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You can tell: Clarence Greenwood is a sloucher.
He lopes, slides, and sways with the ease of a man who has nowhere to go. Greenwood, known to fans as Citizen Cope, projects a half-lidded weariness onto his music, a fusion of blues, reggae and hip-hop made for dorm rooms and coffeehouses. It’s a soundtrack for watching freight trains pass. It might as well come packaged with American Spirits. It is, above all, easy on the ears.
So how did this guy end up in Dewey Beach?
Truth is, the Tuesday, June 9 show was Cope’s second in Dewey. When I arrived, the cheap tickets crowd wrapped around the Bottle & Cork. I didn’t think Cope had much of a following among Dewey’s frattish summer population, but I was wrong – many sported Cope-wear. No one seemed lost, misplaced or mislead into coming to a Citizen Cope show.
The Bottle & Cork is a rock and roll bar – so says its tagline, so affirms its history. Even burnt-out 90s rockers like Everclear seem to find a second wind at the Cork, shredding like it was 1999 and “Wonderful” was on TRL. When I saw alt-country legends Old 97s last year, they swaggered onto the stage and played like hell until the last song. It’s a loud venue, a bar where the ceiling is the sky and spilled liquor swirls into a metal drain socketed in the concrete floor. Needless to say, it ain’t a coffee shop.
Cope isn’t a rock god. He isn’t Rhett Miller. He’s a lesser Bob Dylan with an urban sensibility, a knack for observation and a penchant for narrative in his lyrics. He doesn’t gel with Dewey Beach, I thought. He’s too considerate, too kind, too slow. But the crowd picked up on something I didn’t. They were attuned to the throbbing baseline of “Hurricane Waters.” They dipped and bobbed along with “Let The Drummer Kick.” Mine was the minority opinion. Everyone else was in Cope’s pocket, communicating fully with his laconic sway, his sleepy eyes.
Eventually, the sharp aroma of marijuana cut the air. If I wasn’t having fun, I concluded, that was my own damn fault. Citizen Cope may be mom-rock, but he pleased a ton of fans in a territory typically reserved for ex-stars like Sugary Ray, farmed out to seasonal pasture in a resort town. Cope is current, Cope is relevant. When he smiled his polite little smile, pressed his hands together and bowed, the audience roared.