‘Never too old to rock’

The Collins/Flynn Band is bringing the music of the 1960s to Moorestown.

From left to right: The Collins/Flynn Band consists of keyboardist Todd Johnson, guitarist Neil Arot, drummer Glenn Johnson, electric guitarist John Puccio and bassist Tom Bitzer. The band exclusively performs music from the 1960s, sharing its music at venues in and around the Moorestown area and practices in the basement of Todd Johnson’s home.

Stepping into the basement of Todd Johnson’s Moorestown home on sleepy Collins Avenue is like travelling back in time. Walls adorned with vibrant tie-dye tapestries, a glowing lava lamp and colorful lights hanging from the ceiling set the tone, but it’s the five musicians joyously practicing the classic pop music of the 1960s every Monday night that transports the basement from 2017 to 1960.

The Collins/Flynn Band consists of keyboardist Todd Johnson, guitarist Neil Arot, drummer Glenn Johnson, electric guitarist John Puccio and bassist Tom Bitzer. The band exclusively performs music from the 1960s, sharing its music at venues in and around the Moorestown area, playing simply for the joy of performing.

“We’re at an age where we all have full-time jobs; none of us have any delusions of grandeur of making any money playing music,” Arot said with a good-natured laugh. “It’s like, is it a fun gig?”

The idea to exclusively perform 1960s music came from the mind of Todd Johnson. He said even though he was a teenager in the 1970s, he grew up listening to the 1960s music his two older brothers were fond of. A few years ago, he got the idea to try to put a band together to perform the music that had touched him during his youth as way of preserving the music.

“I wanted to do just 60s music and see if it would find a venue,” Todd Johnson said. “It’s disappearing.”

Around that same time, Arot and his family had moved to Moorestown, settling in one street over from Johnson on Flynn Avenue. Arot’s wife had grown up next door to the Johnson brothers in Moorestown, and when the Arot family returned to town, Arot and Johnson began jamming.

Puccio, Bitzer and Todd’s brother Glenn Johnson — who had all played with Todd Johnson in some iteration of a band before — joined Arot and Todd Johnson, and with that the Collins/Flynn Band was formed with the name coming from Arot’s and Johnson’s streets.

Three years ago, the band held its first “Flynnstock,” its version of Woodstock on Flynn Avenue. The band set up in the backyard of Arot’s home and invited Moorestown neighbors to bring a chair and listen to it play, and since then, “Flynnstock” has become a yearly event in the neighborhood.

Arot said the band isn’t particularly interested in playing bars. Instead, they perform at charity events, high school reunions and on Main Street every Moorestown Day. On Friday, Sept. 15, the group will perform on the third floor of the Moorestown Recreation Center in a performance hosted by the Moorestown Department of Parks & Recreation.

When crafting a setlist, the five friends get inspiration from a variety of sources, whether it’s listening to Pandora or perusing the 60s channels on TV. The band performs everything from the Beatles to the Monkees. Todd Johnson said 1960s songs were mostly about love, and the music is predominantly upbeat and positive.

Some songs come together quickly in rehearsals while others take some work, and with every member singing, they try to find songs where they can share the vocals and harmonize. The band tries to keep every song as true to the original as possible.

“We bring a new song in and it’s fun to see it take shape the way it’s supposed to take shape, and everyone is thinking of how we can make it better,” Puccio said.

Puccio said 1960s music was distinctly well-produced and featured musicians playing every sound by hand, unlike today where sounds are often created electronically. For that reason, the band tries to recreate these sounds as well.

Bitzer said it’s never been about achieving musical perfection. He said he simply loves the synergy of playing with like-minded musicians.

“I don’t consider myself a great musician, but I feel like a great musician in this band,” Bitzer said.

Glenn Johnson said performing this music is a way of connecting with people. He said when they play, people will often come up to them after and recount a memory one of their songs sparked.

“We get a lot of ‘oh, love this song’ because it was the soundscape of their background growing up,” Glenn Johnson said. “Driving down the Shore or driving around, these were the songs they heard.”

With a mailing list of up to 300 people and a steady following accumulating, Arot said he hopes people who see the group who range in age from 59 to 62 are inspired.

“You’re never too old to rock,” Arot said.

The Collins/ Flynn band will perform on Friday, Sept. 15, on the third floor of the Moorestown Recreation Center from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. For more information on The Collins/Flynn Band, visit https://www.collinsflynnband.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/collinsflynnband.