When asked what Americana music was, my flippant answer was “Country music that doesn’t suck.” I later gave a more detailed one which described an Americana artist to be one who writes their own songs, plays an instrument and sings without Auto-Tune. In other words, there’s much more to the package than just wearing a hat and warbling on stage.
Ross Cooper is one new Americana artist who I find satisfying on all three counts: writing, playing and singing. And if there’s justice in Music City, his upcoming record “I Rode the Wild Horses” will surely get him the notice he deserves. About wearing that hat, Cooper has every right to do so. For as the haunting title track of his record reveals, Ross was once a rodeo cowboy back in his native Texas.
While the Lubbock native’s bio comes with an enticing RIYL (“recommended if you like”), I was also equally impressed with his RBHL (“recommended because he likes”) that you will read below. My thanks to Ross Cooper for introducing me to his music and subjecting himself to my 11 Questions.
Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?
I’m from Lubbock, TX originally. I moved to Nashville a little more than five years ago. I moved here because this town is the music mecca. I started finding out more and more about this phenomenal music scene that was happening under the radar. I had a bit of an epiphany when I realized all of the bands I was digging happened to live in East Nashville. It’s a really special time to be here.
What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them Were they CD, vinyl or digital?
The first album I ever bought was The Mavericks’ What a Crying Shame. It was on CD. It was the first CD that we had I think, and my dad and I wore that thing out. We definitely got some miles out of it. The last album I bought was At Home in the Big Lonesome by Drew Kennedy on iTunes. That guy is a genius, and the album is incredible front to back.
First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?
First was Reba McEntire, and last was JAY-Z.
Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?
Well…there are a lot of stars missing from the Walk of Fame. George Jones isn’t on there; neither are George Strait, Merle Haggard, Waylon, Willie, etc. But, I’d say Roger Miller. Probably one of the most uniquely creative country artists there ever was.
Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?
For coffee, I like Sip Cafe off of Gallatin Pike, and for pizza, Five Points all day, any day.
What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?
Songs and Stories by Guy Clark
Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?
Whataburger hands down.
The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.
I’ve played The Bluebird with Derik Hultquist, Dean Fields, and Ben Danaher, and I would do it again in a second. Those dudes are great friends and extraordinary talents. It was one of the best times I’ve had playing music.
What are your favorite music venues to play in town?
Man, this town is full of great venues. The 5 Spot and 3rd & Lindsley are my two favorites. The 5 Spot has the coolest mood/vibe, and 3rd & Lindsley always sounds phenomenal. I haven’t played the Ryman yet, but if I get to, I can almost guarantee that it would top the list.
Name a musician who you’d like to see move here?
I thought everyone was already here! Lots of folks moving to town. As far as who I’d like to see move here? It could be cool if Ryan Adams moved back. Of course, it’s a much different town now than it was when he lived here. I’d assume he couldn’t go anywhere around town without getting harassed by every musician and writer (including myself–I cut my teeth on his songs), but it would still be cool.
Finally, what’s in your musical future?
Lots of shows is what the immediate future holds. It will be the highway life for a while, but the long-term hope is to keep making records, grow the fan base, and pack out those places like the Ryman.