OK, over-40 readership, sorry if I lost you back there. Here's a band you'll be interested in. It's called Cooper Street and it plays a stripped-down style of alternative rock influenced by bands like Wilco, Ryan Adams, and the Wallflowers. I'm pretty sure I heard some Neil Young in there too, even though he's not listed on the band's website. Led by the prolific songwriter Peter Goodman, Cooper Street's finely crafted melodies and heartfelt vocals seemed to reach out and touch the night's listeners, who sat transfixed by the sounds emanating from the Don Quixote's stage. After the show, bassist Blake Cooper said a new drummer has given the band a breath of fresh air, and their performance last week certainly indicated good energy. Of course, a band like Cooper Street knows that artistic potency lies in the music itself, and like a rapper with no ghetto, the music must speak for itself.

Ask Peter Goodman, frontman of the local alt-Americana band Cooper Street (CS) about his songwriting process and he’ll sum it up for you in one word: involuntary. “I think any singer-songwriter’s got a similar story, but I am compelled,” he says of the habit he’s had no choice but to indulge since high school. “It’s not like an option for me to write songs. It has to be done.” Goodman then takes his lyrics and nascent tunes to the other three men of CS who evolve the songs, adding instruments, texture and harmonies. More than just fellow musicians though, CS’s members are all good friends. “We practice every week and we do focus on the music a lot, but it’s sort of boys’ night out,” he says. Inspired by musicians like Counting Crows, Ryan Adams and Uncle Tupelo, CS delivers warm and easygoing alt-country rock originals. The perfect timbre of Goodman’s wistful gristle combined with lyrics that traffic heavily in reminiscence all but guarantee the onset of nostalgia. “I did one of those personality tests a long time ago and I’m an intuitive, feeling person,” he explains. “I hold onto things a long time.” If there’s a net effect of CS’s sound, it’s the ability to impart a vague, but encompassing sense of reassurance. Maybe it’s the beer in your hand or the fact that Goodman is up there pouring out his thoughts in the hopes that you’ll work through some of your own unfinished ruminations, but there’s a definite feeling of ‘yeah, maybe everything in your life hasn’t gone the way you planned, but somehow it might all just work out.’ “Having the ability to cause someone to get in touch with their emotions and their feelings, that’s an important thing to me,” Goodman says. Joining CS will be likeminded local alt-Americana outfit, the Michael Gaither Band. Ticket proceeds will benefit the Felton Library Friends.

Sitting at a small table in the E3 Playhouse on Front Street in Santa Cruz, I was telling my friend Peter Goodman about an author I had seen earlier in the day at the first ever Book Group Expo in San Jose.

A waitress brought our food — I had ordered a double serving of grilled prawns — and up on stage a musician was playing guitar and singing.

Peter and his group, Cooper Street, would be going on next.

I began to tell Peter about the writer I had listened to that afternoon. His name is Ron McLarty, and he has been running around on book tour for the past few months.

Some authors complain about book tours. But McLarty was not inclined to whine about anything. Not after a Brinks truck had backed up to his house and filled his yard with money. His words, not mine.

It seems that Mr. McLarty, although earning a living as an actor for most of his life, has also harbored a passion for writing. Over the years he has crafted 10 novels. But he could find no one in the literary world who shared his enthusiasm for his work. No agent wanted to represent him. No publishers were beating on his doors. Nada.

So to stage and screen he stuck, traveling back and forth across the country to play a role here, a part there.

Sometimes he took a gig in a recording studio to read a book on tape.

One day he begged for some extra studio time to record one of his own novels. He must have been persuasive; his request was granted. He made a few copies of "The Memory of Running" and sent them out into the world like messages in bottles cast on the sea.

While driving cross-country from the East Coast on his way to a California acting job, a friend called him. Pick up a copy of Entertainment Weekly, his buddy said. Stephen King has written about your book.

Somehow, the writer of spooky tales had discovered the unpublished novel on tape and had declared it "the best book you can't read."

By the time McLarty returned home, there were lots of agents who wanted to represent him, and publishers licking their chops like hounds on the scent of a tender rabbit. Not long after, the truck filled with money arrived. And when McLarty's publisher said they'd like a couple more books by the newly discovered writer, he just grinned and said he happened to have nine more.

It was one of the best stories I have heard in a long time. A guy spends years doing something he loves, while being completely ignored by the rest of the world, and he doesn't quit. He liked to write. He thought he was good. He didn't stop just because no one seemed to be noticing. And then, in some kind of fluke, he is discovered. And he is happier now than he could ever have been if it had happened early on.

There he sat, his hair and beard snowy white. His smile was contagious. He bubbled and sparkled like a vintage champagne.

You just never know, I told Peter as we sat next to each other in the noisy nightclub. Then I hugged him and watched as he and his bandmates took the stage in the release party for their newest CD, "Deny the Accident."

The room was packed with friends and family and even total strangers. Our group ordered up another round of drinks. And as we listened, I thought about how many years these talented guys have been playing together. How they all have their day jobs, but how much they love this. Writing, singing, performing — whether they get discovered or not, whether a Brink's truck filled with money ever pulls up in front of their houses or doesn't.

And I also wondered if anyone I know might have Stephen King's address. Perhaps we could send him a CD.

Mailing List

Mailing List

Links

Facebook -- https://www.facebook.com/CooperStreetMusic/

Booking Contact Info

Peter Goodman 
831.247.2656
info@cooperstreetmusic.com