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Hope and the Future... 

Hello friends... 

With the last year being filled with Covid-19, it looks as though things might just be looking up. I have started booking shows again, and as always, am looking forward to playing my music for you. More to come as it happens. 

A New Year..... 

What does one do with a blog? Seeings how I haven't written anything here since December of 2018, I reckon I ought to start, because as they say, it's never too late. I love singing for people, and have found that when I am performing, it is one of the times in my life that I can honestly say I am happy. So with that said, it would seem to most, that booking gigs (getting music jobs) would be an easy task but no. The truth of the matter is the one thing I dislike doing more than pickles and beets is soliciting myself. When I get into that mode though, I find it a fairly easy task, to call and/or email various venues. But lately I've just not been able to do it. My plan right now, is to begin booking myself for the Spring/Summer/Fall seasons this coming Monday, and I am hoping that by actually writing this down for someone else to see, it will give me the incentive to actually pick up the phone.

What is new in my musical world? First off, my alter ego Joe Lake has a few new tricks up his proverbial Merlyn sleeve.

Dane Deford and Joe Lake have begun a new musical duo called Under Cover, and we've been working very hard toward our first performance which will be coming up on April 24th at the Ironbark Brewery (2610 Kibby Rd, Jackson, MI. 49203). Under Cover is going to be playing songs you all know and love, in our own unique way. We are both really looking forward to this event, and are excited to have such a wonderful place to hold our first gig at. Great stage! We sincerely hoping you can make it out and make our first show one to remember.

There is something else, something that I've wanted to do since I started singing as a boy, but had never had the opportunity until now. It's funny, I have had so much in my life. I've been given so many chances, and I've toyed with the beautiful things that were presented freely to me, only to discard them like they were nothing. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I just wasn't ready yet, to do what I really wanted, really needed, to do. But now, I have the chance, and I'm ready. I am putting together a second duo, with the lovely and talented vocalist Rielle Rose. This is going to be something special for me folks, so I am asking my friends to please support us when we start performing. I honestly don't think you'll regret it. I have a name for us, but haven't shared it with her yet, so I wont say anything here, because our musical union, much like Under Cover, is a team effort, with no one person calling the shots. I like that. 

So, it's a new year. Did you make any resolutions? I made 2, and they are simple. 1. Take better care of my physical, mental and spiritual self, and 2. cut the drama from my life. So far, so good. 

I honestly hope to sing for the rest of my life on this planet, and you people help me do that by coming to my gigs! If there are any places that you would like me to bring my show to that's in, or relatively close to Michigan, please drop me a line and let me know. I will do my best to come to you. 

I will try and write more here, even if only one person reads my words, or hears my songs, ya know, it makes it all worth while for me. 

 

Peace and Love to you all in this New Year.

                                                                             Cooper

 

 

Looking Forward..... 

The last few weeks have found me feeling small and utterly helpless. As much as I would like to say I am in control, that is very far from reality. I find myself part of a whirlwind that is much larger than I can even fathom, and the ever-present HOPE that I have come to rely on in my life, is my only shot at any sort of healthy and sane mindset right now.

As far as music is concerned, my CD, the one that I posted about in October when I said it would be available in two weeks, is really (really) done, paid for and will be shipped out in a few days. While music has been the farthest thing from my mind that I can imagine lately, it is, like I have stated before, here with me always, even when I don't realize it... which is probably when I actually need it the most. 

While negotiating a price with the CD manufacturer, I discovered that I could only put roughly 45 minutes worth of music on the disc, which left me with a problem... I had 35 original songs, which included a few different versions, outtakes, and demo's that I wanted to include on the disc, but couldn't use most of them. So I chose 12 original songs, and one cover to go on the actual CD, and am slowly but surely including the rest here for sale at a nominal minimal fee, which you can adjust as you please. 

I am very proud of the artwork on the actual disc itself. It is an original piece that was created by an artist who wishes, at least for the time-being, to remain anonymous. While more will be revealed regarding this very talented individual very soon, for the time being, her art work as well as her wonderful photography, will be regarded as being done by Hummingbird Studios.

My friend, and owner of the Poison Frog Brewery Phil Wilcox was kind enough to volunteer his expertise as a graphic designer so I could get everything just as I wanted it on the packaging. 

The 12 original songs that I chose, were all written within the last 8 years, and despite a few minor glitches with fade-outs, endings, mastering etc, I am very happy with them indeed. A few of them are in mono, due to my accidentally having erased a hard drive a few years back. The only way I could save them was to dump them back onto my Tascam pretty much "as-is" in mono from YouTube, and with no way to re-mix them whatsoever. These songs would be "All My Troubles (Kat's Song)", and "What's The Question", with the latter including a "click-track" intro (in fact, the click-track is evident throughout the entire song, if you listen closely) and out as well. 

The part of this whole process that I am looking forward to more than anything else, is deleting these songs once and for all from my hard-drive, which will free-up time in my life, and space on my 24 track, for new material that has yet to be written and recorded. 

As for live shows.... As much as I love to perform, I loathe booking myself, especially in this home-town of mine. I try and keep myself out there by playing locally at the Poison Frog at least once a month, and have recently discovered a venue in Manchester, Michigan called the Village Tap, which has some of the nicest, and most truly appreciative crowds I have played for in a long time. 

I will be having a CD release party (hopefully with several guest performers) coming up sometime in January at the Poison Frog as well, which I will announce asap.

Peace be with you people. 

Changes..... 

Hello... 

A lot has happened in my life since my last entry here on May 5th of this year. As much as it goes against the grain of who I am, I am going to focus here on music, what I've been doing musically, and leave the personal things completely out of the mix, so to speak. 

The last 8 years of my life have been a constant, spinning wheel of change, and as I am generally just a stick in the mud, I don't do change well. Necessity has dictated otherwise though, and the last few years, actually the last 13 months or so, have made me prioritize my life like I've never done before. My main priority, after all is said and done, is the one thing that has never left me....Music. 

I have quite a semi-usable back-log of already recorded songs, 36 all in all, that I had to make a decision about. Delete them all, like I have done so very many times in the past, or put them out in a CD for people to hear. In my life, I have lost/deleted/forgotten/thrown out/burned or had destroyed by loved ones in excess of well over 500 songs. Every one of those lost songs were a snippet of a broad road map of my Heart, Soul, mind and life, and I must admit that I cringe when thinking of how I foolishly tossed them out, in hopes that with them, would go the sadness or heartache that I oft times put into my music. so, this time I made a different decision...

With the encouragement and help from a few kind friends, I have gone ahead and produced my first "real" CD. The hours I spent not only writing these tunes, but mixing, mastering, editing etc. are countless, so it goes without saying that I am not putting this CD out in hopes of making money, because that's not going to happen, nor is it in any way of any great importance to me. While I have more than enough songs for 2 CD's, I felt it important to release certain ones first, and hold off on the others for a while. Maybe forever. But the songs on this CD are some of the most heartfelt, sincere and truly inspired songs I have ever had the good fortune to write/record, and I would be sorely amiss if I took all the credit for myself. The words, music and emotion for the bulk of these tunes, were culled from deep within my Heart and Soul, and literally had to be ripped from deep within me. 

I have to thank a few people/things, with the first being God. Without God in my life, I would not have the grey matter left to be sitting here writing these words to you, and as much as I have not always been a "Good Christian" (whatever that means), I have never, even at my darkest and scariest moments, turned my back on God. While the songs contained on this CD are anything but non secular, as I do not write Christian music, the first "thank you" for giving me the strength to carry on even in the darkest times, would be to my Higher Power...So, Thank You God. Then there is my muse. I once thought that a muse was simply a myth, some Greek mythology word that didn't exist in the real world... But no. If you are a creative person, you may find your muse in the setting sun, on a beach, in a memory, in a painting, or as I had experienced, in a real person. I was very fortunate to have been graced with my muse for almost 7 years, and most of the songs on this CD are a direct result of that time. So, a sincere and heartfelt Thank You goes to my Muse.Then there are the people who love me. I don't toss out the L word with reckless abandon like I used to. While there are different kinds of Love, and many different levels, these people seem to actually LIKE me, for no reason other than the fact that I am.. me. That blows me away to such a degree, that the only way I can actually define it is by using the word Love. The kind of Love one gets from a friend. An unconditional Love. I have not allowed myself to be liked by people in the past, let alone allowed anyone other than a significant other to get inside of me, until now. When I came to realize there were actually people out there who not only loved my music, but actually like the man behind it, the man who is me, it blew my mind. I stopped fighting. 

The CD will be ready within the next 2 weeks. More to come then.... Peace... Cooper.

A Lot Has Happened... 

Yep. A lot has happened since my last gig, 2 weeks ago. I finally have my CD all mixed and mastered, and almost ready to go, save for the packaging, which I should have completed within the next 2 weeks. A few major life changes have hit me kinda hard too, so it'll be very cathartic indeed to play tonight at Portage Lake Parlor. Sometimes, man... I just want to run away. Buy me a one way ticket to Memphis or New Orleans, and not look back. And that is exactly what I would have done, and did in fact do, just a few short years ago. I even got to sleep on the bluff on the Mississippi River, because I could not cash a check. Certain things you want to do before you run away as an adult... One would be to find out the check cashing policies at the escape destination. I have to admit though, those three nights were wonderful. It was warm, the moon was bright, and I was laying right there, kind of under a tree, with the stars shining down on me. The tugboats pushing the long barges throughout the night, whose captains could obviously see me there in the moonlight, would blow their whistles, and man, it was simply surreal. I highly doubt the people staying at the Memphis Mission, where hundreds of men have to sleep on mats on the floor of a huge sermon hall, because all the rooms with rows of cots are always full, think it's very romantic, but I had a check which had been mailed to me in my possession in the amount of $3,800.00, and I knew it was just a matter of time before I could cash it. So thank God, I had a little wiggle room when it came to seeing the romantic aspects of my situation.

I had been living there, in Memphis, for 3 months at that time, and had been staying at a nice little rooming house in a very black neighborhood. I loved it there. One time the man upstairs found out that I played the blues, and asked me if I wanted to come up and have a few beers. Several 6 packs later, around 3 am, our singing, playing, and beat-keeping (stomping) were silenced.. several times.. by the live in property manager, who obviously had a dislike for my music... at 3 am. The neighborhood was very cool too.. There were these really funny prostitutes who I would almost always encounter whenever I went to the convenience store who would cat-call me. They wore lots of this day-glo makeup, and sported huge piled up orange and purple bee hive wigs, all while balancing on 8" platform heels. Oh yes, they were all queens. Very tall black men dressed up like beautiful cartoon models, who would tease me as I walked by. Too funny. They probably were all packing pistols, no doubt! Or maybe they were just glad to see me. We'll never know.

I had been paying my rent on a weekly basis, and knew when the check was going to arrive, so I hadn't bothered putting back any rent money. I had no bank account, so the banks would not deal with me as a customer. They also flat out refused to cash my very legitimate check. The hood party stores (convenience stores to all you Southerners), even the check cashing places wouldn't cash it. The only way I could take care of it in Tennessee was to have a State ID. In order to get an ID, I needed three things. One was a piece of business mail with my Tennessee address on it, which I had, but the other two, my Social Security card, and Birth Certificate were lost, or more like thrown away by my estranged wife, when I split months before. So I was screwed. 

That's how I ended up sleeping on the bluff in Memphis, right there above the shore of the Mighty Mississippi River. I would go to my corner in the morning, and play and sing for the passing tourists (God I musta looked a fright) and at the end of the day, buy a half pint of Jim Beam, more Off bug spray, and head back "home" down the bluff. After my third day, I had managed to make enough cash to buy a Greyhound ticket for a quick trip back to Jackson, Michigan, which is my hometown, in order to cash the check, get a certified copy of my birth certificate, apply for another SS card, jump on the train, head to Chicago, and catch the special back to Memphis. This is merely one of many trips I have made over the years, by the way. When times are fat, you fly, or take the train, my favorite being the City of New Orleans Special out of Chicago. When times are lean, you get a ticket on a Greyhound bus, or walk!

The bus trip was long, and very hot, and I had spent every penny on my ticket. I had no water, and no food. Once at night, early in the trip, the driver made a stop at McDonalds and told us we had 10 minutes. Man, when the folks got back on the bus, that food smelled so damned good! The next day, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, the bus broke down. It was a really shitty diner with no air conditioning, and nothing else. Just a hot diner in the middle of third world Podunk county. Dirt parking lot. With the occasional 18 wheeler kicking up massive clouds of dust. The place was overrun with huge black wasps, and I hated it. I recall that Flo behind the counter of the hot, sticky little place was totally out of her element when a bus load of hot, sweating, anxious customers ran through the door, swatting at wasps and screaming   We were stranded there in the 100 plus degree temperature for about 5 hours, when a relief bus finally arrived. With broken AC. Oh well. I arrived, hot, tired and starving in my hometown around 9 am on a Saturday.. I walked straight to the party store (convenience store for all you Southerners), and the lady said Hi Cooper. I said hi, and handed her the check. She cashed it without even asking for my ID. Man. I was relieved.

Stayed at a nice hotel (shit hole) for the next two nights, and partied with a new friend. Great memories. Monday morning, I went to my friend Connie's place, who was storing some of my things, and arranged to have a very large double-stack Marshall DSL amp picked up and taken to a place that charged me $150.00 to package it up. Then I had it shipped to Memphis. In the meantime, I got all my documentation needed taken care of, said a few hasty good byes, and headed to the train station. Often, when times are bad, and we are going through what seems like a regular shit-tornado, we don't think about the memories that are being made. I wouldn't trade these things for a pot of gold. Wait a minute, yeah.. I would!

 

The Show Must Go On.... 

Man, I'm here to tell you, I love music. Despite having had about 6 hours sleep since Wednesday, I made it through the last 2 nights' gigs pretty well. The folks at the Poison Frog on Friday, old friends as well as new, were wonderful as always, and I'm looking forward to being back next month. Tonight Aggie's Sports Bar (Average Joe's to you Northerners), boy I was dragging. I'm usually full of piss and vinegar, and kind of hyper, which helps at shows sometimes, but tonight I was just plain tired. But, it went well, and the crowd was great. I'm pretty sure I made a couple of new fans, and I met a piano player too, which I was just talking to a friend yesterday about wishing I we could find! God works in mysterious ways sometimes. Kev Nichols borrowed my guitar did a couple numbers, and I joined him on harp, which is something I don't get a chance to do very much, as I always use a harmonica holder. But tonight, I got to bend the hell outta those reeds in my Special 20, and it was a real treat jamming with Kevin too! I need some heavy rest, so not having any gigs next weekend is going to be nice.

Sometimes I think if it weren't for music, I'd go insane. I used to think it was odd of me to feel so strongly, so deeply, about anything as I do music. But someone very dear to me once told me that what it was that I feel is not odd at all. She called it my passion. I liked that an awful lot. I hope everyone out there who may read this has something in their lives that they feel as passionately about as I do music. If you don't, look inside. I'll bet ya fifty bucks it's in there. 

Last night at Book Jack Tavern..... 

When I have the good fortune to perform for people who appreciate what I do, I find that I play and sing a lot better, and more from the heart. Last night at Boot Jack Tavern was a good example of one of those nights. I had such a good time singing for the folks there, I forgot what time it was. You folks were great, and really made my week. I want to thank Angie for having me out, and I'm really looking forward to coming back out there on May 24th!! Thank you!!

The Last 2 Nights.... 

Sometimes life in my little world can become staid and predictable, and then something happens..., something just clicks. When music clicks, be it with other musicians, or with a solo artist and his or her audience, it is seemingly magical. The last two nights this has happened to me. Thursday at T.C.'s Jams out at the Bluestage in Napoleon, the audience may have been small, but man, I sure couldn't tell that from the stage. You people just made my year so far, and I appreciate you more than words can say here. Just made me want to give more of myself musically. Thanks to T.C.  and Robin Righter for having me. Then, just as I think things can't get better, and working on 4 hours sleep, I played the Poison Frog last night, and the people there just amazed me. When people are enjoying the music that I perform, and when they actually get it, that is one of the best feelings a person can have, and that is how I can describe the show last night. A big Thank You to my friend and special guest Jay Egeler for sitting in with me on a few songs. Looking forward to doing more of that Jay. And as always, a special thank you to Angela and Phil for having me back.. Looking forward, as always.... 

A brief note on my new duo, Cooler Heads..... Our debut show at Charlie's Place in Holt went well last weekend, but alas, apparently our heads weren't as cool as we thought, and our first show was our last. I can add that musical experience to one of many learning experiences I have had during this journey called life, and honestly, despite a lot of work for nothing, I have no regrets. Good luck and good fortune to Tony Rozensky in whatever you choose to do in life.