Is Charlie Cooley the Rhythmic Glue that holds the Festival together?


These days it’s getting increasingly difficult to spot truly great drummers.  All too frequently, excess substitutes for substance. In this crowded environment Charlie Cooley stands proud, his pulse unshakeable, his aesthetic sense finely tuned.

The Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival is now in its 14th year. Charlie Cooley has been a part of it nearly since the start.

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Charlie took advantage of the usual school programs—stage bands, concert bands, and orchestras.  Although his skill as a soulful drummer found him work locally, Charlie became restless and relocated to Toronto. That city is the seat of the Canadian recording industry and, with its history of rhythm & blues and ethnic diversity, was a perfect fit for Charlie.

When Amanda Marshall was in her prime, Charlie was her drummer and appeared on every major television spot in America, including Rosie O’Donnell and Good Morning America. Charlie also hit the bricks with Anne MurrayLong John BaldryPrairie OysterJimmy RankinGeorge FoxThe Guess Who and Sass Jordan.  Nowadays, turn on prime time TV and Charlie will be visible as house drummer on The Gemini AwardsThe Juno AwardsEast Coast Music Awards, and Canada Day backing countless artists. Charlie also toured extensively with Canadian Idol winners. Charlie recently finished a North American tour with The Blues Brothers with Musical Direction by Paul Shaffer and produced by Dan Aykroyd and Judith Belushi Pisano.

This list also includes dozens of appearances over the years at the Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival playing for a variety of great artists who depend on his steady groove. It’s not uncommon for Charlie to have just enough time after finishing one gig to pack up his gear, move to another venue and set up just in time for the next gig. Some of the Festival artists Charlie has played with include Trouble and StrifeHeather KatzAuraHeillig Manouvre and the Orangeville Jazz Band. Now living in Orangeville, Charlie thinks it’s fantastic that an event of the quality and scope of the Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival is – literally – right in his own back yard.

Charlie says “I have played at the festival off and on for many years – the past few years I have been spending a little less time on the road which has afforded me more local opportunities. I’m so thankful to the festival organizers for continuing to present this wonderful event and it’s a privilege for me to be part of it.

You can catch Charlie in action this weekend on Friday night @ 8PM MainStage with Larry Kurtz and the Lawbreakers; Saturday afternoon @ 1:30PM Public Library with Denise Reis; Saturday @ 6PM MainStage with Taylor/Kurtz Eruption; Saturday @ 9PM Holbrooks with Sil Simone and Sunday 12PM MainStage with Heilig Manoeuvre and Denise Reis.

Thanks Charlie! We’re so glad you help glue the Festival together!

Check out Charlie

(With copy from T. Bruce Wittet)

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