Besides being a kick-ass banjo player, guitarist, singer, leather artisan, and member of the acoustic punk-blues band The Devil Makes Three, Cooper McBean is a Modern Nomad. Although he insists that having a “permanent residence” may disqualify him, a quick glance at the band’s tour schedule begs to differ. He spends more than half his time on the road, touring throughout North America and Europe.
Keeping in touch with friends and family is a challenge with his schedule, and he doesn’t take those relationships for granted.
“Digital technology has been huge in this regard. Being able to send messages all over the world instantly has done wonders for maintaining personal relationships while traveling. I spend a whole lot of time poking at my phone, but I also really like to write letters the old fashioned way!”
McBean has been playing music since his junior high in southern Vermont, where he was inspired by the banjo players of the 1920s and 30s, as well as country singers like Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings. He is largely self-taught and sure that “a really good banjo player” would be unimpressed with his technique. No matter, though, since McBean and his bandmates, Lucia Turino and Pete Bernhard, have created a unique sound that make them a favorite on the festival and club circuit.
In between shows, McBean concentrates on creating custom leather goods. His belts and wallets feature intricate, hand-tooled designs. McBean’s passion for bringing joy to others comes through in even the most casual encounter. Don’t let the ear gauges and tattoos fool you: He is a warm, affable guy who doesn’t hesitate to talk with fans, shake hands and pose for pictures.
We asked McBean to share advice for novice Modern Nomads, he simply says:
“Take care of your body and your brains as best you can. Get plenty of sleep, eat right, try to find some alone time if possible. Nothing is worse than being sick or crazy on the road. Pack plenty of clean socks, and don’t forget to call home. A dry bag will keep your dirty laundry from stinking up the clean. Don’t take any wooden nickels.”
Words by Nomad Life ambassador: Laura Shotzbarger