By Peter Vankevich
(To listen to the song Hesitate, click start at bottom of page)
Shane Cooley has a new CD. The 27-year-old Virginia native, hailing from the rural Northern Neck region, is an English major grad from the College of William and Mary. He performs out of Austin, Texas, but his early performing roots took place on Ocracoke.
“One of the first times I ever played my music live was on Ocracoke,” he said in an interview. “I was 13 and had just begun writing and recording songs. My parents and I were visiting on vacation from Virginia, as we had been since I was little. We stopped for dinner at what used to be called The Pelican and caught local duo Coyote playing. I introduced myself to Marcy [Brenner] and Lou [Castro] in between sets, and they invited me to play a few of my songs.”
Marcy Brenner has fond recollections of his formative years.
“We would have him sit in with us when he was about 14 and visiting the island with his parents,” she said. “He always did great original songs which got better every year. He had us play on at least one of his recordings. He is a great guy!”
Shane has appeared at The Jolly Roger and Howard’s Pub.
“I’ve always found Ocracoke to be an inspiring place, and in 2010 I recorded The Vagabond EP with Marcy, Lou and Gary Mitchell at his beautiful Soundside Studio,” he said. “The last time I was on the island was a couple years ago, and I was honored to be asked to perform a few songs at the Ocrafolk Opry at Deepwater Theater.”
The songs on his new album, Kings Highway, which is his seventh release since 2008, have nice vocals, musical arrangements and great lyrics. One can see the English major influences. The songs have been described by Laurie Gallardo, KUTX Austin Music Minute, as “rich in roots, Americana, a bit of rock and eclectic touches of pop.”
KUTX Eklektikos host John Aielli admitted he fell in love with Shane’s music one summer when he heard it at a local coffee shop. “I’ve worked in radio since 1963, and over the years I’ve learned to recognize talent,” Aielli said recently. “There was something in his sound that made me want to listen…”
Shane started writing lyrics before he could play any instruments.
“Focusing on literature helped me find my voice as a songwriter, and I studied an odd variety of it with that purpose,” he said. “I rarely put direct literary references in my songs, but there are some allusions here and there.”
These days, he’s doing a lot of touring and traveling, both solo and with his new band, Shane Cooley & the Lucky Kings.
His tours have included Texas, both coasts and Europe, performing in Germany, England and The Netherlands.
“I love the road about as much as I love making music,” he said. “I’ve thought about Ocracoke a lot as I’ve traveled around, and I love coming back when I can. It is one of my top three sunsets..that view from Silver Lake is beyond words. I also love that it is mostly nature reserve. The rest of the Outer Banks has completely changed, but for the most part, Ocracoke is still Ocracoke. I’ve made some real friends there and good memories.”
With his busy schedule, he remains optimistic about enjoying more sunsets on Ocracoke.
“Here’s hoping we can swing by the island soon!” he said in a recent dispatch from Austin.
Listen to Hesitate: