Photo by Chip Scheuer
Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia once said, “Just because you’re a musician doesn’t mean all your ideas are about music,” but nobody told that to local musician Scott Cooper. Besides working as a sales rep for Drumskull Drums and a guitar instructor through UCSC, the 47-year-old single father also plays in five separate bands, among them jam band Secret Chimp, bluegrass outfit the Intangibillies and his main project, the Grateful Dead tribute band China Cats.
Beginning as a one-time act to fill in an open gig at Henfling’s Tavern in Ben Lomond, the China Cats have been playing to crowds of Deadheads for more than five years. In that time, Cooper has found himself in the middle of a blossoming Dead revival.
“Ten years ago there was maybe one Dead tribute band in the Bay Area that was gigging around. Then, about five years ago, these Dead tribute bands started springing up,” Cooper says. “Right now, there are maybe seven bands in the Bay Area. The scene is so active now that on any given night, when someone can’t make it, there’s a farm support system.”
The same can be said for Cooper’s other band, the Intangibillies, who play at Bocci’s Cellar on the second Monday of every month. The six-piece bluegrass ensemble began as a friendly jam session, blossoming into what was then known as Groovegrass, and has a support network of different musicians ready to fill on a call. “Then we got the brilliant idea to move it from someone's house, where we'd have to bring our own beer and tequila, to a bar,” laughs Cooper.
This year marks Cooper’s first solo release, A Leg Trick. The album is an 11-track conglomeration of groove-based American rock sprinkled with blues, country and New Orleans-–inspired sounds to bring out the best boogie-woogie flavor in each song. Even more, it features an array of jam band heavyweights such as Galactic’s Bill Ellman and ex-Doobie Brothers band member Dale Ockerman.
“Up until five years ago, I was only a side man,” Cooper explains. “These songs were always with me, so I needed to give them life.”
SCOTT COOPER with the Intangibillies
Second Mondays at Bocci’s Cellar