The first time I met Peter Cooper was at a house concert in Springfield, Illinois, at Ben and Kari Bedford’s house. Phil Lee and Tom Mason had played at our house a few weeks before and we found out he was playing there as well. Our friend Richard kindly drove us. It wasn’t just Phil however, it was also Peter Cooper and Eric Brace. Although I’d heard their music this was the first time I’d seen them live. And as beautifully produced and recorded their music is, well, live is just a whole different thing, now isn’t it?
They were glorious.
In between sets I went into the kitchen and there was Peter. I must have had a glass of wine because I went right over and introduced myself. He, of course, was utterly charming. When he found out that Jason Ringenberg had played at our house, well, I obviously went WAY up in his estimation. He called Eric Brace over, saying excitedly, “Eric, she’s had JASON play at her house!”
We were smitten with Peter and Eric, both musically and personally so within a number of months they were playing at our house.
I can’t believe it was only 11 years ago that I met him. It seems like so much longer.
We were so lucky to have him play here a number of times, the last time with Thomm Jutz joining them. I didn’t think they could get any better than as a duo, but there you go. I was wrong. Ernie hates this video clip just because I played it way, way too many times but I’m glad I have it. It just gets me every time.
Numerous people have been writing about Peter. One thing that comes up again and again was his way of making people feel that they were important to him, that they were friends. It was all true though. I don’t know how he did it, but it was real.
I always worried about Peter a little bit. I can’t even tell you why but for all the brilliance and beauty and talent of him, those beautiful big eyes of his had a vulnerability to them. The last time I talked to him, on my birthday this year, I told him I was worried about him. It was probably obnoxious of me but he just said not to worry about him. I told him that when I had a friend I loved then I automatically worried about them. It’s a package deal I explained. I could hear him smile.
I remember talking to him at a house concert one time. He was upset about a debacle that had happened to Baker that day with school pick up. I shared my latest ups and downs with the boys. It felt so good. We understood each other. I have a feeling he was like me. When I love, I love really, really hard.
He knew how much I adored David Olney so he would usually work an Olney anecdote or impression into the show when he was here and just smile at me while he did it.
Once in a while he would comment on my blog. The day I got this comment I was completely flummoxed and thrilled. A compliment about writing from PETER COOPER? I tried to tell him how much that meant to me and he just shook his head and smiled at me.
I admit it made me a little giddy when I would realize he had read a blog post. One time during one of their online shows, as he and Eric were reading the names of those watching he commented on the recent bunk bed accident that had happened here. I giggled in delight.
I remember taking Peter and Eric to the Brass Rail the night they had opened for John Prine at the Virginia. Downtown was packed and when we suggested sitting outside those southern boys shivered at the idea so the Brass Rail it was. Eric had just lost his beloved mother-in-law that day and we were honored to keep them company.
Many other memories too. And I’m just one of so many people. Just one.
He touched so many of us.
Oh, oh, oh! One more…. Ernie had bought the big guitar we have at a flea market years ago. It had just a few smudged signatures on it. We never could read the top signature but when Amy Rigby was here she could clearly see that it was Bill Anderson and the Po’ Boys. Next time Peter was here I pointed it out to him. He took a picture of it, and being Peter Cooper, he sent it to Bill Anderson who REMEMBERED signing it.
The last time I saw him in person was the day after the David Olney memorial. We met him at the Country Music Hall of Fame and he introduced us to Jack Murray and Ramona LaBarre, their friendship yet another gift he gave us. He did that for so many.
Here we are at the 5 Spot a number of years ago. I think that’s Mary Sack peering over his shoulder. One of my favorite pictures. We were in town for the AMA’s and at the Tim Carroll Happy Hour. Peter swooped up behind me, tapped me on the shoulder and swept me into a hug. I swear I can almost feel it right now.
I love you, Peter Cooper.
Always and forever.
7 thoughts on “Always and forever, Peter Cooper”
I can feel it too, Cynthia. What a beautiful remembrance for a beautiful man.
I loved their concerts at your place–Eric & Peter were so good!
Look at baby Owen in that pic (well, he’s not a baby, but whoa! he’s little!)! Thanks for sharing the pix!
You captured him so well! I’d been worried about him too. His heart was so wide open that I think he was indeed always vulnerable.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute. ❤️💔❤️