Chris Cook, Swampcandy

The MUSIC could no more be boxed in than the man himself. Growing up in Belmont, a small town on the outskirts of Charlotte, NC, Chris Cook was surrounded by music from day one. As a singer-songwriter and multi-dimensional musician, he knows what he likes and what suits his needs. While comfortable playing country or rock, Chris also has a fondness for a classic R&B groove, the catchy beat of Pop, or the “from-the-gut soulfulness” of the Blues. The first thing you’ll notice is that voice. Chris Cook is a singer’s singer with a delivery that’s pure and natural, unforced but expressive, relaxed but full of inner fire. In finding his own voice, Cook has taken cues from favorite singers on the country side (George Jones, Merle Haggard) to the blues-rock realm (Paul Rodgers, Jimmy Hall, Lowell George). You’ll also hear a bit of Jackson Browne’s earnestness and Jimmy Buffett’s laid-back whimsy in there too. Averaging 200 dates a year, the hard-working Cook continues to tour regionally and internationally showcasing strong vocals, seasoned musicianship, a prolific writing ability and a performance of a true musical leader and entertainer.
Chris Cook… His Story
I wanted a bike for my 9th or 10th birthday, but Mama thought I was fit for a 1960’s Kay guitar. I think she paid fifty dollars for it, and boy was it a beast to play! I hated it. The strings were at least a half inch from the fret board. It may as well have been a ball-field length for young tender fingers like mine attempting to play “House of the Rising Sun” or the “Boogie-Woogie”. With the resentment of not getting the bike, on top of sore finger tips I think I remember breaking all but three of the strings on it and chuckin’ it under my bed until I was around twelve years old. When I realized how hip it was to even have a guitar to start with, it wasn’t long ’til I was picking with school friends and learning every Eagles, Skynyrd, Zeppelin, AC/DC and Bob Seger record I could get my hands on. It was the challenge that hooked me.
I dropped out of night school to go jam with what would eventually become my first “real” band, Stone Blue. I remember one of our first paying gigs was at a place called Cadillac’s in Hickory, NC opening for Quiet Riot. I think we made fifty bucks and a case of bud in the can, but we were damn sure there and thought we had arrived! We ended up on the “good side” of the owners, Rocky and Carmine which landed us opening slots at their clubs for the likes of The Fabulous T-birds, Night Ranger, Mother’s Finest, Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot, Foghat and others. Stone Blue played their last show on September 12th 1993. It was my 21st birthday.
By this point, I had started singing more, blowing harp and wanted to start my own group as the lead singer and writer. I quit my “day gig” at the local mill and formed Zeke’s Wheel, a full-time working band with great players and singers who could play anything from the Allman Brothers to Doobies to Beatles. We mainly stayed in the Carolinas playing 100 or so nights a year and were a great band, who loved to play music, drink and party our asses off. After a short two to three year stint, Zeke’s Wheel would roll no more.
From 1996-2000, I was chosen by the Department of Defense to entertain and boost morale for troops stationed abroad in South East Asia, the Mediterranean coast, Greenland and Cuba. I had never even been on a plane, but there I went sometimes for two months at a time and eventually landed the role of Tour Manager. It was a very cool period in my life and a great experience that I will always cherish. God bless the Armed Forces!
My debut solo record came the following year in 2001. “Heartless Road” was put out with the help of the internet, numerous friends, family and fans. I think I sold (and gave away) about 2000 copies. Not bad for peddling ‘em out of my truck at gigs! My follow-up effort “Small Town Gone”, produced by renowned percussionist Jim Brock (Joe Walsh, Kathy Matea, Delbert McClinton, John Mellencamp, etc.) was released in 2004. With “Small Town Gone”, I was fortunate enough to branch out into the European market, specifically the United Kingdom, Denmark and Holland. I’ve been touring in Europe sometimes twice a year since its release.
Now comes “Bag of Emotions”. With the help of Motown legends Bob Babbitt on bass (Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, and Robert Palmer), drummer Ed Greene (Barry White, Marvin Gaye, Steely Dan) and notable Nashville keyboardist Steve King (Keith Urban), I was inspired to dig deep into my Rock, R&B and Blues roots. There’s not a single fiddle or steel guitar within a mile of this recording. It’s an electric guitar and Hammond-organ-driven record that I truly feel has captured my essence as a guitarist, singer and live performer. Now you be the judge…

"Down-dirty, bump-and-grind, moaning-and-groaning blues roots music. I'm thinking that these guys are channeling R.L. Burnside or some other departed Hill-country or Delta blues master."
— Tampa Blue, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

"Whiskey-soaked deep woods field holler for the modern age."
— Willie Nile

"Ruben Dobbs has done a masterful job evoking the spirit of Robert Johnson and John Lee Hooker on his new album, "SWAMPCANDY". You get the feeling he's been down to the crossroads. He is a man possessed"
— Bob Waugh - Program Director, WRNR-FM

"Ruben Dobbs channels raw blues power with aggressive slide guitar playing and robust vocals that bring to mind the ghosts of Son House and Leadbelly."
— Cary Wolfson - "Blues From the Red Rooster Lounge"

Swampcandy has shared their aggressive, stomping Mississippi Delta Blues and cross-genre sets locally, nationally and internationally —Including: the Baltimore/Annapolis/Wash. D.C. & Virginia area, and venturing even further to Philly, NYC, Chicago, Minnesota, Colorado & the San Francisco Bay Area. This unforgettable, rock your boots band, has even amazed the ears for fans throughout the U.K.!
In the midst of Swampcandy's overflowing schedule, this unique duo is no where near slowing down . In addition to creating new material to consistently please their ever growing fan base , they are also gearing up for and are excited to announce their upcoming 10/2011, US South East Tour, which will flow down the East Coast to the Florida Keys in order to grow their fan base in the region and spread their music.
Swampcandy was started as a solo project by Ruben Dobbs in 2007, after years of playing and fronting bands that ranged from Zappaesque to Americana to Pop Metal. In 2010 Swampcandy added Joey Mitchell, a talented upright bass player that plays kick drum. He is sought after regionally for his skills on the bass ranging from Jazz to Bluegrass and everything in between. The signature sound of Swampcandy is found within their ability to shift tempo and dynamics in order to emphasize lyrical content. To watch them play one would think they share a brain.
While Mississippi Delta Blues is the back bone of the Swampcandy sound, the vast pallet of Ruben Dobbs, as a song writer, brings a rainbow of influences to the table to create a stimulating performance free from the cookie cutter sound of an artist strictly tied to one genre. In their non-blues tunes hints of old country, old time and bluegrass can be found as well as gypsy jazz and more modern influences like Radio Head and Gillian Welch. His voice and lyrics speak to the listener from the depths of experience. The sound comes from the mountain. from the farm, from the swamp and from an honest pure place where nothing can hide.

$8.00 - $10.00


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