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Dave Cope and The Sass Set to Release 'Pied Piper'

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The album kicks off with the title track, finding Cope alone with his acoustic guitar ruminating on conspiracy theorists.

Dave Cope and The Sass Set to Release 'Pied Piper'

Led by multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and visual artist, Dave Cope, Dave Cope and The Sass will release their second full length recording, Pied Piper, on August 21st. Much of the album was written and recorded at home during quarantine by Cope, and the subject matter tackles our current political climate, social unrest, romantic entanglements, and mysticism. A return to the folk and singer-songwriter style of his earliest output, Pied Piper is the ethereal bridge from the band's eponymous debut to their third AM Gold, pop-rock album due out later this year.

"Writing in the folk and singer-songwriter realm has always felt like a very personal and sacred process," says Cope. "More so than writing rock, power pop, new wave etc. In some ways it's easier for me to write like this as it comes from a place of reflection and honest soul searching. At the same time, and perhaps for the same reason, it's sometimes more challenging to be inspired to write this way than to bang out a power pop tune. I guess it depends on the day, the mood I'm in and the situational factors such as recent events or persistent memories."

The album kicks off with the title track, finding Cope alone with his acoustic guitar ruminating on conspiracy theorists who have adopted reckless theories as political truths.

"Pied Piper' is about the QAnon phenomenon, how it led and continues to lead so many Americans astray," explains Cope. "While the initial versions of the song were a bit more obvious in their relation to the QAnon situation, I decided to veil the lyric in a bit of surrealism so as not to confine the song to a specific place and time. There is also something that stretched beyond the realm of Q in the lyric, something relating to how we are all led astray by unreliable sources on the internet that feed our preconceived prejudices, leading us to say and do things we may one day regret."

On "Jerusalem, Jerusalem," Cope took his inspiration from a "fascinating book of the same name by James Carroll. If the Pied Piper of QAnon, media misinformation and political/cultural bias is the messenger, then Jerusalem -- its historical significance as a beacon of hope, a font of despair, a source of countless idealized dreams and a flashpoint of even more nightmarish conflicts -- is the message," says the songwriter.

"Docklands" finds Cope fleshing out the arrangement with synths, strings, and percussion and its story is taken from tales the singer's English-born father would share about his homeland. "My father would tell me about a rough part of London known as the Docklands," he says. "That name always stuck with me. It seemed the perfect title and metaphorical focus for this song which is both a message of union solidarity against the greedy big boss and a song in line with the Black Lives Matter movement and the struggle for civil rights. There's also a little bit of On the Waterfront in there thrown in for good measure."

"The Party of Lincoln' is a lyrically bitter indictment of the modern-day republican party," says Cope of his Dylan inspired folk tune. "It laments what, in my mind, is the ultimate fall from grace, a complete 180 from a group's original ethos and a turn towards the backward philosophy and moral delinquency of its enemies. It can be summed up with the following lyric: The Party of Lincoln is sinking in avarice, ignorance, hate and untruth. It's changed, I've been thinkin', from the Party of Lincoln to the party of John Wilkes Booth. This strongly worded statement, highlighting my own feelings that the Republican Party seems philosophically more closely related to the Democratic Party of the Confederacy, reflects my own extreme frustration with Donald Trump's presidency, Mitch McConnel's time in the Senate and countless other examples of what I feel to be a betrayal of the ideals of democracy that this country espouses."

The gentle, troubadour ballad, 'Ways of Love' explores both the idealization and demonization of the sacred feminine aspects of love. "I was listening to Roy Harper a bunch at the time of this song's creation and wanted this song to have a long melodic arc, rising and falling like the hopes and disappointments of a passionate love affair," explains the singer.

The bluesy, harmonica and guitar drenched 'Come One Of These Mornings' is "one part a rebuke of a cruel lover and one part excoriation of American slavery and the exploitation of black and brown people throughout this country's history," says Cope.

On 'Rosalina,' Cope's high lonesome, cowboy country, love songs song embraces longing to be far away with someone the singer once idealized. Of the song, he says, "the chorus ends with a question that sums up this feeling nicely: 'señorita, is there a rose in your heart left for me?"

In addition to his output for his personal projects, Cope also contributes songs for local theater companies in Philadelphia. "Quintessence Theatre Group was set to put on this late medieval Spanish morality play, The Great Theatre of The World by Pedro Calderon de la Barca, in an outdoor setting at the height of the pandemic," shares the songwriter. "Due to the risks involved and the contagiousness of Covid they had to halt production and cancel performances but not before I had composed all of the music for the play. This song occurs at the beginning of the play and is kind of a call for people of all sorts to come bear witness to the play, where characters like Beauty, the Rich Man, the Peasant, and the Beggar are observed and judged for their actions in this world in hopes of finding a home in the next. For this song the director asked that I channel the sound of Jethro Tull, which I did, perhaps a little too well?"

Diving into his interest in mysticism, Cope offers 'Sheikh San'an' towards the end of the album. "This song is an epic new take on a story from the poem The Conference of Birds, written by Persian Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar in 1177 CE," he says. "It tells the story of a spiritually devout man who surrenders his beliefs in pursuit of the love of a beautiful woman who ends up betraying him and breaking his heart. Later the woman is racked with guilt over her actions and journeys far and wide to seek the man's forgiveness. In this version I provide a happy ending, though the conclusion is a bit more nebulous in the original. The main idea to take away from this song is that love makes you do crazy things but in the end the lover is the only person who's really in their right mind."

For 'To A Dreamer,' Cope dug into some of his older work and revamped this thematic match to include on Pied Piper. "It could be construed as a description of someone who dances through life, is open and tries to make the world a better place through creation and love," says the songwriter. "The word dreamer also carries some political weight at this point, hinting at The American Dream, whatever that means at this point. But if we think of the dream as an illusion or a falsity it becomes a more positive interpretation, one that flies in the face of the Pied Piper and Q, intoxicating the children with the music of 'death masked as life masked as truth" - a line from the closing track, the reprise of the 'Pied Piper' theme song which closes out the LP.

"I would like listeners to come away with a thirst to seek out new sounds and ideas and to be mindful of what they are taught or told to believe, to question and wonder and dream and to be inspired to create new things," says the songwriter of his new offering with Dave Cope and The Sass. "There is a bit of mysticism to Pied Piper that reflects my interest in Kabbalah, Gnosticism and Sufism. I hope that comes through a bit and inspires the listener to dig deeper, start small and do good."

Based in Philadelphia and formed in 2019 by Dave Cope, Ethan Rider and Fred Berman, Dave Cope and the Sass delve into the past and bring out songs that are fresh and timeless with nods to their influences including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who and The Move. The band incorporates elements of golden age rock, pop, psychedelia, and folk music into their distinct sound.

"The Philadelphia music scene is made up of down to earth and loyal creators," enthuses Cope. "There is a great sense of comraderie here. The other night Sarah (my fiancée) and I went to our first Live Band Karaoke since the pandemic started. There was so much good energy on that stage with the band, Pat Finnerty, Pat Berkery and Luke Rinz (visiting with his girlfriend, my great friend and bandmate from my former group Fantasy Square Garden, Ali Wadsworth). Just seeing all the young folks getting on stage and singing their hearts out to the loving cheers of the crowd made me so happy and proud to be a part of this city and its rich community of artists."

Dave Cope and The Sass will be playing select dates throughout 2021 in support of Pied Piper and its subsequent releases.


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