Johnny Cooper (Acoustic) Live at Blaine's Pub
Who is Johnny Cooper.... ...an evocative blend of soul, rock and pop Musicians get noticed for a wide array of reasons. Some win various competitions, while others seem to have as much in the way of connections as in pure talent. Then there are those who simply demand attention through performances so dynamic and powerful that they simply can not be ignored. Johnny Cooper is one of those artists.
The frontman of the band that bears his name, Cooper already has reached dual-threat status: he has rare talent that has earned him critical acclaim for his recordings and live shows, and he performs with an energy that captivates audiences in venues of all sizes. That he has grown so successful — Cooper already has sold more than 50,000 albums — so quickly is hardly surprising, considering he is thriving in the environment in which he was raised. With a mother who was a dance choreographer and a father who owned nightclubs and wrote songs with him, Cooper has been around entertainers throughout his life, and now features a sound that draws on his enormous range of musical influences — a list that includes pop, classic rock, R&B, hip-hop and country — and features an irresistible energy. “That’s what my whole thing’s about,” Cooper says. “I can’t tell you that tomorrow, I’m not going to write a country song, or a funk song, or team up with a rapper. I love it when you tell me I can’t write a certain kind of song because then I’m going to show up and say, ‘glad you said I can’t do it — here it is.’ “I like a lot of different artists. I listened to a lot of Queen growing up, and Stevie Wonder has had a big effect on my life. When I first heard Stevie Wonder, I wanted to get up and move. I’m drawn to people who get up there and play with cajones. If I want to hear you sing, I can stay at home and listen to a recording, but if I want to see a show, I want to see a show. That’s the way I am on stage.”
Of course, on-stage theatrics can carry a performer only so far. At his core, Cooper is an extraordinarily gifted musician whose versatility belies his youth. His rich voice is both exceedingly talented and well trained; few singers are willing to perform covers of artists like Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, TLC and James Brown, as Cooper did (largely while building up the library of his own compositions) and he does so with a confidence and style worthy of the original artists. He also is a virtuoso guitarist who can dazzle with his full band, in duo performances with a drummer or as a solo acoustic artist.
While recording his first several albums, Cooper has become an in-demand performer, often booking more than 200 shows a year and creating music for numerous projects. “I like to write to a challenge,” Cooper says. “A producer called me and said he needed a song for a movie. He said it needed to be ‘kind of honky-tonk, kind of George Jones-ish.’ So I told him to send me the scene — no music, just audio — and I would write a song that fits the scene. I started listening to a bunch of George Jones music and came up with a song, Devil in Glass, that got accepted into the movie.” Cooper’s band is as diverse as its leader. In 2012 Johnny was introduced to bassist/keyboardist/producer Jay Sandford, through a mutual friend/musician Brad Cooper. Johnny and Jay hit it off immediately, having a lot of the same mentors and thoughts about music. Later that year, Cooper was in search of a new full-time bassist," at that moment I knew Jay was the man to call, I saw him play with brad a few times and knew he would be a great fit." Cooper and Sandford exchanged a few phone calls to set up rehearsals when Sandford mentioned he had a friend Cris Brenham keyboardist/producer. Sandford thought Brenham would be a great addition to the group and brought him in for the first rehearsal. Cooper says "We ran 3 or 4 songs and by that point, I knew that these guys were exactly what I was missing, not only did they elevate the music, they elevated me". shortly after, they brought in the final piece to the equation drummer/percussionist James "slim" Dunn.
Cooper and Dunn have known each other over several years while Dunn was the drummer for the joey green band. Cooper says "Slim and I go way back and i always thought he was very talented, it wasn't until we all figured out that we all knew EACH OTHER that it really clicked, then i knew we had something special."