After decades of performing for crowds around the Maryland region, singer-songwriter Brian R. Cooney is readying his second self-produced CD showcasing his original compositions and favorite covers. Brian, a lifelong resident of small town Catonsville, Maryland, has been playing a unique combination of classic rock covers and original songs that blend equal parts folk and rock for years.
One of eight children born to an ambitious Radio City Glee Club Captain, Ed Cooney Sr. and his Rockette wife Lois Richardson Cooney, Brian R. Cooney was never a stranger to music. Growing up, his home was rarely silent. The family often sang harmonies together before bedtime, around the holidays, and in the car on long trips. Informal recordings of family gatherings from Brian's childhood sound more like the work of a celebrated youth choir than a group of "amateur" children.
In the fifth grade, Brian bought his first guitar for five dollars and taught himself to play. As the seven brothers grew into their teenage years, the Cooney house experienced a sonic explosion while each learned to play guitar. "The second floor of our house had a different song and style of music coming from behind each closed bedroom door," Brian recalls.
It was not long before a friendly competition began between Brian and his brothers. While the family often played together, Brian joined his friends Glenn Eliot (Dalmas) and Walter Vanek in forming the band Tugwell in 1971, which helped him to find his own musical identity. In the years that followed, Brian played for church choirs and folk groups in Catonsville and wrote many songs that he began to play in front of modest crowds around town.
While he considers such rock legends and singer-songwriters as Neil Young, America, Cat Stevens, and the Beatles to be among his primary influences, Brian also finds himself constantly inspired by more contemporary acts like Richard Shindell, John Gorka, David Gray, and Bruce Cockburn. This unique combination of styles is what draws many to Brian's work, as his music becomes an easily accessible mix of classic folk and rock music with modern hooks.
Being a husband and father of three has lead to some recurrent themes in Brian's songs, which often focus on relationships with his family, friends, and wife. The lyrics range from thought-provoking and darkly reflective ("Hideaway" follows a lonely youth through the boardwalk of Ocean City) to sincerely romantic ("The Proposal" is a re-recorded version of a song Brian wrote in 1974 before proposing to his wife).
Brian is currently finishing the recording and production of his second full length album to be publicly released. The "Fly Away" CD will feature Brian's soft vocals backed by his own acoustic guitar, piano, and mandolin. When his busy schedule permits a break from recording, Brian occasionally plays with brothers Bob and Denny in Pennsylvania and as a solo act around the region.