Kenneth Paul Cooper has never been one to put blinders on and keep moving forward. He’s all about looking around to see the possible opportunities that surround us all.
“It’s always important to watch out for open windows you can climb in, rather than spending your life going around banging on doors that are locked,” he says, smiling, obviously at peace with the metaphorical windows he’s been climbing through.
Cooper was, until last year, managing the Campbell River Indian Band’s affairs as an administrator.
Now he’s retired – at least from that particular career – and making his way through life as a musician.
For Cooper, “retiring” meant having the opportunity to listen to his intuition – which was telling him to get back to the journey he started when he was just a 15-year-old boy with a guitar.
“It gave me the opportunity to move back into the spiritual, sort of ‘right-brain’ area of my life,” he says, “which is expressing myself through art and music. It’s a really wonderful opportunity for me to do something that I sort of had to put aside – and I was happy to do that, in one sense – but I just never really closed the lid on it, so now it’s able to bear some fruit.”
That process will see Cooper take the Rivercity Stage Aug. 12 opening for long-time touring musician John Gogo and up-and-coming Toronto-based “Folk Rock” band Blue Sky Miners, before he heads off to England for a few shows he’s got booked in London.
“I think folks in Campbell River are really going to enjoy this show,” Cooper says. “John has a lot to offer. He’s an excellent storyteller, and he uses historical references to inform and remind people of things. How he weaves a tale together for people is really something.”
And then there’s the Blue Sky Miners, a band just coming onto the music scene, who happen to be fronted by Gogo’s daughter, Jena.
“They are bringing with them that resurgence of interest in Roots music that we’re seeing right now, and they’re writing their own stuff, and they’re doing it all in a very contemporary fashion. They’re going to be really special for people to experience, I think.”
And then there’s Cooper.
“My songs tend to be a bit more reflective and introspective, and I always hope to touch a chord in the audience,” he says, but not in a nostalgic or longing, “what could have been?” kind of way. “I’m not melancholy – I’m celebratory,” he says.
Cooper says they intentionally mixed three different styles, ages and experience levels of musicians into the show to celebrate both the diversity and connection between people at the same time. The combination of the old soul who doesn’t take himself too seriously, playing music in his retirement because it’s something he’s always wanted to do, the young band trying to break out and the experienced touring storytelling musician will hopefully make it something special to see.
“We wanted it to be a very complementary show,” he says. “It will weave a fabric.”
He’s also excited about the venue.
“Rivercity Stage is a fantastic venue for live music,” he says. “I’ve done two shows there, now. It’s a great place, and the group of people who run it – the River City Players – are just fantastic people. They’re so helpful, supportive and encouraging. They’re just great Campbell River people.”
Tickets for the show at $10, either in advance at Impressions Gallery on Shoppers Row or at the door. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with Cooper taking the stage at 7 to start the show.
For more information on Cooper, head over to his website at kennethpaulcooper.com. The Blue Sky Miners can be found on Facebook, YouTube, or at blueskyminers.ca and John Gogo can be found at johngogo.com.