Ray Cooper returns to the UK in July for a short tour in support of his most recent album Land Of Heroes.
Ray Cooper is an acoustic singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, he accompanies his songs with a cello, mandolin, guitar and piano, each song comes with a story, and Ray has a lot of stories. Ray was nominated in the male artist of the year category in the 2021 Fatea magazine awards.
Ray Cooper started to play in bands when he was 16. After Art College in Brighton, he joined punk band Amazorblades, moved to London and began to work with other groups and genres. By the time he joined the 3 Mustaphas 3 in 1982, he was already an experienced session musician and had worked with a number of producers: Steve Lillywhite, Martin Rushent, Phil Chevron, Joe Jackson, Pete Bellotte, Aki Dean, and Edwin Starr. He had been moving between rock, punk, pop and world music, and working as a singer, bass guitar player and cellist, before he finally hooked up with Oysterband and began a long exploration into his own roots.
After moving to Sweden in the year 2000, Cooper continued playing with Oysterband, eventually touring in 27 countries and recording 19 albums. In 2012 they won 3 awards from BBC Radio 2’s Folk Awards for best group, best album and best traditional track , appeared on the Later with Jools Holland show and were dubbed by FROOTS magazine as one of the 3 ‘Icons of Folk’. Despite their success, Cooper took the decision to leave the band and go solo in 2013. He has since carved out a successful solo career, recording four solo albums and has toured extensively in Britain, Northern Europe and Canada.
Stories are at the centre of Ray’s work and his fourth album Land Of Heroes released in April 2021 follows the question who today’s heroes are. He finds them in all walks of life – from journalists to whistleblowers, from hospital nurses, to a prince and a close friend who died. The album was written and recorded within five months during the summer of 2020 in a small wooden cabin close to the forest in Sweden after all Ray’s touring was cancelled due to the pandemic. The album uses a haunting soundscape of acoustic instruments all played by himself. The only additions were some backing vocals from the sadly now late British singer-songwriter Rowan Godel through the internet. The title Land Of Heroes is taken from the Finnish Kalevala epic’s subtitle and there is a curious Finnish thread running through the album; the kantele, a kind of Finnish harp, is present in the background of many tracks, and the instrumental ‘Ilmarinen’s Ride’ is named after one of the brave but rather unlucky heroes of the Kalevala.
Artist’s website: www.raycooper.org
‘The Unknown Soldier Has A Name’ – live:
JULY LAND OF HEROES TOUR-
Friday 8th July- Rhythm Tree Festival, 3 Gates Farm, Shalfleet, Calbourne, Isle of Wight, on stage 6pm Tickets- https://www.rhythmtree.co.uk/tickets
Saturday 9th July- Holybourne theatre, London Road, Holybourne, Alton, GU34 4EL, £12.50, 7.30 pm. Tickets- https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/ticketshop/iframe/event.php?eventhash=e-xeakqk&target=
Sunday 10th– Ely Folk Festival, Stuntney estate, Soham Road, Ely, Box office- 01284-758000. On stage 2.45 pm. Tickets- https://elyfolkfestival.co.uk/tickets/
Tuesday 12th July- Bretforton Fleece Inn, The Cross, Bretforton, Worcestershire, 01386-831173 £12. 8pm. Tickets- https://www.tickettailor.com/events/fleeceinngrasroots/642190
Wednesday 13th July- Assembly Rooms, Broad Street, Presteigne, Powys, Wales, LD8 2AD. 01544-267163 £10 + £1 booking fee. 8pm. Tickets- https://www.wegottickets.com/event/539493
Thursday 14th July- Marlborough Town Hall, High Street, Marlborough, SN8 1AA, £17. 8pm. Tickets- https://www.marlboroughfolk-roots.co.uk/buy-tickets/
Friday 15th July- Netley Chapel Sessions, St Edwards Church hall, Grange Road, SO31 5FF, Netley Abbey, £12. 7.30 pm. Tickets- https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ray-cooper-with-support-from-jim-chorley-tickets-315731711047?aff=erelpanelorg
Read Su O’Brien’s review of Land Of Heroes here.