Local legend brings wisdom to stage

March 30, 2010 9:13:00 AM



There is a song called "Out Among the Stars" about a boy with no money who tries to hold up a liquor store and is caught and shot and killed by the police. Bill Cooke''s favorite version of the song is done by John Starling, and his favorite lyric is dark but sheds a lot of light on Cooke''s view of the world we live in these days: "The evening news carries all the details, he dies in every living room in town." 


If you''ve seen Cooke play in person, the first thing you notice is his big smile, warm eyes and the way he seems to know everyone. If you walk up to say hi, you''re not getting away without a hug. Cooke is not a "dark" man, but he''s seen a lot, he''s experienced a lot, and you can hear it in his voice whether he''s playing the blues or rock and roll. I asked Bill what it was about this particular lyric that moved him, and he explained that in today''s society we''re all so "plugged in." whether it be social media, television, computers, text messages. Basically we''ve lost our privacy, our mystery, nothing goes "unnoticed or unpunished" anymore. His voice sounds weary, but only for a minute. Bill seems to have the energy of youth and the wisdom of a man who remembers back when people used to talk to each other, write letters, and remember people''s names. 


Bill''s been playing guitar since the age of 8 and has been entertaining all over the Golden Triangle for 21 years. He often plays acoustic guitar, all by himself, but also loves to play in the company of friends. The Bill Cooke Trio (Jim Beaty on bass, Bob Damm on drums and Bobby Sherman on keyboards and sax) play all over the place at parties and weddings and can be seen the first Thursday of each month at Dave''s Dark Horse Tavern in Starkville.  


He''s in the process of forming a new group (which is so far nameless) that focuses more on the early Sun Records era of music, playing everything from Carl Perkins to Jerry Lee Lewis. That group (Mark Tribble on stand up bass and Jon Staggers on drums) plays the second Thursday of the month at Dave''s as well. 


Bill himself says his musical style is more "folk and roots music" and covers a broad area of genres and styles. If you have a favorite song, then go check out this Golden Triangle legend next time you get the chance. I can almost guarantee he knows it, and is more than happy to have you hang out and sing along.