Gerry grew up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne where he was drawn into the folk club scene in the North East during the 1960s. He was inspired by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, but soon discovered acoustic blues: Big Bill Broonzy, and Brownie McGhee – mainly through artists like Bert Jansch, Wizz Jones and Ralph McTell. Gerry moved to Yorkshire in 1972 as a teacher, playing folk clubs and joining a variety of bands. Once retired in 2002, he started writing songs and playing solo acoustic blues gig in pubs, clubs and festivals in the UK (mainly in the North) and in France, Spain and New Zealand (where his younger daughter lives).
A piece by Gerry Cooper for Bert Jansch
“I composed ‘Righteous Train’ three years ago. (I play it instrumentally here. It has a set of lyrics, but they are not complete yet.) Bert was the first guitarist I ever heard or saw who used Drop D tuning to play melodic phrases up the neck whilst still maintaining a steady bass. It was a lightbulb moment for me, and many of my own songs have been written with a Drop D accompaniment, including ‘Righteous Train’. Bert’s first CD absolutely stunned me: my first reaction was ‘This is amazing!’ and the second was ‘I’ll never be able to play like that!’ But that didn’t stop me trying …
“I first heard about Bert on the ‘folk grapevine’ in late 1964 (I’d just started Sixth Form and had not long been playing the guitar) and his eponymous first LP was the first one I ever bought, from JG Windows famous shop in Newcastle’s Central Arcade, with some birthday money in early 1965. I saw Bert perform a number of times, solo, with Pentangle, and once with Rod Clements. I’m honoured to be taking part in this journey on this lovely Yamaha guitar, for Bert, whom I’ve always admired. Avocet is my favourite after the first album.”