CopE & Future Vintage at Skipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa, 01.11.14

[This review just resurfaced. It was written before I was drafted into MusicFestNews and even before I began Tie Your Shoes Reviews. Feature image above is from 12.11.13 by Jeffrey Moellering /]

So this was the best CopE show I’ve ever…

“HOLD IT RIGHT THERE, HOPKINS. That’s what you said when CopE opened for Kung Fu in September. And then you said it again about their Bear Creek set. And you said it AGAIN when they played at Skipper’s Smokehouse with Savi Fernandez at the end of November. This is getting to be like the little boy who cried CopE!”

Well, too darn bad. I meant it every time, and I mean it now. I am just so impressed that the CopE boys continually elevate their game. This was a great night (Saturday, January 11, 2014). Let’s start at the beginning.

Future Vintage at Skipper’s 01.11.14

CopE and Skipper’s asked Future Vintage to open the show. I have written often about FV, who cover the Herbie Hancock-to-jamtronica gamut with style and ease. This was a great opportunity for them, and they did not waste it. Matt Giancola (keyboards and synthesizers), Trevor McDannel (bass) and Dean Rocco (drums) played a great set of originals that got people dancing early. They deliver a real feel-good sound. I was there in the ’70s to see Herbie, Chick, George Duke and the others, and these boys do it right. Dennis Stadelman, guitar player for CopE, and Juanjamon on sax joined them for a great sit-in.

And then it was CopE time. It had been raining all day but had finally quit.  Dennis said he wanted to put on a great show for everyone who braved the rain. He wasn’t kidding. They came out swinging and simply knocked it out of the park. They segued effortlessly from genre to genre, rock to blues to reggae to bluegrass and back again. Juanjamon is a great keyboards player, but his tenor saxophone work has become even more impressive. And the sax offers an interesting break in a number of songs where you might not expect it.

CopE at Bear Creek 2013

Michael Garrie is still insane. I realized toward the end of the show that Rocco, the Future Vintage drummer and a great performer himself, had aligned himself to the side of the stage so he could watch Garrie’s propulsive style. And you need to pay attention to bassist Kenny Stadelman to realize the great depth he adds to the sound  I can tolerate bass and drum solos, but for me the proof is in the pudding: what do these guys do underneath the jam? And that is exactly where Kenny and Garrie excel  And you know watching them that they LOVE it!

Which leaves us with Dennis Stadelman. He shares vocals with Kenny and Juanjamon, and his superb guitar work and unbridled enthusiasm (if you have been near the stage, I know he’s given you THAT smile) send the Cope show over the top. I did wonder as they were covering “Strange Brew” how many youngsters recognized the Cream tune. This show ended with a half-hour rendition of “Shake Anything > Shakedown Street > Shake Anything” which blew out all the gaskets.

Except that WASN’T the end! Christie Lenée was in the house! Lenée is a great singer and a monstrous guitar player (in my son’s class in high school!). My brain fails to recall the tune they played for the encore, but it was a Dennis-Christie guitar rave-up of the first magnitude! Spectacular.

So it was my favorite CopE show ever… until the next one! AURA, anybody? And you can see CopE AND Future Vintage at Orange Blossom Jam in May! I certainly will!

Did I use enough exclamation marks?!? Too darn bad.

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