Henry Cooper
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Henry Cooper

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"Henry Cooper at Trails End"

by Don Campbell

Contrary to old platitudes, you can go home again.

Bluesman Henry Cooper spent his formative years in Eugene on the harmonica and slide guitar during the time Robert Cray and Curtis Salgado's Nighthawks were regional sensations.

He blistered his fingers and lips, and audience ears, plying roots-rocker chops with the Explorers and the Falcons before relocating to Portland where he joined drummer Boyd Small and bassist Andy Strange in the Terraplanes. That unit went on to provide backing duties for the mesmerizing Screamin' Jay Hawkins.
In 1990, Duffy Bishop, then a budding young Seattle chanteuse, caught wind of Cooper's talents and hired him for her band, a spot he held for seven years.

In '97 Cooper went solo. He is releasing his fourth album, "The Gin Years," and has come back to Oregon. From his new digs in Otis, on the Oregon coast, Cooper says, "Seattle doesn't have the cool blues scene that Portland does." And besides, he offers, "I've been away so long, no one is sick of me yet."

And won't likely be. The 11-song album is a mix of original roadhouse slide guitar ("Unsteady"), roots rockers ("Foxette" and "Blue Sky"), surf ("Kape Kiwanda"), country ("Second Time"), and the kind of greasy slow blues that makes your joints hurt ("Death Jacket Blues").

Cooper is a well-schooled and inspired instrumentalist and songwriter. His voice, the least muscular tool in his arsenal, is nonetheless strong enough and stylized enough to carry the songs.

"Everybody says this, but it's the best record I've done," says Cooper. And the perfect way to come back home. - The Oregonian 01/23/2008

"The Gin Years / Self-produced"

by Greg Johnson

It has been way too many years since Henry Cooper last put out a CD. that was back in 2001, with the live album, "Automatic Trouble." You just knew that Henry had to have something brewing within his creative mind over the ensuing years. It brings to mind John Lee Hooker singing about overhearing his parents talking about him while lying in bed one night, "It's inside him and it needs to come out. Let that boy boogie!" Thankfully, Henry is providing new music once again with the release of "The Gin Years." The long wait is over. And, this boy is boogie-ing indeed!

Without question, Henry has long been regarded as one of the Northwest's premier guitar players. Whether it is working in a band like The Terraplanes or the Duffy Bishop Band, backing Screamin' Jay Hawkins or leading his own outfit, Henry has always entertained us. You can hear influences of Albert Collins, Muddy Waters or Elmore James, but listening to Henry you know that you're hearing somebody unique. Someone who has established his own sound. A sound that captivates with its bluesy grooves and slides. A sound that is enhanced with musicians who have worked with Henry for a while and know they're part of that special creation. You couldn't ask for a group of guys to make that come across better than bassist Eric Bryson, drummer Dave Jette and Ed Vance on the keys.

"The Gin Years" explodes from the get-go. Taking the listerner on a musical journey that travels through Elmore James-like slide (a personal reading of the classic "Steady Rollin' Man" theme called "Unsteady"), Memphis Soul (a very Booker T. sounding "Foxette"), a touch of surf ("Kape Kiwanda"), a little Rockabilly ("Blue Sky"), and a whole smorgasbord of flavors thrown in just for good measure. It all goes to show that Henry cooper is quite adept of moving about in any type of guitar rhythm he feels like approaching. But, there is never any question that the master behind all of this sound is Henry Cooper. Truly a unique and identifiable artist. Now if we could just get him to release more music, more often. - Cascade Blues Assoc. BluesNotes

"Bluesletter December 1997"

Henry Cooper “The Gin Years”
By Dennis Dudley “Blues Boss”

As many of you know, Henry Cooper left town for his home state of Oregon. But, he left us a nice little present to enjoy – The Gin Years. This is Henry’s first recording in over 7 years and it doesn’t disappoint. Plenty of tried and ‘tried and true’ slide guitar, and a whole lot more, including a great tune (Upriver Blues) featuring Ed Vance on vocals. There is a wonderful bonus instrumental track at the end also featuring Mr. Vance on piano. But, make no mistake, this is Henry Cooper as we know him. Great slide guitar, smooth vocals (the ‘Talking Troubador’ for sure) and a strong rhythm (Dave Jette on drums and Eric Bryson on bass). Some nice twists, too, like a little country (Second Time), a surf tune (Kape Kiwanda), and a great little tune (Road’s End) featuring Henry on some great harp. Enjoy, it was worth the wait!

- Washington Blues Society


The Gin Years , Henry Cooper (2007)
Automatic Trouble, Henry Cooper . . . Live (HAR/2001)
Slide Man - Henry Cooper/Burnside Records (1999)
Play Til it Hurts - Jaime Sheets/Two Sheets, Inc. (1998)
Baby Please - Henry Cooper/High Action Records (1997)
Waterfront Blues 1996 - Burnside Records/Burnside Records (1996)
Back to the Bone - The Duffy Bishop Band/Burnside Records (1996)
Bottled Oddities - The Duffy Bishop Band/Burnside Records (1994)



A native Oregonian, Henry Cooper spent his formative years mastering the harmonica and rubbing elbows with the likes of Curtis Salgado and Robert Cray during their heyday in the Emerald City of the South, Eugene, Oregon. A couple of his first influences included Paul Butterfield and Big Walter Horton. The guitar soon became Henry’s main instrument when Blues greats such as Elmore James, Muddy Waters and Albert Collins stole his attention. He started playing country music and it turned into the blues with a guitar style that is a hybrid between picking and sliding where you can hear a mix of Hawaiian, country and blues in his playing. Henry has put a lot of work into creating his own unique sound and it shows.

Henry has been a working musician from the age of 19. Most notably, he backed up Screamin’ Jay Hawkins for a time and also worked with The Duffy Bishop Band for many years. Other bands include The Disruptors, The Terraplanes and Los Explorers. For the last seven years Henry has been fronting his own band, The Henry Cooper Band during which time he created four CDs: Baby Please, Slide Man, Automatic Trouble-Live at the EMP, and his most recent CD, “The Gin Years.” The great musicians in his band are Ed Vance, Hammond B3, Dave Jette, drums and Eric Bryson, bass.

“What sets Cooper’s style apart is his keen focus on tone and his ability to move tastefully between fingerpick and slide within a phrase. The sound range from long, ringing sheets of notes to a more subtle effect where metal on strings is more felt than heard.” Blues Revue

“Henry Cooper knows how to wrap his blues guitar around a vocal.” Seattle Times

“Whether playing lap steel, acoustic or electric guitar, Henry Cooper’s chops are extraordinary.” Southland Blues Magazine, San Diego, CA