China Cats frontman Scott Cooper’s full plate just got a little fuller.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
There aren’t enough hours in the day for Scott Cooper: In addition to raising his 8-year-old son on his own, working as a sales rep for Drumskull Drums in Santa Cruz and fronting the popular Grateful Dead tribute band the China Cats, he recently managed to squeeze out his solo debut, A Leg Trick.
The musician has spent a majority of the past 30 years as a sideman working with other local bands but was always writing original tunes.
“I never intended to do anything with the songs except bring them to the various projects I’m in,” he says.
But when Cooper, who performs solo Friday at Bistro Beaujolais, stepped up as the frontman for the China Cats, who gather large crowds regularly, he seized the spotlight.
“We always have a good draw for the China Cats, but it’s not like we could sell CDs and merchandise of a tribute band,” he says. “I figured I should take advantage of that opportunity and have something for sale there. I’m my own worst critic, but I’m not too ashamed of the recordings on this album.”
The 11-track LP – featuring guest spots from Doobie Bros’ Dale Ockerman and Little Feat’s Bill Payne – is a medley of Americana, New Orleans sounds and jammy Dead goodness. The instrumental “Caboose on the Loose” is a good-time-traveling tune led by pedal steel and guitar and would have easily fit into Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions’ song gamut. “So Right So Long” brings a laid back, Steely Dan ’70s crispness. And on “Dance the Night,” Cooper shows off the whiteboy blues chops he picked up as a sit-in drummer at So-Cal blues clubs. With good reason, Cooper decided to include one cover on the album: Warren Zevon’s “Accidentally Like a Martyr.”
“That song in particular, I always wished Jerry Garcia would’ve done it in the Jerry Garcia Band,” he says. “I started doing it in random gigs and I just decided I’ll record it the way I hear it because the Dead never did.”
SCOTT COOPER performs 6-9pm Friday, June 8, at Bistro Beaujolais, Junipero and Ocean, Carmel. Free. 624-5600.