“Most of the people, at least once in their lifetime, have had the morbid temptation to emulate the one who embodies their model of perfection. This is mostly related to the coincidences that happen in everyone’s life and, if in a foggy evening a “wanna be freak teenager” meets a long haired, bearded minstrel who wears a scruffy large coat and strums the guitar… Aqualung is on his way to be revealed.”
Although O.A.K. were conceived to work on self-penned material, they couldn’t avoid to be trapped into the grip of the cover mania. O.A.K.’s guitar player, despite his young age, was keen to play the music of Jethro Tull and so were drummer Mauro Gregori and bass player Daniele Di Noia (no keyboard players available in those guitar-oriented times). Run by a bunch of Djs, the Palladium theatre had on schedule a few tribute bands which, every Saturday, played before the discotheque. It was evident that Jerry would have preferred to play his music, but the directives of the live clubs in Rome were to promote tribute bands and nothing else. Having to bend to that trend, Jerry opted for the group he was most emotionally attached to. In February 1994 the Palladium audience was startled and entranced by Jerry’s playing, standing on one leg and swirling the flute like the JT front man. After that gig O.A.K. JT tribute got new followers and “Re-living in the past”, a cd of JT classics, was quickly produced.
In the summer of 1996, by sheer chance, Jerry red an advertisement about a Jethro Tull fan’s meeting in the north of Italy. He and his friend Mario Prili drove from Rome to a small village nearby Alessandria where they found a friendly and bucolic atmosphere. Among the audience Jerry saw Glenn Cornick’s hippy headband. The ex Tull was smiling and shaking hands to everybody while some tribute acts alternated on stage. Suddenly, someone at the microphone gave the last call to the flutists in the hall. The JT flute contest would be held shortly. At that announcement Mario rushed to write Jerry on the bill and so he threw him into the pit of the lions.Well, it happened that Jerry won the competition getting attention from the bassist of the Boureè. The following year O.A.K. & Glenn Cornick were on stage together for a series of concerts throughout the country.
In September 1999, on the occasion of the concert at the Geronimo’s pub by the American guitarist Carvin Johnes, with Clive Bunker on drums, Jerry put in place an effective stratagem. His aim was to break the indifference hitherto shown by the owners of the live club towards OAK. Jerry Cutillo’s band was unknown to the Geronimo’s and Jerry couldn’t resign himself to not play in front of such a beautiful audience. He called his band mate Iacopo and the bassist of the then formation Mauro Delorenzi, and invited both to the place for a jam session with Clive Bunker. There was no agreement with the former JT drummer, nor with the management of the club, but Jerry gambled. Step one: The warm embrace with which Clive greeted him was encouraging (Jerry had played with Clive the year before at the iTullians Convention and the drummer remembered that episode very well). Step two: Jerry turned to the Geronimo’s directors and told them about Clive’s willingness to open the show with some JT songs. Well, it wasn’t true, but the ploy worked and the Hell’s Angels faces of the staff nodded, giving the green light to that impromptu opening act. Step three: Jerry turned to Clive again and told him that the boss asked for an O.A.K. & Bunker opening act. Clive seemed to be pleased at the idea and…the performance happened. The set was exhilarating and ended up with a delirium of stop and go (Nothing is easy) which thrilled the audience and won a standing ovation with the request for an encore. The star of the evening, Mr Carvin Johnes, was backstage biting his lip and trying to hide his embarrassment but O.A.K., politely, left the stage. More than one in the audience asked Jerry when he would have replied the performance and the answer was: Ask to Geronimo ! Before leaving, O.A.K. leader went to say bye to the managers and saw their long mustaches opened into a smile while nodding their heads. Jerry understood what the chiefs meant to say and replied: Augh! From that moment O.A.K. JT tribute will feature on Geronimo’s schedules for thirteen consecutive years. (O.A.K. Halloween 2008)
O.A.K.’s first time in Barcellona was in July 2008 when they played with Maartin Allcock at the Tullianos Convention. After that successful occasion, the Mancunian multi-instrumentalist became a constant presence in the O.A.K. line up. Noteworthy was the Maart & Jerry appearance at the Cropredy UK Festival in 2013.
“In July 2008 I was invited by the Catalunyan Tull fan group Los Tullianos to their annual convention in Gavà near Barcelona. This was the first time I ever met the flautist/multi-instrumentalist Jerry Cutillo from Rome, who was there with his then Tull-tribute act O.A.K. We played acoustically under the trees in the park, sheltering from the blistering sun, and our friendship was born. In 2009 Jerry invited me to Italy for the first time to play with him and O.A.K. Our friendship bloomed into brotherhood. Jerry is a really great musician, tireless and enthusiastic, and always smiling. He plays to a very high standard on many instruments, and he has a very distinctive singing voice. He writes very interesting music, some of which I’ve been lucky enough to record with him in England. He plays my music too, and has recorded for my own albums. I get the chance to play some of my music in Italy, UK and China with him.” Maartin Allcock (“Isabel” from the Maartin Allcock album “Chilli Morning” featuring Jerry Cutillo on flute)
In the year 2008, the band made another decisive step as a tribute band. O.A.K. performance at the Ferrero Hall, theatre of Alessandria. They were joined on stage by Glenn Cornick and Barriemore Barlow (while Jeffrey Hammond was sat in the first row). Here’s an excerpt from Athos Enrile chronicle:
“Jerry Cutillo is the only one who can fully approach Ian Anderson in the repetition of the role as a singer, guitarist and flutist and, last but not least, Jerry is a R&R animal. He moves with spectacularity and energy. O.A.K. offered a complete show with dances, costumes, music and cabaret sketches”.
Shortly after that success, Jerry tried to take on the role of the promoter and, with the initial help of Gabriela Guardiola from Tullianos, achieved the first Jethro Tull fan meeting in Rome. Unfortunately, Jethro Tale first edition took soon a bad turn, forcing Jerry to face a series of unexpected problems such as:
1) Repeated attacks by one mentally disturbed ex member of O.A.K. and his affiliates.
2) A series of deceptions by the artistic director of the venue where the event took place.
3) Betrayals by a couple of members of his own team.
Nevertheless, this odd situation was eventually handled successfully and almost three hours of great music were performed:
O.A.K. with Dave Pegg and Gerry Conway – Jacquie Mc See (Pentangle) – violinist Marco Fabbri – Josè Melon and Gabriela Guardiola – The Wood JT tribute band – Maurizio Di Vara and Mirka Karakopoulos plus many others. Lots of people gathered and the event, despite some organizational flaws, was a complete success. Not long after Jethro Tale first edition, the second chapter took place in the same venue but… with much less stress. O.A.K. had won the battle.