Most of the time I see my friends in the band Cooper Black when they’re playing gigs in the pubs of Oxfordshire like this one or at private parties and weddings (including my own).
Mostly I’m not able to enjoy their wonderful musical skills because I’m too busy talking to friends, meeting other guests or dancing. So it’s a rare treat to actually sit down in a theatre – Chipping Norton Theatre to be precise – and concentrate entirely on the music as we did on Saturday night. The band’s line up changes; according to who is available to play, but at the heart of the band are Simon…
Extraordinarily talented percussist Colin joined Simon and Rod as usual but I wasn’t able to get a photo of him as he always hides behind all his kit at the back of the stage. Joining them were bassist Tim Dequenoy; djembe player Andrew Wildman; Tim Cairns – a keyboard player with a singing voice like John Martyn; and fiddle player Mike Bingham:
They play one or two of their own compositions but prefer to stick to tried and tested tunes from a back catalogue they call “an eclectic mix of the obscure and the unfashionable”; songs that you will probably recognise and remember with fondness but be totally unable to recall who originally wrote or recorded them, stuff by Steve Earle, REM, Neil Young, the Waterboys, Van Morrison, The Doors, Santana, The Beatles, The Stones, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan as well as blues standards.
Blues is at the heart of what they do combined with folk, rock, reggae, and any other stylee they fancy. They’ll have a go at anything and use any method to make an interesting sound – like Mike’s inventive use of a wah-wah pedal on his electric violin, or Rod’s innovative use of a bottleneck to play slide mandolin. Groovy!
These guys are not professional musicians, but neither are they amateurs. They play for the sheer joy of making music together and a deep love and respect for the songs themselves. Songs which make up the soundtrack of our lives.
Thanks Cooper Black. Can’t wait for the CD and we’ll see you again soon!