Eli Cook
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Eli Cook

Charlottesville, Virginia, United States | SELF

Charlottesville, Virginia, United States | SELF
Band Blues Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos





ELI COOK by Rick Rubin
EVERYBODY KNOWS THE STORY OF the crossroads, where blues guitarists go at midnight
to trade their souls to the devil for
musical prowess. It’s just a myth, of course, but if it was true, 21-year-old firebrand Eli Cook
could have bragging rights, as his scarifying solo-country blues chill like a hellhound on your trail.
Like Son House, Skip James, and the other prewar country blues masters who inspired him, Cook received his grounding in gospel
music—he was even invited to play in backwoods black churches—performing at local revivals around Charlottesville, Virginia, where
his deeply emotional solo-acoustic playing made him stand out. Unlike those early bluesmen,however, Cook was never conflicted about performing sacred versus profane music.
“It didn’t seem unnatural,” says Cook, who was the product of a rural Southern upbringing where people moved easily
between genres. “It’s what was around me, and I just tried to pick up on everything and everybody, including Doc Watson and Chet
Atkins. In fact, hearing Chet fingerpick made me realize I didn’t need a band.”
On the stunning Miss Blues’es Child
[Valley Entertainment], Cook’s fingerstyle technique features his thumb and a metal fingerpick turned backwards on his index
finger to create a larger and louder “fingernail.” His slashing slide work on a ’64 Gibson J-50, fitted with a Dean Markley Pro-
Mag pickup, and plugged into a reissue Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer and a ’68 Fender Super Reverb, often turns into a ferocious
howl. He also stomps a kick drum. A selftaught player, Cook’s introduction to classicblues and rock came via his parents’ record
“I remember hearing that Keith Richards played in open tunings,” he recalls. “And, one day, I fell into open D [D, A, D, F#, A, D,
low to high] and it sounded like Elmore James. I thought, ‘S**t, this is it!’”
Although Cook’s playing would eventually be influenced by the blues-rock styles of Duane Allman and Johnny Winter, he was
initially more influenced by Brian Jones, who launched him on a journey back to the originators.
“Son House was raw and basic, playing at the 12th, 5th and 7th frets, and I was happy to play early blues and R&B that way,”
explains Cook, referring to where the I, IV, and V chords are located in open D tuning—an approach that can be heard to devastating
effect on his cover of Robert Johnson’s“Terraplane Blues.”
Using a combination of fretted and slide licks for the I chord in the open position, and at the 12th fret, he also quotes James’“Dust My Broom” and Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man” within a maelstrom of grinding, overdriven tones. Cook’s mournful take on Earl King’s “Trick Bag” is lower in volume. Fretting
without the slide on an unamplified
Washburn 12-string acoustic—reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hear My Train a’ Comin’” and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Life by the Drop”—he tosses off twisting, serpentine
runs as effortlessly as his predecessors. Playing
with a high action and hefty D’Addario EXP13 bronze strings helps him achieve his big sound.
Like many solo-blues guitarists, Cook employs his left hand thumb for fretting.
“With the slide on your pinky, you can play bass notes with your other fingers,” he explains. “I do that on Leadbelly’s ‘Goodnight
Irene,’ which is in D tuning. In the first verse, I pluck the sixth string (D) open, and then, using the slide, I move up to the 4th fret on the first string (D) to F# , the major
third. Then, I slide down on the first string from the 7th fret (A) to the open string (D), while moving my thumb up on the sixth string to the 4th fret (F# ), at the same time
picking the middle open strings for a drone effect.”
Cook’s dark, unamplified, non-slide original “Highway Song” is in D, and it shows a Skip James influence, though James tuned
to open Dm [D, A, D, F, A, D, low to high].
“I play octaves on the three D strings, and, because it is sort of a minor key song, I play the minor third (F) at the 3rd fret on
the sixth and first strings, while mainly staying away from the major third (F# ).”
Cook does execute the classic blues move from the minor third to major third, however, “by playing the fourth string at the 3rd
fret (F) and then plucking the third string (F# ) open.”
The album’s apocalyptic closing track, Bukka White’s “Fixin’ to Die,” is done up in hill country style, similar to the late R.L.
Burnside. It is an outgrowth of the work songs of the past—such as “Walking Blues”—that were sung in the lumber camps
to synchronize the workers when chopping trees, and is founded on a relentlessly thumping 4/4 groove.
“That’s the rowdiest track,” says Cook.
“I’m hitting the strings real hard with the side of my thumb. It’s a combination of alternately
strumming up on the treble strings
with your fingers, and then slapping down with your thumb on the bass strings.”
With rhythmic drive and intensity rivaling Son House, he hammers the I chord modal stomp with a power that makes the
White Stripes sound like polite parlor music.
“It’s one of those simpler songs that people take for granted, but the technique is subtle,” Cook explains. “For example, the
main riff in D starts with the bottom three strings, sliding up to the 3rd fret (F), the 5th fret (G), and then back to the open strings,
with variations on the order of the chords.
And there’s also deciding when to slide into a chord from above or below.”
Likewise, there’s the consummate skill with which Cook builds towards the climax of a song without a backing chord progression
to provide forward momentum, by scatting along with the riff, and then exploding in the upper register like fireworks on the
Fourth of July.
Cook admits, however, that having great feel and authenticity is not something you can practice.
“You see some guys making facial
expressions, and really getting into it,” he says. “I’ve never focused on that. Unlike rock or pop, the blues is music that is not so much for entertainment. The original
blues was used for entertainment, but it was written and sung by the artists as a means of expressing their feelings of oppression.
It was an outlet for people who had
music as their only outlet—and that’s the purest form of art.”

"Miss Blues'es Child"

like 65 year-old sharecroppers. Young Eli Cook manages that trick without trying, with a deep voice that sounds as old as the hills. On this blues album, a mix of his good originals and some traditional material and standards, he shows himself to be a performer of great talent...He has a very strong sense of arrangement, whether singing unaccompanied, as on Grinnin' In Your Face, or letting rip like Mississippi hill juke joint music on Fixin' To Die. Largely solo, a couple of tracks add a well-frailed banjo, making for what's essentially an excellent country blues experience, but the star of the show throughout is his voice. Natural and convincing, he has what it takes to be the best blues singer of his generation."
--Chris Nickson, All Music Guide - BILLBOARD.COM/ALLMUSIC

"Eli Cook"

Blues'es Child
by Jonathan Keefe
It's been well over a decade since a young white kid staked a claim as the next great blues prodigy—Kenny Wayne Shepherd never really transcended his obvious sources of influence, Jonny Lang turned into a gospel singer with decidedly mixed results, and Shannon Curfman never even recorded a second album. Enter 20-year-old Eli Cook, whose Miss Blues'es Child is among the most compelling debuts in recent memory. When so much of modern blues recalls the all-too-accurate Blueshammer sequence from Ghost World, it's refreshing to hear an artist like Cook, who doesn't bother with predictable 12-bar arrangements or rely on strident old-timey imagery. Instead, he attains a remarkable degree of authenticity from his fearless arrangements of Robert Johnson's "Terraplane Blues" and Son House's "Grinnin' In Your Face," both of which showcase can't-be-taught instincts in phrasing and an ear for killer material. Even more impressive is that his four original compositions are arguably the best cuts on the album. The spoken-word intro to he title track, which takes its title from a Langston Hughes poem, claims that it's a "remix," which barely does justice to its inspired rhythmic structure, while "Don't Ride My Pony" is built on some devilish banjo picking by Patrick McCrowell, making for a country-inflected barnburner. On these tracks, his willingness to toy with genre elevates Cook above all of the other supposed wunderkinds. Still, what's most striking about Cook—since the reverb in the album's production does, admittedly, hide a few sloppier passages in his guitar-work—is his otherworldly voice. A gritty, old-as-the-hills baritone, Cook's voice isn't pleasing in any conventional sense, but that's what makes it perfectly suited for blues. Singing about being destitute or outrunning death, Cook is never less than convincing. He's a kid just sick with talent and someone with the potential to reinvigorate a tired genre.

- Slant MagazineMiss


Eli Cook at Fellini's NO.9
Saturday, March 12 2005

If I weren't so concerned with the moral decline of society born of uncaring media and outrageous consumerism, I would put together an 18-word string of explicatives to descirbe and honor my first experience seeing 18-year old blues guitarist Eli Cook and his Red House Blues Band.
Their performance at Fellini's No.9 last Saturday night was quite literally one of the best--if not thebest--musical experience I've ever had in Charlottesville. Cook doesn't just play exceptionally well for someone his age, he plays exceptionally well for someone of any age, in any age. He's a prodigy, with enough soul in him now to match someone with years of experience, and the chops to flaunt it.
Except for a few stuttered guitar notes and what I believe was the sound of Cook dropping his A to D (called drop D, it allows the guitar to be played in a different fashion than standard tuning), Fellini's was quiet right up until Cook et al.began their litzkrief. Then suddenly the lights went low, and with a bang, the trio was off.
On the first tune, a shuffling blues instrumental, Cook began his guitar slinging slowly, following the main irff and speeding up his dancing fingers as well as their placement on the fretboard. Finding a bass player who could complement Cook's virtuosity must have been quite a feat, but the musician definitely got his man. As he teased the scales of the instrument, there was nothing more you could ask him to contribute to the trio's sound.
On the next tune, a more standard blues piece, Cook took on the vocal duties, and from the first syllable, all heads turned to the stage with looks of amazement. The 18-year-old's deep baritone, with its slightly slurred country nuances, is phenomenal, and its broken-in quality was completely unexpected in someone so young.
Hendrix would be a major touchstone when attempting a description of Cook's voice, but the latter's in more pleasing to the ear, and seemed to be more flexiable in its range. Cook emplyed every trick in the blues book for his solos, even edging on '80s shredding at certain points, but without losing the deep sad vibe he seems to know so well.
Chuck Berry's "Riding Along In My Automobile" was another highlight of the set, Cook laying down even more complex and colorful blues lead work between the vocal lines than the master. Cook pulled the song off, no question, his southern twang coming out in full force here. Later in the set, Jerry Lee Lewis's "Great Balls of Fire" made an outstanding transition from piano to Cook's guitar antics, keeping all the fire of the original.
Without swearing, it's had to get across the utter amazement that overcame me last Saturday night. You need to see this guy before time takes him away from us into the bright lights of the big time.--Mark Grabowski

Garden of Sheba
Wednesday, December 10 2003
Reprinted with permission of The C'Ville Review

Featuring fast fingered guitar and a powerful voice beyond
his years, Cook doesn't need any Robert Johnson-style pact
with the devil to take him to the top.

Ax slinger Eli Cook has skills. Looking a bit like Kenny Wayne Shepherd, this young man plays more like Stevie Ray Vaughan, a comparison that has more to do with ability than the fact Cook plays a careworn tobacco sunburst Stratocaster, scuffed bare in spots.
Backed by the super tight father-and-son rhythm section of bassist Jeff Lauderback and drummer Jeff Jr., Cook tore through two sets touching on modern blues signposts, from more traditional roadhouse fare and rhythm and blues to blues-inspired rock and roll of the '50s and '60s. Every bit of a surprise, Cook's voice is octaves lower than you'd expect, with a Delta-affected drawl a la ZZ Top's "La Grange." Breaking in Garden of Sheba for what should be a regular Tuesday night gig, Cook and company showed off their instrumental prowess and range, tackling songs by legends like Elvis, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters and Jimi Hendrix.
Though short on years, Cook is not lacking in stage presence, at one point quipping that oldsters in the audience would be familiar with the next number and then launching into Jerry Lee Lewis' classic "Great Balls of Fire." The rendition was made all the better when Cook showily tossed the guitar over his head and behind his neck, continuing to play without missing a beat. Later, he silkly asked, "You said it was raining when you came in tonight?" before playing Stevie Ray Vaughan's touching "The Sky is Crying," showing that this up-and-comer has the moves to go where the music takes him.--Matthew Hirst

BRAVING THE BLUES Published Jan. 9, 2003
NelsonCounty teenager takes center stage
By Theresa Boyes/Lynchburg News & Advance

Off stage, Eli Cook is reserved--almost shy--but on stage, the blues-singing teenager exhibits a confidence beyond his 16 years, strumming his guitar, tapping his foot and belting out tunes in a voice as deep as a Mississippi swamp.

Bob Taylor, who introduced Cook recently at Rapunzel's Coffee and Books in Lovingston, described the first time he met the lanky, blond teenager: "He sat down and commenced to play some of the finest blues music I've heard in a long time." Surrounded by books, the air scented with fragrant candles and the faint smell of cappuccino, Cook entertained the crowd with a three-song set that included two tunes made popular by Elvis Presley, That's All Right and Blue Christmas.

Cook counts old blues masters Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson among his musical influences, but doesn't write his own songs. "There's enough good stuff out there already," he said.

A highschool junior, Cook lives in Faber (on the Nelson-Albemarle county line) with his parents, Raymond and Neva Cook. "My parents have a very large record collection, a lot of blues, folk and what not," he said. "I just picked it up." When he was 14, he heard a blues song by Mississippi John Hurt on the radio. According to his mother, it was one his older sister, Sabra, used to play on her guitar when he was a baby.
"Six months later, he was playing," she said. "He didn't play the guuitar; the guitar sang as soon as he touched it."
Since then, he's played mostly in Nelson County at church revivals, gospel sings, rescue squad dinners and at Rapunzel's, where he was the first one to play when the coffeehouse opened in the winter of 2002.
When Cook graduates from highschool in 2004, he plans to attend college and study art. "I realize that there's quite a large number of people that play music," he said. "I don't have any visions of grandeur." But that doesn't mean he will put a halt to his musical ventures.
"I'd definitely like to keep playing as much as possible," he said. "I just like playing in front of people." --Theresa Boyd
Watch a clip of Eli Cook performing live at the Paramount Theater, Charlottesville, VA 2007
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MIss Blues'es Child (2005)
Valley Entertainment, Sledghammer Blues (2007
Miss Blues'es Child is the first solo/acoustic recording of Eli Cook. Recorded live and unedited in the studio, it contains four original blues-based tunes. Don't Ride My Pony is a rollicking musical joyride that leaves Ole Man Death in the dust, featuring sideman Patrick McCrowel on banjo. Miss Blues'es Child borrows its title from the poem by the renowned poet of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes. The Highway Song, and Trick Bag are both classic contemplative blues compositions in which the guitar speaks with as much eloquence as the singer.
"Eli Cook is a twenty-year-old blues guitar wizard with genuine soul. His first acoustic recording consists of old and new songs played in the raw, live-sounding arrangements with little more than Cook's acoustic guitar and voice, plus banjo accompaniment by the stalwart Patrick McCrowell. Cook's playing is a joy, and his original songs fit smoothly with his thoughtful covers of Robert Johnson, Son House, traditional songs and the like...Cook's raucous take on Fixin' To Die shows his mastery of incessant, scratchy, electricity. By contrast, the satisfying, seven-minute-long Trick Bag, also an original, demonstrates his sensiitivity to the importance of empty space, something young performers don't usually develop so early in their careers...Cook's fine guitar work and top-notch material make this CD a very worthwhile listen. Eli Cook is a talent to reckon with."--Jon Sobel, pub. May 11, 2007 at blogcritics http://blogcritics.org/archinves/2007/05/11/20749.php
Available from Valley Entertainment

ElectricHolyFireWater (2007)
Eli Cook - Guitars and Vocals
Eric Yates - Bass
Jordan Marchini - Drums

More than a year in the making,
ElectricHolyFireWater offers a unique blend of relentless, bass-heavy blues metal. Eli Cook's Delta-blues vocals and lyrical imagery are served with punishing riff-rock and complex arrangements. Bassist Eric Yates and drummer Jordan Marchini give the high-energy performance that earn them the brand of the genuine power-trio.
Available at cdbaby

Moonshine Mojo (2004)
Moonshine Mojo is the debut recording of Eli Cook and The Red House Blues Band. Recorded live in the studio, the tracks on this album feature radical renditions of classic blues hits like Muddy Water's Mannish Boy, Hooker's Huckle Up, and Albert King's Crosscut Saw, as well as virtuoso guitar performances of Hendrix's Little Wing, and the little-known Jerry Reed two-step instrumental Kicky, previously recorded only by Chet Atkins. This album also features an original guitar compositon by Eli Cook, Easy Boogie.
Available at www.cdbaby.com



Charlottesville, Virginia's best kept secret, Eli Cook, is about to leave home with his debut release of Miss Blues'es Child on Valley Entertainment. Paying homage to traditional delta blues and heroes such as Mississippi John Hurt and Robert Johnson, the new disc features little more than Cook's impressive guitar playing and gritty vocals. Listeners will take a double take at the CD cover when they hit the play button. The blues just aren't played like this anymore.

"I avoided a lot of twelve bar blues and went straight for the old-school, one-chord stuff, says Cook. "That's actually some of my favorite stuff, the eerie dark tunes by R.L. Burnside and Fred McDowell." Big names to be throwing around for a twenty year old from Charlottesville, Virginia.

Cook mixes up his own material with the old, down in the Delta-blues tracks. The title track sounds as if it could be a recently discovered venerable tune from a long ago era, but with a slightly updated quality. However, he's not just playing the same licks as his mentors, but adding his signature sound and style to a nearly lost art of the blues.

In addition to playing the dive bars and church revivals in his home area, Cook has graduated to opening for B.B. King, Shemekia Copeland, Johnny Winter, and has performed at the Ntelos Pavillion, The Birchmere, and at The Kennedy Center. He was featured in the September 2007 issue of Guitar Player Magazine. His own club shows are usually sold out as word of mouth continues to spread for this young blues prodigy.