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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Henry Copper

Henry Cooper is in love, in love with a sound, a high-water-mark of blues guitar tone that had been set by the likes of Elmore James, Earl Hooker, Robert Nighthawk and Hop Wilson. It is clear from his newest release, "Slide Man", that it is influence, not imitation, that he has learned from the blues masters. He has taken to heart the importance of keeping things uncluttered and of driving straight down the middle of the groove until the last note has faded. The slide into the blues began for Henry at the age of 16, while he was working at the Eugene (OR) Hotel as a busboy. It was while listening to a local radio station that he heard The Paul Butterfield Band playing "The Work Song" off of "East West". Henry recalls, "I heard that amplified harp and thought "My God! What's that sound? It was amazing, I'd never heard anything like it." Henry began buying Blues records - one of the first ones he bought was "Fathers and Sons", which featured (among others) Paul Butterfield and Muddy Waters. Living in Eugene, Cooper was surrounded by some of the best Northwest harmonica players: Curtis Salgado (with his band the Nighthawks), Bill Rhoades, and Mike Mother. Henry checked them out, picked their brains and got turned on to Little Walter and other blues musicians. By age 19, he made his first recording as a harp player, a 45 with his friend Chris Coltraine. After finding a lap steel guitar at a pawn shop, Henry began using the licks he knew on the harmonica and applying them to the guitar as well as the sounds he'd heard from Elmore James, Muddy Waters and Albert Collins. By the age of 22, he was playing guitar in his first band Los Explorers. Even though he was living in Eugene, a small college town, there was a thriving blues scene and the musicians were always happy to offer their knowledge openly to an eager guitar player. After a few different bands, Henry met Boyd Small and Andy Strange and, along with former Los Explorers band-mate John Barley, they formed Los Falcons. In 1987 Los Falcons was booked into a New Year's Eve show with Screamin' Jay Hawkins. The band learned a bunch of Jay's tunes for the show and during sound check, Jay heard them play and said, "I'm taking you boys to Europe with me!" When the tour ended Henry moved to Portland and started several other bands which included: Henry and the Hamhawks and one of Portland, Oregon's favorite trios, The Terraplanes. Henry's relationship with Burnside Records began in the early 90's when he and his wife Anne moved to Seattle and Henry was introduced to a singer named Duffy Bishop, who was looking for a blues guitarist for her new band. Little did Henry know that The Duffy Bishop Band would take him on a five year ride as one of the hottest blues bands in the Northwest. The Duffy Bishop Band along with Cooper on guitar recorded two CD's for Burnside, "Bottled Oddities" and "Back To The Bone", before he decided that it was time for him to fly solo. Devoting most of 1997 to writing and recording, "Baby Please" was released on his own label, High Action Records, in May of 1998. Being Cooper's first solo effort, with limited distribution, "Baby Please" sold over two thousand copies and made several favorite lists from critics and fans alike. It made Real Blues top 100 CD's of 1998 as well as winning one of their four awards for "Best Pacific Northwest Blues CD Releases". Henry also shared Real Blues' "Best Slide Blues Guitarist in North America" award that year.

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