Cooper likes ability to interact in ‘different way’

Friday, September 9, 2011, Vol. 35, No. 36
By Tim Ghianni

Eric Brace and Peter Cooper perform on Stageit.

World-acclaimed songwriter Don Schlitz’s enthusiasm for Stageit and his confidence in its possibilities are really all it took to get Eric Brace and Peter Cooper interested in broadcasting their own shows.

“No. 1, Don Schlitz was enthusiastic about it,” Cooper says when asked why he and Brace began staging their shows a few months ago. “Things Don is enthusiastic about tend to be good ideas.”

Schlitz happily admits to having enlisted Brace and Cooper into the roster of artists who use Stageit.

“They put on a real good show,” he says, noting that the two who blend Everly Brothers-style harmonies with Tom T. Hall sensibilities do a lot more interacting with the audience than he does.

Schlitz doesn’t try to keep up with the chat room function while he’s performing. He says his eyesight is a hindrance, but he also just likes to keep on playing. Brace and Cooper try to interact with the audience, taking requests for example for everything from their own work to those of artists they admire.

Last week, for example, they performed requests for their own “Big Steve,” as well as John Hiatt’s “Train to Birmingham” and Kevin Gordon’s “Down to the Well.”

Cooper, who also writes a music column for The Tennessean, says the platform allows the duo to sample new material for their fan base. Keeping in touch with those fans, he says, is the most important aspect of Stageit. Yes, he and Brace make money, though the take varies from week to week. That money is secondary.

“We tour most weekends, but there are some places where you tour and you don’t get to go back for awhile, like Europe and Alaska,” Cooper says. “This is a way for us to keep in touch with people in those places.

“You feel like you get to visit with people in a different way.”

Most shows take place from the “Red Beet Bunker” (Brace’s Red Beet label’s East Nashville offices), but the two have broadcast from Santa Fe, N.M., and Hot Springs, Ark., when they’ve been on the road.

The setup takes 10 minutes. “It’s a portable show,” Cooper says. “We use a couple of really good microphones and have those going into a little mixing board and into the computer, and we have a little clip-on camera.”

While most shows are scheduled for a half-hour, they are allowed to stretch out to 50 minutes.

“They allow an encore,” Cooper says with a laugh. “We can’t hear anyone clapping, so we assume they are. We never get that at a real show.”