Curtis Cooper | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN
The Key Studio Sessions: Curtis Cooper
Philadelphia’s Curtis Cooper laughs when asked about his the next shows he’s playing in town. He quickly rattles off some playful names of places that sound semi-familiar — All Night Diner, Overlook Hotel — then clarifies: “they’re all basements. All house shows.”
It’s true: Cooper has hit the DIY scene hard lately, particularly since the March release of his debut LP Laughing In Line. And it suits him well, between his explosive energy as a performer, his fuzzed-out guitar tones and his skateboarder’s demeanor, mellowed out and amped up all at the same time.
He’s a punk rock dude at heart, make no mistake. But there’s more to him than punk. His songwriting betrays a fondness for The Beatles and their descendants (Elliott Smith in particular) and if you see him with an acoustic guitar and no other accompaniment (check his Random Tea Session), he’s directly in singer-songwriter / busker / Avett Brothers territory.
And that’s not even to broach his jazz leanings, of which there are many. His song “Side,” performed live for The Key Studio Sessions, has melody lines that could have come from Serge Gainsbourgh or Nina Simone. They’re properly amplified, of course, but pay attention to the playing: Cooper on guitar, Scott Sitzer on drums and Jack Zaferes on bass all take sick solos. For whatever their basement show trappings, it’s clear these gents spent a shit-ton of time practicing their instruments, and jazz trio style, everybody gets their time to shine.
This performance for The Key Studio Sessions is a particularly special one for Cooper. He’s been performing with this band since the record came out, but his bandmates are busy in their own projects. Sitzer drums for Mumblr, which is currently on a big U.S. tour, while Zaferes has a gig playing bass with Stolen Rhodes, which will keep him on the road until sometime in 2017. This Key Studio Session documents the final time these three friends performed together, at least for the forseeable future.
But Cooper is keeping out there on his own. Tonight, he hits the South Philly house Tralfamadore; he’ll be at Overlook Hotel on October 22nd; he’s playing a System of a Down covers set for a Halloweekend gig at All Night Diner on October 28th; and he’ll be at Waiting Room on November 18th. All basements, yes. All house shows. But all undoubtedly awesome.
Watch Curtis Cooper and his band perform “Side” below via VuHaus, stream the session in its entirety and grab a free download at our Soundcloud page.
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