Ian Cooke is one busy boy. Since dropping Fortitude, his second album, this past November, the despondent dreamboat has been busily weaving himself in and out of video projects, mini-tours and a gig recording songs for a local play about online dating -- all while keeping his fashionable feet on the ground with his job at the Esquire Theater.
This Saturday, March 31, Cooke will join Shenandoah Davis and the Cenntennial at the L2 Arts and Culture Center for an intimate, no-distractions evening of finely cultivated music -- a vibe Cooke is looking to focus on more in the future.
"I'd say the detail of my music sometimes gets lost in a bar setting -- with all the glasses clinking and the drunk people talking louder than they need to," he says, explaining that from now on he will be pursuing quiet, theater-style venues for his performances as opposed to the noisy taverns and coffeehouses he came up in during his days as a less-appreciated artist. "Not to say I'll never play a bar again. I'm not all, 'Why aren't you listening to me?' Like this one time, when I saw Ed Harcourt playing at the Bluebird and some people were talking at the bar, and Ed stops playing and says, 'If you guys don't shut up, I'm not going to play!' It made the show real awkward. I don't want to be a dick about it."
Thankfully, Cooke doesn't have to worry about alienating anyone by pursuing the theater, especially considering that the theater seems to be coming to him. Last December, Cooke was pursued by local playwright/actress Luciann Lajoie, who asked him to record a few tracks for her upcoming play, Date*. The story follows an aging urbanite who becomes swept up in the manic world of online dating. Due to the subject matter, Lajoie asked the somber singer to cover some very un-Ian Cooke songs: Jackie DeShannon's "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" and "This Will Be" (better known most recently as the theme song for the eHarmony commercials).
"I definitely did some altering with those songs," Cooke points out. "Once I got the chords and the structure down, I kind of disregarded the style and made it...well, whatever you'd call my style. They're a lot more cheery than most of my songs -- but [my versions] are still fairly uplifting. It was a really good exercise for me, but I don't think I have it in me to play them in a live setting wholeheartedly."
In addition to his newly refined taste for performing in a theater setting, Cooke also stopped by Colorado Public Radio's Open Air 1340 studio to perform his song "The Towering Prince." The performance was captured on video by 1930 Pictures and is one of the many installments in his music video series. "We're definitely trying to get a collection of videos together, either from the record or live versions," Cooke says. "One video for each song on the album."
This Saturday will be a tour-kickoff show for Cooke, who will venture through the Midwest and along the Pacific Coast with Davis, returning to Colorado to perform at the Fox Theatre on Friday, May 11. In the meantime, you can hear Cooke's two new covers (along with a few instrumentals) in Date*, which runs Friday, April 20, through Saturday, May 12. Tickets for the play are $16 and can be purchased at the Denver Center website.
Or, for those who can't wait that long, page down to hear Cooke's covers. Enjoy!
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music