purdue," he said. "We've got three serious tracks, and you need four for a demo."
The group is looking forward to playing in Frankfort, both Cook and Borges said.
"The high school's auditorium is really nice and kept up well," Cook said. "A lot of high schools don't have auditoriums this nice."
Borges said it will be good to see his home town again.
"It's been quiet awhile since we rocked Frankfort," he said.