In the 1980s St. Louis native Scott Cooper spent as much time as possible on the Current River.
“What impressed me was how clean it was, and it wasn’t a rapid river,” Cooper said. “It was perfect for me and my buddies for camping and floating.”
Also popular were the Jacks Fork and Big Piney rivers.
Now as a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter in the San Francisco Bay area he has taken those memories and written “Akers Ferry,” a song about the Current River and Akers Ferry.
The song is on his new CD, "Jack of All Trades," titled because he plays multiple instruments in various bands in California, including guitar, mandolin and upright bass.
“My previous CD, "A Leg Trick", reached No. 5 on Relix magazine's radio charts last year despite the fact that I'm not signed to any record label,” Cooper said.
Cooper said he enjoys writing a lot of his own music. It is important to use past experiences and memories in those songs.
That’s where the Current River comes in.
"Akers Ferry is loosely based on the ferry that takes cars across the Current River,” Cooper said. “It's a uniquely Ozark phenomenon and the further I live away from there, the more I see its uniqueness.”
Cooper said he took creative liberty with the song.
For instance the ferry is not on Route 9, but it rhymed with "sign" more than Route K. He also created the practice of rattling your keys to thank the ferry driver, and at the end of the song, the locals gather to rattle their keys in unison in appreciation of the ferry driver's retirement.
“Also the ferry is on the Current River but I sing the Jacks Fork because it's a more colorful and singable line.” Cooper said.
Cooper began his music career as a drummer backing blues legends such as Johnny Shines and Luther Tucker, as well as regional artists Robert Lowery and Lady Bo (Bo Diddley's lead guitarist). Then he played in a band with Ben Ellman (later with Galactic) and Luca Fredericksen (later with Wolfman Washington). After that, he played in a blues band with Rusty Zinn and Marc Carino, later of the Fabulous Thunderbirds. In the 90s, he worked with a popular jam band called Deep Blue Sea, which allowed him to write original material. From there he joined Relix Records and the jam band Stackabones, where he eventually moved from behind the drums to playing bass, and contributing original material.
He has since recorded three CDs with Stackabones, on which he plays drums, bass, guitar and keyboards.
Cooper also teaches guitar at UC-Santa Cruz, and sells djembes for Drumskull Drums.
His career includes work as music journalist for the NY Times syndicate and LA Times syndicate, blues deejay at KUSP, new age deejay at KLRS, Program Manager at KSCO and Editor for OnRadio, supplying CD reviews, music news and artist interviews to radio station web sites.
Cooper’s new CD is now available for download at http://scottcooperjams.bandcamp.com/album/jack-of-all-trades. It is scheduled to be available on iTunes later this month. Hard copies of the CD are available by contacting Cooper directly at Cooper@volumemedia.com It will also be available on www.cdbaby.com.