CopE-ing with OBJ

obj 4 days

CopE, the brilliant quartet from Tampa, ended their glorious run as the Bay area’s top jamband with two magical performances at last year’s Great Outdoors Jam. Ever the eternal optimist, I’m calling it a hiatus. (They did reunite for the Keepin’ D Funky benefit!) I first “discovered” CopE opening for New Monsoon at Skipper’s Smokehouse in May of 2004. Since then, I’ve seen the band 30+ times, and every one was musical joy.

For years, CopE was one of the cornerstones of the Orange Blossom Jamboree. Here was our report from OBJ 2015:

CopE was headlining the Friday festivities, and it was hard to tell who was more pumped up about it – the fans or the band. Some sort of alien abduction had taken place, however. This wasn’t CopE from Tampa. This was CopE from, like, Mars or something. Possibly farther out. It was stunning.

cope obj 15

Once again, Kenny Stadelman and Brad Elliott came up huge on bass and drums. I had heard them in a different context backing Tony and Dani from Come Back Alice recently, and I now have an even greater appreciation, even 30+ shows later in Kenny’s case, for what these two gentlemen bring to the stage. It was an incredible night.

An amazing jam eventually led into “Awake.” As I was trying to pick my jaw up off the ground, MusicFestNews photographer Brian Hensley famously quoted: “Never miss an OBJ CopE show.” He reminded me of their stellar set last year as well. Critter came up and just killed it. Then an absurdly sick jam developed out of “When It All Comes Down.” Dre Mack, who plays guitar with the Juanjamon Band, and man-about-OBJ Isaac Corbitt on harp jumped on stage for a deep, deep “Outer Space.” Mars wasn’t far enough, I guess.

I’ll have to paraphrase here. Dennis Stadelman then said, “Been here before? Newbies, welcome home.” There is was again, the weekend’s other theme. HOME. HOMETEAM. It’s not an idle concept. It is a powerful unifying mantra.

So that was CopE OBJ 2015. There will be no CopE OBJ 2016. Well, not exactly, anyway, but… all of the boys will be playing in some capacity or other, which will be a great blessing to the CopE faithful, and we are legion!

Dennis Stadelman with Chris Critter Ricker

Dennis Stadelman with Chris Critter Ricker

Guitarist and lead vocalist Dennis Stadelman doesn’t plan to sleep, apparently. His collective Sonic Stew has the penultimate performance on OBJ Sunday. In addition, he plans on “doing a few with Holey Miss Moley Thursday, Applebutter Express Friday, Troy Youngblood and the Soulfish Saturday.” That’s a full dance card (unless you’re Christian Ryan).

Dennis has been playing with Troy Youngblood’s Soulfish on occasion, and the two of them also perform as St Yo, an acoustic duo. Dennis also has a trio called Grape Soda with Kenny Harvey (Holey Miss Moley) and Yral ‘datdudeondrums’ Morris (Come Back Alice), and his new album 9 Lives is a great treat.


Tony Tyler, Brad Elliott, Dani Jaye and Kenny Stadelman

When Come Back Alice performed Zep’s Song Remains the Same at Hometeam New Year’s Rally, Tony Tyler and Dani Jaye were backed by CopE bass player Kenny Stadelman and drummer (#3) Brad Elliott. This rhythm section was perfect, especially when Elliott played “Moby Dick.” We certainly hope to see both of them on stage at OBJ.

Meesta Juanjamon played tenor saxophone, EWI, and keyboards with CopE (he also is a nasty bass player). He led CopE in that deluxe reggae direction and stirred up the funk regularly. He now leads the Juanjamon Band, the premier funk band in the area (and that’s saying something, because the funk here is deep!). If you’re not dancing and smiling at a Juanjamon show, you’d better check your pulse.

cope juan

Juanjamon also joined Joe Marcinek when Joe first assembled an all-star band here last October and played with an even stronger version in January. He and Marcinek recently played a number of dates including the Wanee Festival with Dani Jaye and with Tony Hall and Alvin Ford of Dumpstaphunk, and Juanjamon sat in with Bobby Lee Rodgers on the Peach Stage at Wanee as well.

Dave Gerulat and Michael Garrie

Dave Gerulat and Michael Garrie

Dave Gerulat was the original CopE drummer when I first heard them. He is now a member of the excellent group shoeless soul, plays often on percussion with Row Jomah, and sits in with other bands on occasion.

Michael Garrie (drummer #2) is now the Thunderfoot driving force behind the Juanjamon Band. Also, Garrie is one of the biggest music fans and can be seen regularly supporting other musicians at shows. He is the embodiment of true support.

cope garrie

Michael “Thunderfoot” Garrie

I HopE you’ll be able to CopE with all of this at OBJ! See you Thursday!!!


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