JOE COCO is an American performer, songwriter, singer and guitarist. He has performed extensively throughout the United States since 1970, from New York City’s Folk City, to L.A.’s famous Troubador. With infectious energy, he creates poignant, often satirical images with a clear, strong, emotive voice. A prolific songwriter, (575 songs) and 32 albums since 1979, many of his songs reflect a strong social conscience. A native of Passaic, New Jersey, Joe has roots in Arizona where he lived for eleven years and in Italy for six years. Joe has returned to Jersey performing montly in Greenwich Village clubs such as The Back Fence and Baggott Inn.
In 1998-99, Joe was in the Italian national production of the rock of opera TOMMY by the Who, playing harmonica on "Eyesight To The Blind" while acting and singing in 10 choral parts. The cast and crew of 40 appeared in 22 cities in 98 performances. Directed by Massimo Piparo, Planet Musical has distinguished itself by presenting the first rock operas in Italy, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita.
Between 1992 through 1996, Coco lived in Portugal and Sicily. During this time he headlined concerts for Fontella Bass ("Rescue Me"), Mario Venuti and Gianni Gebbia in Milazzo and Messina. In festivals sponsored by L’Arci Crossroads Club he has shared bills with Italian blues luminaries Fabio Treves (Father of the Blues in Italy), Nick Becattini, Herbie Goins, and Linda Wesley. For the Capo d' Orlando Blues Festival in 1994 he headlined with J. Monque'd and in 2001, the Alcamo Blues Festival opening for Keb Mo with Michele Lotta's King Biscuit Time Band.
Opening for Belgium’s Perry Rose in Basel, Switzerland in November 1995 led to a four night engagement in March 1996 with partner Michele Lotta (harmonica & guitar), in Europe’s most famous ATLANTIS CLUB. Coco’s music combines personal narratives with a passionate blues drive. He has developed a cross-over blues and country style guitar approach of tight rhythmic patterns while flat or finger picking melody with bass lines. Highlighted is his slide guitar playing with rapid finger picking and a razor sharp attack. Joe’s voice has been likened to James Taylor's with a Van Morrison edge.
Coco’s first success came in 1978 while opening concerts for B.B.King and Commander Cody in Flagstaff and Phoenix, Arizona. This led to his first album NEVER SATISFIED which brought him to the attention of Charles Kopelman’s Entertainment Company in New York where his songs were pitched to Barbra Streisand, Judy Collins, Loretta Lynn, and Glen Campbell. Recording with Warner Bros. Music in New York City for three years in the eighties, Coco toured the college concert circuit opening for John Hammond, James Cotton, and Leon Redbone.
In Messina, Sicily, summer of 1996, Coco composed BLUES HOUSE - A BLUES OPERA. Among the first blues operas ever written, the 27 songs were recorded with Michele Lotta and released in 1997. The double LP is in the prestigious archive collections of the W.C. Handy Foundation, Memphis; Folklife Center of the Smithsonian, Washington D.C.; The Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland; Internation House of Blues Foundation, Boston; San Francisco Public Library and Broadcast Music Inc.,Nashville.
While living in Europe between 1992 into 1997 Coco released 14 albums, with collabotator Michele Lotta (see underDiscography page). His songs during this period are about rediscovering his Sicilian roots. Joe has been returning to Sicily each last summer appearing in Festivals while recording these recent CD's SCARLET ROAD, VIRGIN WOOD 2003-4; EMERALD CROWN, INCANDESCENT 2002; SYMBOLS OF POWER, SOUND OF THE SUN 2001; and SURRENDER, STREETS OF LIGHT 2000.
Among other albums, AZ-THE BALLADS, a two volume set FROM 1989, featured songs about culture shock, and coming of age. They reflect Joe's eleven years as a resident of the Southwest. His return to Arizona in 1989 led to a reunion LP with Luis Tomas, entitled THE THINGS THAT BIND US, which was spiced with R&B/Jazz compositions which recalled their 1984 instrumental work, SOLAR ECLIPSE AND A NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST. Pecho, a single from SOLAR ECLIPSE was aired nationally on the video station VH1 in 1986. Three other instrumental albums reflecting Coco’s melodic, atmospheric new age jazz accompany his painting and drawing series; IF WALLS COULD SPEAK, 1994, SOUND IMAGE/ FALLS RIVER, 1986 (with Polar Levine), and FOLIAGE, 1982.
Having composed over 575 songs since 1972, Joe is amoung few musicians combining the fine arts with his musical accomplishments. With a Master of Fine Arts from Rutgers University 1986, Coco has had 51 solo exhibitions. With over 400 works in over 225 public and private collections, Joe's art is represented in MOMA, San Francisco, The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome, and Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon. (For more information on the art of Joseph Coco see Paintings page).
KEB MO - Alcamo Blues Festival July 2001 w/ King Biscuit Time Band
CHICAGO's BIG TIME SARAH - Capo d' Orlando Blues Festival August 2001
JOE JENKINS - Eco Jazz & Blues Festival Reggio Calabria, Italy w/Michele Lotta August 1998
FONTELLA BASS - Brass Group Concert Series Messina, Sicily w/M. Lotta December 1995
PERRY ROSE - Atlantis Club Basil, Switzerland November 1995
MARIO VENUTI & GIANNI GEBBIA - Milazzo Jazz Festival Sicily August 1993
COMMANDER CODY - Dooley's Tempe, AZ w/Alex Weiss November 1978
B.B. KING - Sunken Ship Flagstaff, AZ w/Alex Weiss March 1978
CONCERTS & FESTIVALS IN EUROPE
SOLO & with MICHELE LOTTA
MONTE DI PIETA' - Messina, July 2002
ESTATE MESSINESE - S.Maria Alemanna Church - Messina, August 2001
WOMEN’S DAY - Gazzi Jail - Messina, Sicily March ‘99
ECO JAZZ - Reggio Calabria August '98
REGIONAL TOURS SICILY - Sicily, July/August 1997 & ‘98
WINTER BLUES FESTIVAL - Alcamo, Sicily December ’96
CAPO D'ORLANDO BLUES FEST. - Capo D’Orlando, Sicily August ’96
VOX VOCI - Asti (Torino), Italy November ’96
CLUB CANTU' 132 - Cantù (Como), Italy October ’96
LA TRACE - Lousanne, Switzerland October ’96
ATLANTIS CLUB - Basel, Switzerland March’96 & November ’95
ITALIAN TOUR - Headlining for the Brass Group : PALERMO, TRAPANI
VITTORIA, CATANIA, MILAZZO, MESSINA, ROMA Summer/Fall 1993
NATO BASES - Concerts in: LA MADDELENA (Sardegna); BAGNOLI (Napoli)
SIGONELLA 1994 & 95; AVIANO, VICENZA, GHEDDI 1996.
SELECTED FEATURED CONCERTS SOLO
BACK FENCE - New York, NY monthly dates 2001 to the present
ROOTS HOUSE - Boston, MA June 2003 House Concert
RAUBSVILLE INN - Easton, PA Sept. 2003
CAFÉ PARADISO – Eugene, Oregon Aug. ‘99
SIERRA NEVADA COLLEGE - Oct. 2001; Oct.-Dec. 1997 – Feb ‘98
PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH - Sausalito, CA July ‘97
KELLY'S VILLAGE WEST - Greenwich Village NY,NY April ’88 Aug. ’87
FOLK CITY - NY, NY Aug. 1972, ‘74, ’76
Coco / Weiss Reunion
SICILIAN TOUR - July/August ’94 - 22 Dates in Sicily
Headlining the Capo d’Orlando Blues Festival
NORTHERN ARIZONA TOUR - August ’91
w/ Luis Tomas PINES FESTIVAL - Flagstaff, AZ Aug ’92
THEATRE - Sheridan, WY June ’91
NATIONAL TOUR – ITALY
"Tommy" by The Who – Italian Company Planet Musical/Teatro Munizione July
Principle Soloist – singer/harmonica singing "Eyesight To The Blind" including 10 acting/choral parts.
98 performances in 22 cities.
BACK LINE BIO OF SELECTED COLLEGE CONCERTS
1990-89 LP TOUR - AZ-THE BALLADS Phoenix and Northern Arizona
1986 LP TOUR - SOLAR ECLIPSE AND A NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST LP/Video Promo
* VHI-U68-TV National Syndication - Sept.86 Rotation Title:PECHO
College Concerts 1983 (Spring 28 Shows - Autumn 6 Shows) Mid-Atlantic States
Opening For: JAMES COTTON - SUNY Albany LEON REDBONE – P.Smith College,NY
College Concerts 1982 (Spring 23 Shows - Autumn 15 Shows) Tri-State Area
Opening For: JOHN HAMMOND - Glassborro, NJ THE ROCHES - SVA, NY, NY
1980 Album Tour NEVER SATISFIED: Troubador Los Angeles,CA August