Dana Cooper-The Conjurer
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Dana Cooper, (615) 438-3262

Booking-Terri Stewart, terri@stewartmgmt.com

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The Conjurer

The Conjurer was the beginning of a long friendship with wunderkind Thomm Jutz. Together we have completed four CD projects to date and this was the first. An amazing songwriter in his own right, Thomm is also a terrific singer and multi-instrumentalist, and one heck of an engineer and producer. We are both meticulous at pre-production and spent quite a bit of time choosing songs and players.

This was also my first time working with Pledge Music and I had my hands full figuring out how to effectively run the campaign and reach my financial goal. Thomm was flexible and generous enough to suggest we begin recording before I even acquired my budget.

Again, the musicians who contributed their gifts were just amazing. Kim Carnes, my co-writer on "Enough" came in to lend her soulful voice, as did force of nature Ann McCrary. The much in demand Fats Kaplin played mandolin, steel guitar, and violin. Luminary bluegrass musicians Deanie Richardson and Jeremy Abshire created a rocking fiddle section on "Cold Wind and Bitter Fiddles." The extraordinary Kirby Shelstad played tabla. Dave Roe on bass and Pat McInerney on drums provided an in the pocket rhythm section. And Thomm Jutz played everything from electric guitar to Glockenspiel.

What a fantastic start to a long working relationship with one of Nashville's finest musicians and producers. I always look forward to working with Thomm Jutz. Each time it's different but always comfortable and rewarding musically.

Dana Cooper-Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
Dave Roe-Bass
Pat McInerney-Drums, Percussion
Thomm Jutz-Electric Guitar, Dobro, Keyboard, Bass
Fats Kaplin-Pedal Steel, Fiddle, Mandolin
Deanie Richardson and Jeremy Abshire-Fiddle
Kirby Shelstad-Tabla
Kim Carnes, Peter Cronin, Ann McCrary-Vocals

Produced-Thomm Jutz, Dana Cooper
Recorded and Mixed-Thomm Jutz
Recorded at-TJ Tunes, Nashville, Tennessee, March/October, 2009
Mastered-Yes Master by Alex McCullough

Photography, Design, Art Work- Jeff Thorneycroft

Order of Songs on The Conjurer:

1-Enough(4:00)(Featured Track)

Dana Cooper, Kim Carnes
Dog Eared Music-Bluewater Music / SESAC /
Gildagirl Music / Warner-Tamerlane / BMI
Administered by:
Bluewater Music / Warner-Tamerlane

My father, George, was the hardest working man I've ever known. The opening line of "Enough" is a direct reference to dad. I carried that line along with the opening guitar chords with me for a few months. Kim Carnes and I scheduled a writing appointment and I played her the first couple of lines. We began talking about the old - fashioned notion of hard work bringing just rewards and before we knew it we had finished "Enough."

Thomm Jutz and I kept the production simple playing live with a rhythm section. Kim Carnes and I had fun with the background vocal arrangement.

2-Leave A Little Mark (3:40)(Featured Track)

Songwriter:Dana Cooper
Publishing & PRO:
Bluewater Music / Dog Eared Music / SESAC
Administered by:Bluewater Music

I began writing "Leave a Little Mark" while participating in the Listening Room Songwriting Retreat on Samso Island in Denmark. About twenty of us songwriters spent a week together co-writing during the day, then performing our newly written songs for the locals each night. There were deep friendships forged that week and an overflow of inspiration. On our last night together we all gathered on the patio of the Brundby Rock Hotel where we were staying. There was a meteor shower that evening and someone pointed at one of the burning stars as it streaked across the dark sky. At that moment the first line of the song came to me.

Next morning in my attic room, with the wind blowing through from the Baltic Sea, I awoke with a melody and grabbed my guitar. Just as I finished capturing a snatch of music and some mumbled lyrics on my digital recorder I heard everyone gathering for the bus three stories below. I was to remain one more day and night at the historic old hotel before my ferry arrived next day. Everybody else was about to board the bus. I stuck my head out the window and hollered out my goodbyes but no one could locate where my voice was coming from. I watched as they all looked around and then climbed aboard. The bus dwindled down the road and I was left with a song to finish.

"Leave a Little Mark" followed me around Denmark, then Sweden, and eventually back to the US. I wrote a verse in each country and finally completed it on a return trip to Sweden a few weeks later. My father was near the end of his life during this time and I was concerned that I may not make it back to his side in time to say goodbye. But dad and I were fortunate to have some months together before his passing.

When it came time to record this song, my producer and cohort Thomm Jutz suggested we play it as a four piece band. As simple as the arrangement is I feel it has a power much larger than the sum of four musicians.

3-Orphan Army (4:21)

Songwriter: Dana Cooper
Publishing and PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC
Administered:Bluewater Music

A few days before Christmas I saw a young Marine at an airport somewhere in the US. He was home on leave and when I spoke to him he looked right through me. I saw deep sorrow in his eyes. And something else. Shock, shame, horror. I watched the young soldier amble out to the passenger pick-up area and wait for his ride. When I left he was still standing there alone like a stranded sleep walker.

On Christmas morning a year before, my father died. His funeral was a few days later on a sunny, cold day with snow on the ground. George served in the 10th Mountain Infantry in Italy during World War ll so his was a military funeral. Near the grave site hundreds of geese had gathered in a snowy field. At the firing of his three-volley salute they all took wing at the crack of the rifles and flew directly overhead. The enormity of their voices all raised together was awe inspiring and I couldn't hold back my tears. It sounded like human voices raised in some sort of jubilant cacophony.

I wrote "Orphan Army" as a tribute and a mourning for all veterans of all wars, especially those who return home psychologically wounded. My dad was diagnosed with PTSD at the age of 81. All my life I watched him struggle with his demons. He remains a hero in my eyes.

4-Big Foot Down (4:02)

Songwriter: Dana Cooper, Susan Gibson
Publishing and PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC /
Bug Music / Susan Gibsongs / BMI
Administered:Bluewater Music

It took several years to finally finish "Big Foot Down." I wrote a dozen verses and couldn't quite tie it all together. A fabulous Texas songwriter and friend Susan Gibson scheduled a writing appointment with me. I took her what I had for this song and we quickly found the right direction for the lyric. We had fun with it and it's become a popular song in my live shows.

I loved recording "Big Foot Down" for this project, particularly getting to sing with the phenomenal Ann McCrary. Ann's soulful voice just brings the track to life.

6-Jesse James (6:40)

Songwriter: Dana Cooper
Publishing and PRO:
Drunk Eye Music / BMI
Administered:Bluewater Music

First recorded in 1972 on Elektra Records, "Jesse James" has long been a mainstay in my live shows. I wrote the song shortly after moving to Los Angeles in 1971. I lived in a $49 a month apartment on Van Ness right across from Paramount Studios. The building looked like it had been there as long as the studio, ocher colored stucco, creaky hallways and stairs. One room with a bed, a table and chair, a small combination stove/refrigerator that you couldn't do much with. When the Murphy Bed was down I could barely squeeze through the bathroom door.

While sit-in non the bed one afternoon I get the idea to write a song in G Tuning. Of course, I didn't know what that was exactly so I concocted something and came up with a guitar part that rocked. I recall how exciting it was to discover such a new direction musically and lyrically. Living in Hollywood had brought great inspiration and introduced me to a cast of characters both cinematic and tragic. "Jesse James" was one of the songs that caught the attention of Marlin Greene at Elektra Records. The song appeared on my 1973 Elektra release.

Over the years the song has evolved and I wanted to include a new version on The Conjurer. Once again, Thomm Jutz suggested stripping it down to guitar and fiddle. On the original recording, the legendary Milt Holland played tabla, so we brought in one of Nashville's finest, Kirby Shelstad to do the same.

7-All the Way Down (3:11)

Songwriter: Dana Cooper
Publishing and PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC
Administered:Bluewater Music

Sometimes the best ideas are born from happy accidents. While lounging around after a gig and playing my guitar I happened onto this great, spooky dissonant E chord. This led to the entire guitar part for "All the Way Down." The idea of being consumed by love led to the scenarios of falling, tumbling, and burning "all the way down."

My co-producer Thomm Jutz and I wanted to include a couple of solo performances on The Conjurer and this song was an obvious choice for such an arrangement. We recorded it live, just the way I play it in concert. The harmonica part was overdubbed later.

8-I’m Gonna Give it Away (3:30)(Featured Track)

Songwriter: Dana Cooper
Publishing and PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC
Administered:Bluewater Music

Once in a while I set out to write the simplest, most direct love song possible. For "I'm gonna Give it Away" I started with a jubilant, three chord guitar part. Immediately, it felt like something one could dance to and the lyrics just poured out. Surrender and celebration were my objectives. I had great fun with wordplay and managed to write a song people sing along with at my shows.

This was a perfect fit for our rhythm section in the studio. Thomm Jutz added electric slide guitar and Ann McCrary graced the track with soulful background vocals.

9-Straight Into The Guns( 3:35)

Songwriter: Dana Cooper
Publishing and PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC
Administered:Bluewater Music

I wrote "Straight Into the Guns" while staying at a Salvation Army in the ancient Viking trading town of Visby on Gotland Island in Sweden. Visby is surrounded by a stone wall which was built to defend against invaders. Supposedly there is Viking gold hidden somewhere in that wall but no one has ever found it. I flew into Visby early one morning and checked into my room at the Salvation Army. Feeling jet lagged I stared out my window for a while looking through one of the city gates out to the Baltic Sea. Eventually I donned my pajamas and climbed into the bed. Just as I began dozing off the entire building started vibrating with the sound of bas guitar and drums. An oompah beat pounded from the floor above my bed. It was Sunday and the Salvation Army was just beginning their church service.

For a second I imagined running upstairs in my pjs and screaming for them to stop. That idea was short lived once I realized my actions could be bad for foreign relations. So, I got dressed and went for a long walk along the old wall, watching the fog burn away. When I returned to my little room all was quiet again. I grabbed my old Gibson guitar, put it in open B tuning and began strumming a couple of harmonic chords in a militaristic rhythm. Thinking of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan I began writing from the perspective of a soldier who keeps fighting against all odds.

Like most of the songs on "The Conjurer" Thomm Jutz and I kept it simple recording the basic tracks live with bass and drums. Thomm later added electric guitar and dobro.

10-Laugh (3:38)

Songwriters: Dana Cooper, Klaus Caprani
Publishing and PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC /
Klaus Caprani Publishing / KODA
Administered:Bluewater Music

The inspiration for "Laugh" came to me in a hot tub in a blizzard one night in Taos, New Mexico. Homesick and road weary the snow blowing from the pine trees and the moon peeking through the breaking clouds brought a melody and some lyrics to mind. I ran back to my room to retrieve a recorder, ran back to the hot tub, jumped in and sang the first few lines. A couple of weeks later I sat down with my friend Klaus Caprani in Copenhagen and we finished the song together.

11-Mile Wide Smile (4:26)(Featured Track)

Songwriter: Dana Cooper
Publishing and PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC
Administered by:Bluewater Music

"Mile Wide Smile" was a title I carried around for a while. My wife Linda was the inspiration. The music for the song came to me one day as I played around with a G tuning. I'd written several songs in that particular tuning over the years but discovered a whole new approach to it in this song. The lyrics just started tumbling out as a kind of fairy tale about a girl who lives in the forest and has the ability to see the good in everything.

12-Cold Wind And Bitter Fiddles (5:20)

Songwriter: Dana Cooper
Publishing and PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC
Administered:Bluewater Music

In the summer of 1970 I dropped out of college and my draft status jumped to 1A. I was sweating it out, literally, painting scenery for an outdoor theater in Kansas City MO, and listening to the radio each day for the latest lottery numbers. My father pulled me aside one night and said he would help me get out of the country if I wanted. Dad was a decorated hero from the 10th Mountain Infantry in World War ll. He had been a "love it or leave it" kind of guy until he began learning more about what was going on in Viet Nam. I was shocked when he told me "If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't fight anybody's war." Unlike many of my friends, I drew a high number in the lottery and never had to make the decision.

I recorded "Cold Wind and Bitter Fiddles" in the late 1980's but always felt I could do a better version. Thomm Jutz and I cut the song with a rhythm section but it never quite met up to our expectations. We added instruments and remixed but it still lacked something. Knowing it was a key song to the entire project I suggested we go in and record it again, this time live with two fiddle players. Deanie Richardson and Jeremy Abshire tripled up their fiddle parts and brought fire and passion to the track.

13-Good Place To Begin( 3:06)

Songwriters: Dana Cooper/Parisch Browne
Publishing and PRO:
Dog Eared Music / Bluewater Music / SESAC /
Parisch Browne Publishing / IMRO
Administered:Bluewater Music

Parisch Browne was a name I was familiar with because several of my friends had written with him in Ireland. So when I arranged my next tour of Ireland I contacted Parisch vis Skype. We scheduled a writing appointment that would require me to drive from Dublin to Galway, back to Dublin for a show, then back to Galway for a concert. This was the only time Parisch could get together.

By the time I arrived at his home in Galway I was tired and feeling less than enthusiastic. He suggested we go into town for some fish and chips and a Guinness. I felt revived. After that we sat at his kitchen table and he held up three pieces of paper, each with a song idea written scribbled across the page. He held each one up for a few seconds while I studied it. I don't recall what was written on the pages but before long finished "Good Place To Begin."

In the studio the song went down smoothly. Just a live three piece version. Later, Thomm Jutz added a keyboard part and then had the brilliant idea of adding Fats Kaplin on steel guitar.


Out of the heartland of America, stomping grounds of Truman and Twain, “powerhouse” troubadour Dana Cooper dedicated himself to a life of music over 40 years ago. This song poet engages and inspires audiences around the world with his quick wit, insightful stories and commanding presence. He is the recipient of the 2014 Heritage Musician award from Pilgrim Center for the Arts in Kansas City, MO. He was also named the 2015 Spirit of Folk award winner by Folk Alliance International. He has performed on Austin City Limits, Mountain Stage and the Kerrville Folk Festival where he was nominated for their Hall of Fame. Cooper’s songs have been recorded by top-notch artists such as bluegrass star Claire Lynch; Irish vocalist Maura O’Connell; and luminary songwriters Pierce Pettis and Susan Werner. Cooper’s mixture of flat-picking, finger-picking and percussive strumming style is legend among other guitarists. An expressive singer his voice is ageless evoking a rich lifetime of experience.

At 12 he sang, played drums, guitar and harmonica in local bands. By 13 he began writing his own songs and at 16 he performed regularly at the prestigious Vanguard Coffeehouse in Kansas City. His deep love and commitment to a life of music drew Cooper away from an art scholarship. Cooper took to the road touring midwest college coffeehouses for one year then sold an electric guitar and his entire record collection to buy a one-way ticket to Los Angeles. Four months later he was signed to Elektra Records where his eponymous first album was released in 1973. The record features such acclaimed players as Leland Sklar, Russ Kunkel and Jim Horn.Years later he returned to San Francisco City College to study another great love, horticulture. Still he played whenever possible in clubs all over the Bay Area. Cooper’s diverse experiences as a taxi driver, warehouseman, nurse’s aid, gardener, waiter and touring musician continued to bring maturity and depth to his songwriting.

Cooper eventually moved to Texas writing, performing and recording with Shake Russell in the late 70s and with his own power trio, DC3 during the early 80s. Returning to his roots as a solo performer Cooper relocated to Nashville in 1988. He has become an integral figure in the Music City songwriting community collaborating with renowned writers such as Tom Kimmel, Sally Barris, Kim Carnes and Don Henry. Cooper has been invited to participate in songwriting workshops from Belfast to Copenhagen to Austin.

His prolific endeavors have resulted in 28 albums. The critically acclaimed Miracle Mile on Compass Records was nominated for a Nashville Music Award as “Best Pop Album” and was chosen by Performing Songwriter magazine as one of the top DIY recordings for the year. Harry Truman Built a Road was named one of the best records of 2002 by The Tennessean and was also chosen as one of the top twelve DIY recordings for that year. Made of Mud released on King Easy Records in 2005 won Cooper the “Best Male Songwriter Award” by Indie Acoustic Project. Working with co-producer/guitarist Thomm Jutz, Cooper released his 27th album, Building a Human Being, in September, 2015.


Kerrville Folk Festival (Texas)

Belfast/Nashville Songwriters Festival (N. Ireland)

Napa Valley Music Festival (California)

Copenhagen Songwriters Festival (Denmark)


The Bluebird Café (Nashville, TN)

The Cactus Café (Austin, TX)

Anderson Fair (Houston, TX)

Berlin Guitars (Berlin, Germany)

McCabe’s (Santa Monica, CA)

The Birchmere (Alexandria,VA)

Passim (Cambridge, MA)
  • Members:
    Dana Cooper
  • Sounds Like:
    Paul Simon, James Taylor, Peter Gabriel, Shawn Colvin, Joni Mitchell, Richard Thompson, Beatles, Lindsey Buckingham
  • Influences:
    Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Joni Mitchell, Richard Thompson, Buffy St. Marie, Randy Newman, Tom Waits, The Beatles, Paul Simon, Judy Collins, The Police, Stevie Wonder, Little Feat, Fleetwood Mac, Taj Mahal, Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein, The Byrds, Tom Pe
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