Archives for category: Sam Cooper

Doak Turner at Home

 Nashville Muse’ Doak Turner could really be the unofficial mayor of Nashville and this Friday Christmas starts at  Red Rooster on Demonbreun from 4-8 PM where Nashville Muse / Music Starts Here throws the biggest Songwriter’s  Holiday get together and anybody interested is invited.

Like it says on The Nashville Muse email “Bring your business cards”. Doak has put together the best networking organizations for all things music this side of NSAI. For well over a decade, his home has been host to what is known as either the monthly “Guitar-B-Q” or “3rd at 3”on the third Sunday.

If you can’t make his monthly get togethers, you can always sign up for The Nashville Muse Newsletter.  Doak has opened his home for well over a decade to not only some of the most well-known writers in town, but those who show up to Nashville with nothing but a melody in their head who are trying to put it down to paper and realize their musical ambition.

Jim Parker

I first heard about “3rd at 3” in the spring of 2008 when I first arrived in Nashville. I got an address and after turning off Charlotte Pike down to Doak’s place I pulled out my guitar case with my trusty Maton and started up the long driveway to the backyard.  There was a radio station broadcasting live in his garage. Guitar cases lined the driveway about 60 long. Kids were throwing Frisbee in the yard.

Inside the house, it could get intimidating very quickly. You might find yourself in a bedroom in a song round with a couple of hit songwriters who are able to convey their message with nothing but a voice and a Martin. But, that’s okay, that is what Nashville is all about, step up your game so you can bring something to the table.

When I was there that first time, after I shared a couple of songs I opted for the big circle playing old classics out on the back deck.  It was a big music party where all rungs of the music ladder can mash together and network not to mention the pot luck in the garage where chicken, beans, store bought cakes mingle with various cornbread recipes. If you don’t leave with a full stomach, a melody in your head and a smile on your face you must have been asleep.

Tom Shinness

My most recent trip to the “3rd at 3” found Jim Parker hit songwriter, member of the Huntsville chapter of NSAI, a well developed group with a great venue, playing in Doak’s office with multi-instrumentalist Tom Shiness (who could pass for Steve Lukather’s brother) trading off between his Harp Guitar and playing some bluesy licks on his Cello adding a great original fill to one of the writer’s songs. A man had just come into town with nothing but an idea in his head about a song he wanted to write about the daughter that he wasn’t able to be around while she grew up.  Sam Cooper was networking with new and old friends.  The garage was full of warm food and warm greetings.

Sam Cooper & Jamey Johnson

I’ve got three recommendations, sign up for The Nashville Muse Newsletter, go to Doak’s house for the “3rd at 3” and be at Red Rooster on Friday for the party! Merry Christmas! By the way, if you don’t have a gig after the party, join us and check out “Nowhere Boy” a new biopic movie on Pre-Beatles John Lennon at The Belcourt at 9:30 PM!

Merry "re-opened Opryland Hotel" Christmas!

 – Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN

New Jersey Cat, , Sam Cooper, has been busy criss-crossing Nashville, splitting time producing, co-writing, hosting or playing songwriter rounds at The Bluebird Cafe, Commodore Grill and Douglas Corner, where he gets nuttin’ but the best entertaining songwriters on his tilt-a-whirl sets as well as gigging with Mary Hartman and The Mistakes.

Sam with Jamey Johnson on "Orange Man" Set

Things are getting interesting on this side of The Cumberland River, Sam may get his first official Nashville cut with his co-writing partners-in-crime Chris Gantry, Alex King, Brenda Enderson and Kate McCoy’s Dark Horse Hip Hop Country flavored “Orange Man” which features cameos by Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson and others may see the light of day with recording artist, Alex King.

Getting a significant cut in four years is a big accomplishment, but, the coffee percolates when he talks about playing with Mary Hartman and The Mistakes. “Billy Block posted a mention on his Facebook page to play drums. I called him up and he didn‘t hesitate to join. We are really excited to work with Billy. He does so much for musicians with The Billy Block Show and he was Lucinda Williams’ (Back in her Nashville days) drummer”. “I can’t say enough about Mary Hartman she oozes personality and sexuality, she is magnetic, a great performer.”

Billy Block

Being a performer comes from what he learned watching acts like The Bruce Springsteen Band opening for Cactus before they became The E Street Band. “One of the things missing here sometimes is presentation. I’m use to a song being a performance. A lot of songwriters just sit and play and could use some vocal coaching but they don’t bother.” Performance of the song is as integral as the lyrics to Sam. 

In fact, Sam comes with a background touring that includes the Northeast chitlin’ circuit soon after he and his father had an argument.  Dad told him to pack his bags back in 1971. He left Virginia not long after starting his sophomore year of college in Richmond with nothing but the clothes on his back and headed to New Jersey where he found a room to rent with some friends for $100 a month.  He eventually settled near the ocean in the Asbury Park area where he remained until 2006, when he discovered “home”–Nashville.

Sam had a background as a radio DJ, concert security, announcing bands and even started playing guitar and trumpet in the fourth grade but he never thought about actually being in the music business professionally and writing songs regularly until that move to New Jersey. He joined a bar band and hit the road. He got the bug performing many genres, but especially “soul” music.  “The Beatles were a huge influence on me especially when “A Hard Day’s Night” came out, but soul music is something that you just can’t fake.  My biggest influences are Ray Charles, Delbert McClinton, Stevie Wonder, Dan Penn, Isaac Hayes and a lot of horn-flavored desert island soul. I was really upset when I heard that Solomon Burke had died”.

Sam brings his own Jersey Shore rock and soul roots to songs like “East Nashville Girls”. Many of his songs are a celebration, a party; in fact he has a song called “Time to Party”. He has a wide palette that comes from his formative radio listening days. “The first three songs that I got hooked on were Ray Stevens’ “Ahab the Arab”, “Speedy Gonzalez” by Pat Boone and Bobby Darin singing “Dream Lover”. Anybody who has worked with Sam can’t help but laugh about that.

It makes sense since Sam can go from the romantic cinema “You Bring the Sunshine”, where one can envision sharing smiles and kisses with a sun tanned babe in the Florida Keys and then turns around and writes “Lee Ann Womack Truck” which he affectionately calls his “Bless your little heart” song to Music Row.

In a town where you get what you bring to the table; Sam is a Muscle Shoals laden Beatle beat master. One of his strongest songs “Red Bulls and Caffeine Pills”, an ode to the modern trucker or just commentary on a late night ride back to see his wife, Dawn,  in New Jersey veers with bounce- in- your- car seat rhythm ala “Get Back” to Preston Starr-ing in a McCartney Bass boogie thriller of a hook.

When Sam works, which is almost all the time, it’s like he is running his own club house, signing up memberships on his mailing list and getting friends out to shows like it was Madison Square Garden or at least CBGB’s when Blondie, The Ramones and The Talking Heads were breaking and making new rules. He always thinks about presentation whether it is a song sampler or sitting on a stool playing at The Bluebird Café. 

Sam not only thinks of himself, but those he admires, keeping everybody in touch with up and coming news through his website and social networking pages.  The most important thing is he can sing his songs breaking bread with an Eddie Hinton– Dan Penn- Donnie Fritts kind of gravel and whiskey excess and turn around and deliver what the song asks for, whether it is Tom Waits or Peter Tosh.

This year seems to be playing out like so many well-placed notes in a melody, a culmination of years of bar band covers and the last few putting pen to paper where songwriting and publishing are an art. If there have been any setbacks for Sam in his Nashville life, he has taken them like the Pinball Wizard getting a match for an extra game on a Kiss Pinball Machine.

Mary Hartman

Sam has a couple of upcoming gigs; John Carter Cash will warm up for Mary Hartman and The Mistakes at The Rutledge on Oct. 26th, followed by a show at Douglas Corner Cafe on November 20th.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville,  TN

Kenny Harlan at Commodore/photo/Brad Hardisty

 Kenny Harlan, Nashville Singer/Songwriter, celebrated his Birthday at Commodore Grill last night with friends including long time co-writing partner, Suzahn Fiering performing in his first songwriter round at Commodore Grill in almost two years.

Debi Champion longtime host of the successful songwriter nights played the gracious host delivering a slice of Chocolate Mousse Cake when he was on stage and getting the crowd to join in a round of “Happy Birthday”.

Kenny performed the song that got a lot of buzz on triple-A/Americana radio and in Europe in 2008, “Waiting for You”. It was not a trip down memory lane but a reminder of the strength of his ever the romantic lyrics that give thought to longing love and a bright hope for the lonely hearts club.

It was an all-star round prior to Kenny’s performance featuring Gary Hanan who co-wrote the top ten Country hits, “When I Knew It All” and “Tequila Makes her Clothes Fall Off” and Sam Cooper with his cinematic ode to walking poetry “East Nashville Girls”. If you live here you know what he is talking about.

We got a chance to catch up that evening and I found out he has been busy being Dad. His daughter, who turns three and his wife have been the center of his attention for the last couple of years in Franklin, Tennessee. Nashville is not only a great town to be a singer/songwriter but also to raise a family as one can tell by the number of Artists who have moved here over the last few years.

 Kenny shared lyrics of a song he wrote as a tribute to his father who passed away recently. We reflected on past accomplishments and Kenny shared I Phone videos of his daughter while talking about new material that should be coming out over the next year.

Suzahn who has been busy instructing songwriter workshops in Prague and working for Sir Paul McCartney’s Organization for the past several months was hoping to get some writer’s nights going with Kenny before she goes back to England.

Kenny who knows to always travel with his trusted Martin guitar, was not planning on playing, but hoped to get in on the action and had a wonderful Birthday at one of the Nashville’s finest venues.  

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN