Joe Cotton has been involved in music, almost, his entire life. “I can remember singing, Hard Day’s Night, in our driveway, in Cherry Hill, NJ, long before I even knew what a Beatle was.” Apparently, their pop sensibility left an impression.
In grammar school, it was the clarinet, which later led to the saxophone and an interesting opportunity to try almost all the woodwind instruments. But, the guitar was rock and roll, and in high school, playing in a rock and roll band, was the thing to do.
There were many band names. Some remembered; SNAFU, The Brats and lots of others lost to their own poor staying power. The one thing that did stick, was an immediate desire to play original material. There were countless rehearsals, jamming to and, casually, learning all the songs they loved. However, the most vivid memory is the day he walked into the kitchen in the home they were rehearsing in, to find his bandmates and friends, had come up with a perfect little song, which stills plays in his head. Within weeks, he had written his first tune and, it’s been that way since. By the way, that first song, still pops up on set lists, to this day.
The influences came from everywhere. The songwriting and harmonies of the, aforementioned Beatles and the heavy thump of Black Sabbath. Everything Neil Young put out side by side with Aerosmith’s catalog. The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Led Zeppelin and The Black Crowes, all live there too. If it passed by his ears, it was processed and stored.
Two highlights of Joe’s musical career came in the form of two close friends. Both, gifted, singer/songwriters, and both generous with their craft.
Playing for years with Erron Geer in BeggarmanThief as a guitar player and vocalist gave him an opportunity to write for that band, as well. “Erron’s songwriting is so good, I still check my own work against his stuff.” In fact, Joe would tell you that Erron is one of his favorite songwriters and, The Joe Cotton Band covers Erron’s material.
In the Maggie Salzberg Band, he learned the importance of the Benevolent Dictator. A part he’s played ever since creating The Joe Cotton Band. Maggie knew what she wanted for her material and, from her players. As the bass player in this group, Joe was given all the room and opportunity to grow with and influence the songs, just as the rest of the players were. At the same time, Maggie ran a tight ship and, the end results were hers to savor, as everyone rose to the occasion.
So, who the hell is Joe Cotton? For all of you that know me already and, all of you I have yet to meet, I am Steve Martel. And, I am Joe Cotton. To be truthful, Joe came first. But I didn’t meet him until much later. As it turns out, Joe arrived with perfect timing! (please enjoy that musical double entendre) And, since we’re at this point in our little story, I’ll let you know that I’ve been writing Joe’s bio, all along. I suppose I’ve been writing it my whole life!
Both, Erron and Maggie had been encouraging me to write more and, front my own project. I was becoming more confident with my vocals and, thanks to both of them, better at songwriting. I just needed a good band name………..
Like a lot of kids with older parents, I had the pleasure of spending my father’s final years, with him under our roof. After he passed, I was cleaning out his things, when I found a copy of my original birth certificate. It opened with the name, Joseph Michael Cotton on it. I had always known I was adopted. I had no idea that I had a great band name. Plus, it kinda felt good to give this boy a life, after all.
It was easy to put a band together. Almost, too easy. All of my friends were top shelf, pro players. They all enjoyed hanging out at my rehearsal space, which gave us plenty of time to get to know each other musically. They were all, in other bands. The Joe Cotton Band became the band that everybody, and nobody, was in. No one ever quits and, once you’re in, you’re in for life.
In 2017 I was introduced to, music industry attorney, Richard Warren Rappaport. He became my biggest fan and, was more passionate and positive about my career than anyone I had met thus far. Sadly, Richard passed away in December of that same year and I miss him every day. Just before he left, he introduced me to my future and I’m sure he’s still grinning about it.
Richard took me to meet with Record Producer, Rudy Perez (Christina Aguilera, Marc Anthony) who in turn, brought me to his incredibly talented son and Producer, Chris Price (Emitt Rhodes, Jeffrey Gaines). With Chris and the brilliant cast of characters he is surrounded by, I’ll be releasing the first Joe Cotton Band album, later this year.