What do you get when you put hippies, hip-hoppers, and a plethora of indies in one room?
Brushing with alternative and acoustic folk and breaking whole heart-idly in with hip-hop notions of bass and rhythmic soul, Clarence Greenwood under the moniker Citizen Cope is hailing sweet praise from all over. His mumbled, soft vocals are just a pleasant addition to the persistent passion that is set to this rather ingenious use of old school hip-hop and folk.
Collaboratively, Greenwood has managed to mix in just the right amounts of each genre to create a soothing mess of kick-drums, piano solos, and jazz incorporated guitar riffs.
Cope (as fans also refer to him) is a local of Washington, DC. Maybe that's where he gathers some of his political lyrics from? He now resides in Brooklyn, NY, which suggests that Greenwood's background influenced his lyrics.
Within such grassroots musings, Cope gives the utmost respect to all revolving genres, and fans alike.
Clarence seems to have hat a bit of a rough patch over the years. He dropped his first record with Capitol Records (late '90s) before his album was finished. He then bounced over to DreamWorks and finally completed the first album, Citizen Cope (2002). It seems Clarence might be better suited to revel on his own, after arguably not succeeding well with RCA and Arista Records. Having had his last recorded album, Every Waking Moment out in 2006, he finally has decided to record on his own. Rainwater Recordings has put forth The Rainwater LP, which we are all certainly ripe and ready to hear!
To follow this awaited release, Cope and his full band are set to tour the country (February-April) to celebrate the The Rainwater LP, set to drop March 2nd, 2010.
Something about Citizen Cope can certainly be described as a sexy ambiance, much like the venues' to which he has chosen along this tour — Intimate and personal. Would Cope fans have him any other way?
Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at the Paradise had all been sold-out, finding tickets, even on classified websites, was a daunting task. I was thrown off a bit, not having known he was such a commodity in the area. Seeking to find out exactly what all this fuss was about, I just had to experience it for myself.
Cope came onstage armed with an acoustic Martin Co. guitar, and a four-man fleet of musicians. More than ready to make sure this late-night set, on a sweaty Saturday, would not be forgotten. He succeeded.
Playing three full hours that spanned all four albums, Cope & Band certainly did not avoid any one's request or leave any ticket holder wanting to do anything other than purchase The Rainwater on their way out the door. My favorite account of the night would be the band's old-school style, which is full of funk.
"Let The Drummer Kick" (Citizen Cope) set the crowd off right, with chilling rhythms and an intimate piano solo over a repetitive chorus line, this is one of Cope's more recognized songs. Clarence did not dance much, but he didn't really need to. His melodic mumbles and careless guitar chords backed the band just perfectly.
He doused us with songs from the new LP, "Healing Hands" was one of them. Upbeat and soulful this song reminds us why in an article from The Washington Post in 2002, Clarence Greenwood was hailed as "the city's most soulful export since Marvin Gaye."
"Hurricane Waters", The Clarence Greenwood Recordings (2004), kept feet tapping, and head's nodding, as the crowd seemed to sway in unison. Some sort of underlying attitude of peace is felt amongst his songs, the lyrics of this song particularly.
Unsuspectingly a cover came about, 2/3rds of the way into the show, as he tuned his worn Martin down and announced "Here's one from Neil Young".
Yep, he did, he covered Neil Young's "Out On The Weekend". Much to my surprise, and I believe the rest of the room, he pulled it off relatively well.
Citizen Cope undertook one hell of an encore as they split between the band and straight, solo-acoustic in a five song set. "Salvation" was a great success. With a silent lull of reform, the fans stood at attention and in total respect. It seemed when he got down to it, we could all see Clarence truly shine as the brave talent emits from his presence.
Closing up the set, he played "D'Artagnan's Theme", and "Holding On", keeping everyone guessing [and screaming], if he was ever going to play the most praised "Sideways", which would turn the room just about diagonal, with impatience and emotion. The band joined in mid-way through "Sideways", leaving everyone totally impressed and fulfilled.
Citizen Cope proved to be a success, and a modest asset to a modern blend of Bob Marley, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye. Not an easy undertaking by any means.
You can check for downloads of The Rainwater LP, and tour information at his official website.