A good old-fashioned tour can be a grueling expedition, but performing on both sides of the U.S. on the same day bears its own unique stresses. Nicole Cooper, a Portland State alumna who performs under her surname, Cooper, is to perform in Nashville, Tenn., at 11:30 a.m. this Saturday, on Record Store Day. Later that evening, Cooper will also perform at 8:30 p.m. at Music Millennium here in Portland.
A good old-fashioned tour can be a grueling expedition, but performing on both sides of the U.S. on the same day bears its own unique stresses.
Nicole Cooper, a Portland State alumna who performs under her surname, Cooper, is to perform in Nashville, Tenn., at 11:30 a.m. this Saturday, on Record Store Day. Later that evening, Cooper will also perform at 8:30 p.m. at Music Millennium here in Portland.
Cooper, who graduated from PSU with a theater degree, has for many years aspired to live in Nashville. She got interested in the performing arts at an early age with Patsy Cline—a popular country music singer with heavy roots in the music culture of Nashville—as one of her primary inspirations.
“I have always wanted to live in Nashville, since I was 7 years old,” Cooper said. “I saw a Patsy Cline documentary when I was very little and I just decided I wanted to be the next Patsy Cline. I saw that show and I went into my room and sang into a Snapple bottle all night until I went to sleep. It just kind of got stuck in my head since I was a little kid that I wanted to live in Nashville, and I kind of got obsessed with it. I actually know more about Tennessee than most Tennesseeans.”
The road to Tennessee was not an easy one for Cooper, however. Upon graduating from PSU, she made the decision to pack up and move to Tennessee on her birthday. She saved up her money, packed up her things and hit the road—but not without some roadblocks.
“I decided to move on my birthday because that was an easy date to pick,” Cooper said. “I… worked at Lucky Devil [Lounge] as a cocktail waitress and a poker chip girl, and literally all of my tips except for my rent and my food went into a shoebox under my bed.
“I got in my van and headed to Nashville,” Cooper recalled. “I came out here and my van ended up breaking down in the desert on the way here. I got into Nashville with literally 200 bucks and no car. I used all of my money to rent a car. It ended up costing me almost $4,000.
“I needed to have the car for two weeks while I was in Austin for South by Southwest,” Cooper continued. “It was all the money that I had saved. I came into town and I auditioned at Coyote Ugly. I needed the job, like, right now. So I went and auditioned and they were like, you can start tomorrow if you want. I made enough money that night for the deposit.”
Cooper brings this kind of dedication to her craft to Record Store Day, a yearly celebration that commemorates the resurgence of vinyl as a means of owning tangible music and features performers from across the spectrum of musical genres.
This year’s lineup of releases includes the likes of At The Drive-In, Bon Jovi, Built to Spill, The Gaslight Anthem, Lamb of God, Ringo Starr and Tegan and Sara. While the releases are eclectic, the annual celebration of vinyl serves to highlight artists old and new and presents a reminder that an array of choices are available on this format that was once considered moribund.
Changing her style from vintage country to the rock ’n’ roll and jazz sounds of today,
Cooper’s Record Store Day seven-inch release, Live at the Historic Star Theater, includes two original songs and a non-album Aretha Franklin cover. The album got picked up through networking and is a glance into Cooper’s upcoming releases.
As part of Record Store Day
Saturday, April 20, 8:30 p.m.
3158 E Burnside St.
Free and open to the public
“My full album comes out in June. We’ll be coming to Portland to do a record release show—I’m not sure where,” Cooper said. “We got booked in Portland at the Waterfront Blues Festival this summer and we’re opening for Robert Plant. The fact that (a) he’s gonna be rockin’ out in my hometown and (b) I’ll get to play on the same stage as him has me pissing my pants right now.
“The thing about him is that he’s just so super megafamous, and his genres are all over the place, and he’s got all these roots, he’s got a massive fan base,” Cooper said. “We are excited that we’re gonna be able to perform in front of all of these people on the same stage as Robert Plant.”
Cooper returns to Portland roughly every six weeks, so be on the lookout for more shows and events featuring this up-and-coming artist.