Cole Withers
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Cole Withers

Idyllwild, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2017 | SELF

Idyllwild, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2017
Band Rock Pop




"Cole Withers Band debuts ‘The Last Bookstore’"

“The Last Bookstore,” a standout collection of original tunes written and sung by Cole Withers, delivers the authentic experience. Produced by Steve Desterhaft and Mike Gustin under Red Manzanita Records label, recorded at MTG Studios in Idyllwild and debuted March 6 at House of Blues in Anaheim, it already is creating buzz. The soft release is Friday, April 20, at Idyology; the hard release is June 7 at The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles.

Haunting and moving are undisputed descriptors of Withers’ lyrics. His songs, such as “Wash Away,” “Eastern Standard Time” and “Rescue Me” evoke nostalgia for the grit where remorse and regret combine with all that is fine; reminding the listener that renewal, ever in the offing, might be just a heartbeat away.

Three core band members form a trio with palpable synergy. Withers leads vocals and plays rhythm guitar, Desterhaft is masterful on lead guitar and vocals, and Gustin, dynamic on drums, also sings back-up harmony. The album features two guest performers, namely Idyllwild Arts’ Paul Carman on sax and Mark Cummings on bass, both world-class talents. Carman predicts, “This band is the next biggest thing to come out of Idyllwild.”

Withers, born in New York City, emerged as a writer early in life. Educated in the arts, his poetry and songs are inspired by a life deeply lived. Development of his voice came later and almost by accident, if any such thing exists. Withers’ voice majestically resounds with pain and poignant phrasing creating a visceral response reminiscent of Michael McDonald or the soft edge captured on Elton John’s early recordings.

Desterhaft, lead guitar and vocalist for 35 years in both rock and country genres, brings cinematic elements to unique chord phrasings and background vocals throughout the album.

Gustin is a career drummer and vocalist whose natural sense of rhythm and power sets the album ablaze. Gustin is credited by Desterhaft with “being one of the most grounded producers I’d ever worked with. In the studio, Gustin immediately took me out of my comfort zone. Reluctantly, I followed his direction and the results are astounding, even to me.” Desterhaft recalls.

A series of unscripted meetings in Idyllwild in early 2017 led to a collision of talent, potential and creative energy as the three began to lay down the bones of an album comprising Wither’s songs.

When asked why Idyllwild, the answer was unequivocal. “There seems to be a creative energy sitting right here that can’t be ignored,” observed Desterhaft. Withers added, “It’s a profoundly creative place to live. I feel blessed to live here. Since the beginning, the community welcomed our music and has been so supportive; an experience we will never forget. And, we’re always happy when local musicians such as Paul Carman on sax and Mark Cummings on bass sit in.”

The decision to name the album “The Last Bookstore” is the band’s homage to a dying institution. “Iconic bookstores, large and small from coast to coast throughout my life, are where I connected with both living and published artists, and it’s where I fell in love with literature. Independent bookstores are a dying institution that feeds imagination and creativity, their slow demise is irreplaceable for artists. Touring the album this summer, venues will include independent bookstores wherever possible to punctuate this message,” said Withers.

When the producers were asked why they wanted to produce this album, the question was perhaps answered best by Gustin, who said, “Cole’s lyrics, as powerful as they are, have a spiritual undertone having a lot to do with finding your way to personal fulfillment. When I meet exceptional talent with provocative lyrics, that’s a project I want to record and produce.” - Idyllwild Town Crier

"Cole Withers - Where I Belong"

The sentiment is clear ... and dear. The words echo in my mind. Such is the magic created by Cole Withers in his song “The Last Bookstore” as well as the title of his CD. Cole had only been playing his guitar for six months when he met a virtuoso guitar player in Steve Desterhaft during the summer of 2016. Thus began a collaboration completed by the addition of master drummer, Mike Gustin, in the fall of that year. Serendipity. By January 2017, they were in Mike’s studio recording the songs Cole had written in Los Angeles the year before. They have been making magic ever since and entertaining folks with their live performances throughout Idyllwild and beyond.

Idyllwild is the beneficiary of Cole’s varied and remarkable background. Fine Arts Major, Photographer, Playwright, Screenwriter, Songwriter, Singer.

What inspires his music? “Life, the human condition and the potential for transformation.” His songs “Wash Away” and “Rescue Me” seem to bear out a life lived in transformation, a revolution of a soul, heartfelt and hungry. One of Cole’s favorite songs “Wash Away” is a prayer to remove “the shortcomings that keep us from connection, from love.”
We have Van Morrison to thank for influencing Cole’s mellow and mesmerizing style; we have his son, Dash, to thank for his stage name. Born Tom Gallagher, he wanted to differentiate his screenwriting persona from that of his developing songwriting/performing career. A random name generator search and “Cole Withers” was born.

According to Cole, he is a writer first and a musician second. “My challenge is to write songs that are useful to the soul; that evoke emotion, that speak honestly, that don’t pander. My job is to be honest and truthful about my experience. Period. I can only write what I know.” Listening to “Mary Queen of Mt. Washington” and “Ghost of God” you can feel the soul-searching and a life filled with more questions than answers. Perhaps influenced by his year studying to be a Franciscan Priest or simply jumping into life with both feet, quickly, enthusiastically, but not without trepidation.
A native New Yorker, Cole boasts being “loud, direct and jocular in a way that makes most feel a bit uncomfortable.” His song “Eastern Standard” evokes memories and places missed, such as The East Village, 12th Street and Broadway where he was raised artistically and of mentors, teachers and his fathers: “the great minds that did their best to help shape the man I am today.”

When asked if he had a favorite quotation about music, Cole replied with one by Bob Marley: “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

Looking forward, we can anticipate more original songs for the next CD, a video “Love Never Ends” and films that include some of Cole’s songs.

With that, I will leave you with Cole’s lyrics in my head from “The Last Bookstore.”

“... many years ago, many dreams ago, many books ago, I found you ...
In the last bookstore, I fell in love with you.”

Thanks, Cole. - Idyllwild Life Magazine


Still working on that hot first release.



Cole Withers

"Cole Withers, born in New York City, emerged as a writer early in life. Educated in the arts, his poetry and songs are inspired by a life deeply lived. Development of his voice came later and almost by accident, if any such thing exists. Withers’ voice majestically resounds with pain and poignant phrasing creating a visceral response reminiscent of Bob Seger or the soft edge captured on Elton John’s early recordings."

Band Members