Americana Music Star Dana Cooper ‘Rocks the Library’ with Friday Concert at TPML

Dana Cooper
The Houston Chronicle's Andrew Dansby describes Dana Cooper's new album, "I Can Face the Truth," as melodic as it is thoughtful. Image courtesy of Dana Cooper.

Nashville-based Americana music star and guitarist Dana Cooper, a poetic songwriter and insightful storyteller, will ‘Rock the Library’ from 6-7:30 p.m. Friday, May 26 at Tye Preston Memorial Library (TPML), 16311 S. Access Rd., Canyon Lake.

TPML’s new Adult Services Coordinator Nicky Pownall said Cooper’s appearance is made possible by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts and matching funds from the Friends of Tye Preston Memorial Library.

“My predecessor ran a Concert Interest Survey a few months back to gather feedback on what genres of music our patrons would like to have featured for concerts at the library,” she said. “Overwhelmingly, the survey responses showed a great interest in Country, Folk, and Americana artists. Partnering with the Texas Commission on the Arts, we were able to both identify Dana Cooper as a wonderfully talented match for our library as well as secure generous funding to bring him out for a 1 1/2-hour-long concert completely free to the public.”

Seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Library cards are not required for admission.

Cooper will perform songs from his new album, “I Can Face the Truth.”

The idea for the album’s featured song, “Traveler Too,” literally “blew” into Cooper’s ear while he was on a 2015 solo tour of Ireland, a country that’s infatuated him ever since he was invited to attend a songwriting festival in Belfast, Northern Ireland years earlier.

On a whim, Cooper looked at a map and decided to visit Kilmore Quay, a small, picturesque fishing village in County Wexford.

It was February and the cold, blustery winds were so strong he could barely stand up on the beach. Along the forlorn shoreline stood two monuments dedicated to all of the souls who never returned from the sea.

“I thought of all us vulnerable human beings traveling through space and time just trying to find a way to get along,” he said.

A reviewer for Americana Highways later wrote, “The song instantly connects with the audience — we’re all travelers, we’re all trying to connect.”

Cooper’s own musical journey officially began at age 20, when he moved to Los Angeles, couch-surfed and briefly tried to make it on his own.

“It was just a rough three or four months out there, and I kind of left with my tail between my legs and went back home (to Kansas),” he said.

A few weeks later, Elektra Records called and offered Cooper a deal. He returned to Los Angeles and recorded his first album with members of “The Section,” Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar, Jim Horn, Al Perkins, Jim Gordon, Joe Osborne and Lee Holdridge.

“It was mind-blowing,” he said. “It was a great experience for me…I went in there as a 20-year-old wet behind the ears and learned so much from these people.”

But it was a humbling experience, too.

Elektra dropped him after 1 1/2 years.

Cooper said the experience gave him a thicker skin. Ultimately, he forged on and over the years carved out a career as an independent artist.

“I don’t answer to anyone except the listening audience,” he said. “It enabled me to do the things I want to and not be limited by a board of advisors.”

Cooper left California for Seattle, where he lived for a year before relocating to Houston, where he spent the next 11 years. In 1988 he moved permanently to Nashville.

Over the years he’s recorded with Texas Americana artist Shake Russell, formed the experimental bands DC3 and Nuclear Family, and released a solo project called “Complicated Stuff.”

In Nashville, Cooper collaborated with other songwriters including Tom Kimmel, Don Henry, Hal Ketchum, Josh Leo, Kim Richey, Sally Barris, Pat Alger, Kim Carnes, Pierce Pettis and Allen Shamblin.

In all, he’s released 30 albums.

Cooper’s songs have been recorded by artists like bluegrass singer Claire Lynch, Irish vocalist Maura O’Connell, Nashville singer Jonell Mosser, and songwriters Pierce Pettis and Susan Werner.

In 2022, Cooper said he performed 102 live shows in 29 states in addition to making appearances on radio shows and podcasts.

“It’s a lot of days out,” he said, adding he prefers traveling solo to incurring the expenses associated with a band.

Cooper invites fans from his earlier Texas days to come out and get reacquainted.

“People say, ‘I haven’t seen you in 20 or 30 years,'” he said. “Well, you need to get out more often. It’s always fun for me to see both older and newer fans.”


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