Notorious musician, Clarence Greenwood, better known as “Citizen Cope,” will help North Jersey’s Wellmont Theater close out 2019, with what’s expected to be a riveting performance on Saturday, Dec. 28 at 8 p.m. The show’s set to “bend” genres and will find Cope performing his greatest hits and new songs from his latest album, “Heroin & Helicopters.”
Seven years in the making, “Heroin & Helicopters” is an inward and lyrical look at modern American culture – shifting from blues and soul, to country and rock. Marked by tracks such as “Justice,” “War” and “Duck Confit,” the album, released off Cope’s Rainwater Recordings, is an immersive and “respectful” project – honoring trailblazers who’ve laid the groundwork for popular music. Cope, also known for hits like “Let the Drummer Kick It,” “Bullet & A Target,” “Son’s Gonna Rise” and “Pablo Picasso,” has collaborated with the likes of Carlos Santana, Dido, Pharoahe Monch and Richie Havens.
On his latest project, Cope is open, saying “it was time” for a new record, following a period away from the studio to raise his daughter. Cope has built an entire career on trusting his gut and following his muse, and if his new album, “Heroin & Helicopters,” is any indication, his instincts are sharper now than ever before.
As technically innovative as it is emotionally resonant, the record arrives at a uniquely challenging moment in modern American culture, when profound political polarization and social divisions seem to grow deeper by the day. Rather than dwell on our differences, though, Cope tunes in to what unites us here, drawing on everything from Chuck Brown and The Beatles to Randy Newman and Bill Withers, aiming his unique brand of urban‑folk inwards to reflect on the personal journeys we all undertake to embrace ourselves despite our flaws.
“I think we’re all on a mission to find some inner peace,” he reflects. “We’re all going towards this collective consciousness, and even though it’s dark right now, I believe we’re going to reach that place together. Peace and harmony and understanding, that’s how you combat the darkness, and that’s what this record is all about.”
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“Heroin & Helicopters” actually draws its title from a warning collaborator Carlos Santana shared with Cope backstage at The Fillmore: “Stay away from the two Hs, Heroin and Helicopters,” he said, because they all too often prove fatal for musicians and celebrities. The message resonated with Cope, who saw parallels with a broader culture fixated on shortcuts over self‑improvement, on mass production over quality, on greed over empathy.
Overall, Cope’s second album (2004), “The Clarence Greenwood Recordings,” which followed his self-titled debut (2002), went on to sell 700,000 copies and opened the doors to film and television, with tracks appearing in “Entourage,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “Alpha Dog” and more. He cracked the Billboard 200 for the first time with 2006’s “Every Waking Moment,” and then self-released 2010’s “The Rainwater LP” and 2012’s “One Lovely Day,” his highest charting album to date.
For more information on Citizen Cope’s upcoming performance at the Wellmont, head to: https://wellmonttheater.com/shows/citizen-cope-2/.
The Wellmont Theater is located at 5 Seymour St., Montclair, NJ, 07042.