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Trevor Cooke: Proudly (uniquely) West Virginian

“… Proudly West Virginian

Appalachia’s residing

When my folks successful

Don’t you dare overlook it …”

To listen to that hook is to know, instantly, that Trevor Cooke is a songwriter, musician and performer who prefers to not sing the Mountain State blues.

That’s, the age-old warble concerning the West Virginia child who comes of age right here, goes to highschool right here after which bails on the place — as shortly as he can.

“West Virginia is who I’m,” he’ll say.

“Appalachia is who I’m. This place, this area, completely defines me.”

In flip, the 20-year-old junior majoring in WVU’s Music Enterprise and Business Program is redefining a real signature track of West Virginia.

That might be “Nation Roads,” the singalong that made the state a vacation spot on AM radio in April 1971, when a smiling, shag-haired folks singer John Denver launched it as a single.

Cooke, who blends hip-hop, various and nearly all the things else within the songs he writes and performs, got here out with city power when he launched “Proudly West Virginian,” his tackle the tune, on his personal music label, EGO, three weeks in the past.

Go to his web site at https://www.trevorcooke.com/ to listen to it.

If the backup band sounds acquainted, that’s as a result of it’s.

The sonic blast, in reality, couldn’t be extra acquainted to the folks — born and bred, or in any other case — who cruise these rural thoroughfares each day.

With the blessing of the college’s Faculty of Music, Cooke used high-tech samplings of the “Delight of West Virginia” marching band, working by way of the now-iconic “Nation Roads” association first scored by professor emeritus James Miltenberger, who continues to be taking part in jazz piano gigs into his 80s.

“My grandparents reside inside strolling distance of Mountaineer Discipline,” stated Cooke, a metropolis native.

“I heard Dr. Miltenberger’s ‘Nation Roads’ each Saturday in Morgantown. To have the ability to do one thing with that association and the Delight is simply superb to me.”

Beneath the lights (electrical and eclectic)

Prepare dinner’s model hits that brass swagger, which he then layers along with his personal funky bass line, hip-hop drums and lyrics that rhyme the 160-year revolution, and evolution, that contains West Virginia’s social and labor historical past.

“ … Singing by way of the ache

To place the plan in movement

Want clear water drains

No runoff potion

Want trip days

And a few airways open

The businesses, the parasites

That keepin’ us chokin’ …”

Whereas he’d been enthusiastic about such a track for a while, the lyrics nonetheless rushed with the rate of the New River after a spring thaw.

He was taking a course titled “Ladies in Appalachia,” about the identical stretch he was coming to phrases with truly being an Appalachian and a West Virginian: Loud, proud and all that means.

“I simply began writing,” he stated, “and there it was.”

For “Proudly West Virginian,” it was a matter of sonic convergence.

A few years earlier, Cooke’s program produced a “Nation Roads” compilation, that includes a spread of interpretations of the tune.

Miltenberger himself offered a solo jazz model on piano — and the album boasted different eclectic choices from cello takes, operatic takes, a metal drum run by way of and flat-out flatpicking on a bluegrass model.

The Delight of West Virginia put down its observe beneath the lights on a soccer subject — simply not the one you’re pondering of, stated Joshua Swiger, a working musician and affiliate professor who helped encourage Cooke’s model, even when he didn’t notice it on the time.

“It was a chilly night time about this time of the yr,” Swiger stated.

“The band needed to go to College Excessive Faculty’s stadium as a result of Mountaineer Discipline is a giant echo chamber when there’s nobody it.

“The Delight nailed it, just like the Delight at all times nails it, and I had the recordings. I threw ‘em to Trevor and stated, ‘Hey, mess around with this. See what you provide you with.’”

‘Proper right here, in West Virginia’

When Swiger heard the ultimate model, he made positive his colleagues within the Faculty of Music did, too.

“I stated, ‘Are you guys listening to this?’ What a cool twist. He got here again with an entire new method.”

And one constructed on collaboration, the professor stated.

“So usually, music colleges are wedded to classical or jazz. Trevor took one thing and he made it up to date, and he made it his. That is what we have to be doing round right here.”

That’s what Cooke desires to do round right here.

“I wish to preserve writing and taking part in gigs,” he stated.

“I wish to produce my music and different folks’s music, proper right here, in West Virginia.”

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