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Guitar Renegade Eli Cook Covers Blues Legends On "Ace, Jack, & King"

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Eli Cook
VA—When you think of hot blues slide guitarists names like Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton, and Ry Cooder come to mind. But one new-generation axe master stands alone—guitar renegade Eli Cook. Much to the elation of Eli Cook fans across the globe, the blues guitar prodigy is preparing to release his fifth album Ace, Jack, & King, tackling tunes like “Catfish Blues," “Driftin," and “Crow Jane." Eli's interpretation of blues legends Skip James, Charles Brown, Rev. Gary Davis and Nick Drake not only reinvents their classics, it breaths new life into them.

“I would like to be able to revitalize the blues/rock genre," Eli confesses. “Back in the '60s and '70s it was very obvious how the two walked hand in hand; it seems it has become more and more difficult to see that relationship in contemporary popular music now. Artists like Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, ZZ Top, the Stones were exemplary in their ability to fuse the old blues lyrics, guitar, and vocal styles with modern production, writing, and arrangement to make something new and appealing. A few more recent bands have also done this—Clutch, Corrosion of Conformity, Monster Magnet, Audioslave—but by and large none of the mainstream artists have been doing anything remotely similar for several years now. I think that is very tragic. Without blues as the integral ingredient, music just ain't worth listening to in my book."

Eli Cook was raised on the blues: Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, Lightnin' Hopkins and Mississippi John Hurt, to name a few. He first picked up the guitar at the age of fourteen and never looked back! He early on began performing at gospel shows and revivals in Nelson County, Virginia. His first electric trio, The Red House Blues Band, was formed in 2002 while a junior at Monticello High School. Eli was called a 'blues phenomenon' by reviewers in near-by Charlottesville: “Featuring fast-fingered guitar and a powerful voice beyond his years, Cook doesn't need any Robert-Johnson-style pact with the devil to take him to the top." (Eli Cook's Red House Blues Band, by Matthew Hirst, C'ville Review, 12/10/2003)

“Obviously all of the big hill-country and delta guys have been a big influence on me," Eli explains. “Skip James, Fred MacDowell, John Lee Hooker, Son House, R.L. Burnside. But I also really draw a lot on the styles of many of the hard rock/grunge artists that became popular in the '90s. The reason I make a comparison between the bluesmen and the grunge guys is the feeling of authenticity in the expressions of angst that they both convey. There's a whole lotta soul in that stuff; and that's what needs to be brought back to the mainstream music and back on the radio. I feel like the music that I am doing right now could do just that."

In 2004 internationally renowned blues bass-man Steve Riggs joined Eli's rhythm section; a veteran of the blues circuit who had played and recorded with Muddy Waters, Jimmy Vaughn, Bob Margolin, and many others, and under whose tutelage Eli recorded 'Moonshine Mojo,' his first full length recording, which has become a collector's item today. The following year Eli returned his attention to classic acoustic blues. Influenced by the songs of R.L. Burnside, Bukka White, and Son House, he recorded 'Miss Blues'es Child' at The Sound of Music Studios in Richmond. Eli called it ..."blues, blues, blues"; reviewers called him ..."a young gun with an old soul...storming through banged-up slide guitar romps, tackling the storied form with the mean streak of his generation's metal men." Independently released in 2005, 'Miss Blues's Child' was released internationally by Valley Entertainment on the Sledgehammer Blues label in 2007.

“My shows are never identical," says Eli. “The music is about half original/half covers (solo that is). Band shows tend to be more original. I make a whole lot of noise at solo shows to compensate for other musicians, so the dynamics are never dull, no matter what venue or crowd. Playing live is a big part of music for me, and it is definitely an art form in itself that I have spent a long time developing."

In early 2007 Eli returned to thee studio to work on his next solo recording, a personal musical effort that would take three years to compete. During that time, his Double-Barrel Blues Show, an hour of acoustic vintage blues, followed by an electrifying night with his band, became a staple at Madam's Organ, the most elite blues club in Washington, DC. He opened solo repeatedly for blues master B.B. King on the east coast. His band and acoustic shows stunned the audiences at Floydfest, and released his forth recording 'Static in the Blood,' a lush R&B recording with roots deep in gospel and blues and elegant guitar work of every hue and shade. The album is a paradise of contemporary styling all done the unmistakable Eli Cook way. Citing influences as diverse as Kid Rock and Jay Z, Eli continued to introduce the blues to the listener of the new century.

Now with the release of Ace, Jack, & King Eli Cook is preparing to conquer the blues world at large, while taking his music to a higher level. In support of the new CD Eli plans to tour in 2011: “I will definitely be touring to promote the new album throughout summer/fall 2011. The album has me excited and I feel certain that I can get just about any audience equally excited."

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