Saturday, November 15, 2003

DANA "Short Order" COOKE and His Band Joe
on the same program with
MIKE MEYER and the Blue Streak

Dana "Short Order" Cooke
and His Band Joe

DANA "Short Order" COOKE ana Cooke is a songwriter, singer, and sometimes buffoon who lives near Syracuse. His droll wit is reflected in his songs, and proved to be very entertaining to our Hard Luck audience tonight.

e writes gently humorous, quirky songs about stuff in his life that somehow speaks to stuff in your life. He gives you a lot to relate to, like your fear that you're going bald, or your tendency to swear at other drivers, or your secret desire to abandon your loved ones and go live somewhere in the woods.

eople come up to him after his shows and say "Your songs are good." "Your songs are funny." or "That one song made me cry." — Making people laugh until they pee, then just when they get back from the john, making them bawl out loud. That's a satisfying day at the office for Dana!

ana is a songwriter in the mold of Roger Miller, the Roches, and especially Loudon Wainwright III. Nothing is more important than the absurd and ironic. His subject matter is drawn from unlikely but familiar sources: shiftless co-workers, three-legged dogs, happy fantasies of upcoming divorces, and kids who used to puke on the midway rides. Some of his songs are outright funny, but the best of them are more aptly described as wry.

e began writing songs some 20 years ago. They suddenly started to get better, and he got pushed up on stage. Since then, he's played dozens of venues, cut three albums plus tracks that appear on one of the Big Mike Christmas albums and on a nationally distributed anthology of baseball songs.

HIS BAND JOE ana performed tonight with a short version of His Band Joe, which is wicked-good clawhammer banjoist, guitarist and dove-toned vocalist Joe Cleveland. The addition of His Band Joe imparts a bluegrass/old-timey shading to the music, lending it an utterly false patina of timelessness and import. Joe showed off his strum stick and gave us a solo ballad in the key of B.

e were pleased to have Dana on our Hard Luck Café stage, playing tunes off his brand new 14-song album Snowball’s Chance, and transporting us to that dizzying realm between amusement and melancholia, from which the only known escape was a trip back to the refreshment counter for a second slice of pie.

thers have said this:

  • "You have to like Dana Cooke's sense of humor. It's a cheekiness that sets him apart from other songwriters."
      — Syracuse Post-Standard

  • "Unlike many of today's singer-songwriters, Cooke possesses a healthy sense of humor — one that he's willing to point at his own contradictory self ... a gifted composer, offering catchy melodies that work in perfect sync with his insightful lyrics ... an absolute knockout."
      — Syracuse New Times
  • Link to Dana's web site         Listen to MP3 clips:    

    and on the same program

    Big Mike and the Blue Streak

    Big Mike and the Blue Streak uitarist "Big Mike" Meyer and harmonica player Rob "Blue Streak" Bellassai have played together for several years on Long Island; they specialize in acoustic blues in the Delta, Piedmont, jug band and ragtime styles. Their blues provided us with a perfect complement to Dana Cooke's ditties, an exciting way to end our evening.

    ike and Rob have performed at many venues on Long Island, including festivals, coffee houses, libraries and book stores. They have been an annually featured act at the Cedar Beach and the Riverhead Blues Festivals and have had many radio interviews on Long Island Stony Brook University's radio station WUSB. Mike and Rob have opened for such local greats as Kerry Kearney, Ken "The Rocket" Korb and Little Toby Walker.

    s Mike sings and fingerpicks his guitar, Rob accompanies him on harmonica along with hoots and barks. That's right — barks! Together Mike and Rob provide back home, soul stirring acoustic, traditional and contemporary blues.

    Our open mike tonight featured performances by:

  • Ed Wernersbach
  • Larry Moser
  • Tom Wilson
  • Barry Be
  • Jesse
  • Alan Michaelson
  • Bob Mist
  • Dave Gavin (One for the Road)
  • John Bechhoff
        ... and
  • Little Toby Walker
  • If you weren't here tonight, you missed yet another of the very best programs of the year ...