If the name Jeff Cole doesn't ring a bell for you, you haven't been involved in the Muskogee music scene for long.

In the mid- to late 1980s, Cole, who worked at John Michael's Music, was featured in cable commercials for the store, playing blistering Steve Vai guitar solos note for note.

Ask nearly any musician in town, and you'll hear the same sentiment: he's only gotten better since then.

These days, Cole's band, Banana Seat, is all over Tulsa, Kansas and other area states playing to enthralled crowds who are pumped to hear songs they don't normally hear from local bands.

"There are very few — if any — bands that play '70s pop," Cole said. "We think, 'What's going to keep them on the dance floor and what's going to keep the people happy?'"

That ethic has led the band — enormous at 10 people — to focus on songs that other bands can only dream of covering, from Earth, Wind and Fire to Chicago.

That eclectic playlist also ensures the band's appeal stretches from the very hip and young to the formerly hip and now middle-aged.

"We've played the Norman High School prom twice," Cole said. "And we've done a lot of stuff for older crowds, too. The neat thing about it is for the older crowds, we give them an opportunity to hear music that they don't normally get to go out and listen to."

For the younger crowds, the music is fun and retro.

The uniqueness of the band's appeal or its dynamics isn't lost on vocalist Julie Mulford, who's been with the group for three years.

"I think everyone kind of knows just exactly how special this is," she said. "We all have such a common bond with music and such a love for it."

The crowds respond to that love — and the full compliment of instruments.

"What I like about Banana Seat is how 'big' they sound," said fan Jenna Cummings. "It's hard to explain unless you see them perform, but it's a lot to take in. It's very entertaining.

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