|Photo: Shervin Lainez|
It’s easy to relate to the idea of finishing up high school and heading off to college without putting much thought into it. That was the situation that Liz Cooper found herself in when she graduated from high school in Baltimore, Maryland. With a full athletic scholarship to play golf at Towson University, going off to college seemed like the obvious choice at the time. It didn’t take long for Liz to find that college wasn’t the path for her, though.
“When I got there I realized it was a full-time job,” Liz explains. She recalls waking up at the crack of dawn to attend morning workouts, and go straight to class after that, and to practice right after class, and finally, topping off the night with a few hours of study hall. “You really have to love it, and if that’s what you wanna do then you’ll have a great time. But if you don’t wanna do that, then its gonna be awful.”
Liz kept her full-time commitment to university athletics for a year, the whole time thinking that it wasn’t really what she wanted to do. Upon finishing her freshman year, she dropped out. At the time, she wasn’t sure what she was going to do next.
“I got so burned out from doing that,” Liz recalls, “So I left, and I started working to save up money and figure out what I wanted to do next. Music had just taken over my life at that point. I mean I’d been playing for a long time, but that’s all I really enjoyed doing. So I started to just go for it.”
To Liz Cooper, “going for it” meant moving to Nashville. At the time, Liz only knew one person in Music City, a friend of a friend of her Dad’s who was nice enough to give Liz some feedback on the songs she was making at the time. After spending more and more time in Nashville, Liz kept meeting more people and found a sense of community that made her feel right at home.
“Nashville just kind of appeared and seemed tangible to me,” Liz says. “I just felt like maybe I could do something with anything down here, and it wasn’t completely overwhelming.” She does still play golf sometimes, especially as a way of spending time with her Dad. “It’s fun,” she says, “you know, a walk with a purpose.”
Now, several years after making the move to Nashville, Liz Cooper and her band have just released their debut full-length album, Window Flowers. The album follows a 2014 EP called Monsters that shows the beginnings of the psychedelic folk sound that comes in at full-strength on Window Flowers. The album was recorded at Nashville’s Welcome to 1979, and was released on the band’s own label, Sleepyhead Records, via Thirty Tigers.
Window Flowers is a fantastic debut album, and one that will carry Liz Cooper & The Stampede to far (out) places. They are set to embark on a huge nationwide tour starting later this month and running through December, including a date here in Charleston on Saturday, September 1st at the Charleston Music Hall with Houndmouth (who also just released a new album), Jump Castle Riot, Emma Kate McLain, and All Types of Kinds as part of the Charleston Music Confab.
The Charleston Music Hall show on September 1st will mark the second time that Liz Cooper & The Stampede has played in Charleston, the first being back in June with Tyler Childers at a sold-out Pour House show. They have, however, crossed paths with SUSTO a few times on their travels, including most recently a show at The Top Hat in Missoula, Montana.
As for Liz Cooper’s plans for the future, she says she’s always writing and does have a few songs that she would be interested in taking into the studio. She’s also learning how to record herself, figuring out how to make demos and all that good stuff. But for now, she’s just keeping it fun and “enjoying the splash of Window Flowers.”
Listen to Window Flowers by Liz Cooper & The Stampede below, and get tickets to the Charleston Music Hall show here.