Citizen Cope

House of Blues--Parish Room

June 16, 2005

Maybe I'm not listening to the right radio stations. The Parish Room at the House of Blues was packed Thursday night for Citizen Cope, and that made me feel pretty dumb when the band broke out some thought provoking yet freewheeling music. How did all these people find out about Citizen Cope? Why didn't I know? New Orleans may be more on top of things than I thought.

Singer-songwriter Clarence Greenwood is the leader of Citizen Cope. The band with Memphis as a geographical reference point was touring behind their second CD, "The Clarence Greenwood Recordings." Two keyboards(think Stevie Wonder) accompanied acoustic guitarist Greenwood, along with hip-hop drumbeats and heavy bass lines. They locked up and created a pulse of sound that was similar to the chest-pounding Dancehall force of D.J. T-Roy.

Citizen Cope was a better version of Everlast. Like G. Love but less rap-oriented. Like Wyclef but more R&B-oriented. Troubles of street life dominated his lyrics, but he got his message across with a "it's gonna be alright, mama" sway. It was a reflective party. Some songs were good for getting lost in Greenwood's gruff yet sensual voice, while other songs were good for let-your-hair-down booty shaking.

All in all, the music was a big nod to the socially conscious fun of Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley. Some songs definetely had an island flavor.

Greenwood didn't say much, but he didn't have to. His lyrics spoke for him.

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