A young man at the age of 26 and with eyes that bear the essence of an old soul that you will lose yourself in by there intensity yet comforted by his humble soft spoken voice. Cole has become one of the most respected Blues and Rock artists in California and soon the United States simply because of his sound, his presence and simply his story of resurection from death itself. Cole started playing Harmonica at age 7. He naturally started playing blues around 11 after getting a hold of a gospel blues album called “The Blues Night” featuring Darrell Mansfield, Glenn Kaiser and Larry Howard. It’s the only album he could listen to simply because his father at the time did not allow secular music in the household. At age 12 he started playing drums in church. His father once a farm equipment auctioneer turned into a world wide minister bringing a spiritual background which you can hear in some of his music. At 14 Cole moved with some of his father’s friends to Nashville, Tennessee. It was there that Cole had be- friend Pat Macdonald an incredible musician that now you could see perform drums with Charlie Daniels. He first started mentoring Cole on drums but noticed something else about Cole. “You were born to play them blues Cole. I think thats what you need to do”. Also another friend came into play in his life during this time. A renowned songwriter named John Hiatt who mentored Cole at a songwriting school in Franklin, Tennessee in the of 1998.
If you really listen to Cole’s music its not just his musicianship that’s world class. It’s his lyrics and his medaphorical genious approach. “The most valid advice I had got from John is how you make the idea of the words fit the sound of the song”. A good example is his new song which you will find on his playlist “Black Widow”. Another is a favorite “Me, Myself and I.” A master musician is one thing and thats important but a good songwriter and a good musician has a great destiny. Cole is nothing short of either. Cole came home to California to live with his mother in 1999. Shortly there after Cole started playing clubs on weekly basis at 15 years of age. It was then that Cole would meet a local legend Rudy Parris a gifted guitarist and singer who has played with the likes of Buck Owens and Hank Williams The Third. Rudy took Cole under his wing helping Cole mold his sound and his musicianship. “I like Rudy because he is always blunt. He will never steer you wrong and he is probably the most gifted musician I have ever met. He’s a musician musician and he will always strive to make you better”.
At seventeen Cole had decided he wanted to try guitar. Cole was a natural and after a period of two years it had become Cole’s main instrument. Cole starting venturing in the styles of Jimi Hendrix, Howlin Wolf and early George Thorogood. Many guitar slingers wind up being copycats of Jimi Hendrix or S.R.V., so Cole in about the fourth year of his guitar playing decided what sound would define him. On the west coast everybody was trying to be Little Walter or S.R.V. Cole put a slide on his finger and it fit. “I got a hold of some Charlie Patton and Bukka White and it was all over. Everybody got into the west coast jump thing or Stevie, but dont take me wrong, I love that stuff but it’s been done a billion times and I wanted to find my own voice”.
“Delta Blues is where its at for me because I am from the country”. In 2005, after a chaotic schedule of playing little hole-in-the-wall places Cole would finally record his first record “Back From The Shadows” produced by Rudy Parris who, at the time, along with his Brother Abel were playing as his backline. If you would like a taste of that perhaps you should sample “Biscuits and Gravy”. On November the 8th, 2005 Cole got the privilege to open for the king of blues at Universal studios in Hollywood among the attendants were artists such as Prince and Guitar Shorty. Also Cole had just found out that he was going to be a father to his now beautiful daughter Tayler Vaughn Fonseca. Everything seemed to paved for Cole future but being an excellent guitarist that he was was not his destiny. No something deeper and more meaningful than just another guitar slinger.
On December 16th 2005 three days past his birthday Cole, Rudy and Abel were playing at home in Visalia at a place called Visalia Brewing Co. Hardly anybody there just a few friends and a small gathering of musicians hanging out celebrating Cole’s and Rudy’s birthday which actually lands on the 16th of December watching Cole and the fellas tear it up. Little did everybody know that it would be the very last night Cole would play his white 56 Stratocaster. Later that night Cole was riding as a passenger in a car with three other friends on their way home. The driver had decided to engage in reckless driving in an attempt to pull a drift around a curve at a chaotic speed over 100 M.P.H. He had lost control of the car and hit a couple of large boulders ejecting Cole out of the back window. The driver had suffered a fatality and the two other passengers suffered minor injuries. Cole severely injured with two broken legs and compound fractures, a shattered pelvis and a complete avulsion to the spine leaving him with paralysis to the left arm. Cole was so mangled the E.M.T.’s had to resuscitate him. Cole had spent almost three months in the hospital. It took a month to for the doctors to figure out what was in store for Cole. That he would have more scars than the average man, that he would never play guitar again. Cole sat in darkness for a year in depression watching his guitar collect dust. Wondering if he would ever be the same or if he would ever feel like a man ever again. Through alot of support from friends, family and fellow musicians, Cole was trying to figure out how to play again. The day his daughter was born on July 16th 2006 Cole knew he had to do something. “I thought one of these days she’s going to be a young woman and ask me, ‘Daddy why did you quit? How come you gave up?’ Thats a message I would never want to send her. To see me as a failure or to give up because of the obstacles life will throw at you? I’ll die first.”
Cole immediatley started thinking of ways to play again but how to compete with yesterday. You dont… You become something else. A man with a message of hope with a pen and a paper, your heart that bears the scars of an old soul, a voice that can howl like the lonesome wolf crying at night and breath that breathes fire rumbling the very ground you stand on as you hear that blues harmonica tornadoe that will bring the devil himself to his knees. In 2007 Cole came back with conviction and a story to tell. Joined by an old friend a guitar titan A.C. Myles, Phil Santellan on Bass who now plays for Mofo Party Band formed the band “Cole Fonseca and the Rattlers”. In the spring of 2007 Cole had stepped into the studio recording his fourth album “Old Soul” consisting of a great enturouge of great artists such as A.C. Myles with his sound on the slide guitar playing fierce yet smooth like a bottle of Southern Comfort, Phil Santellan, an old friend that Cole had grown up with, laying down the bass and Daniel Burt who had helped produced the album and playing drums and the Rhodes on his record. Also J.D. Goodwin a wild rockabilly guitarist bringing along that old school 50’s vintage sound and stand up bass player Cobra Finney to show another side of Cole. “Old Soul” was a stepping stone and the songs really were finished as they were recording them. Among these songs was a masterpiece that was done in one take, the first take and the only take “Me, Myself and I”. It was an idea that Cole had written up on the way to the studio in his brother’s truck. Just three chords, the song and the meaning and heart in Coles voice. His solo sounds like a cry for help. He made the the harp weep itself as Cole felt this song so much he teared up a little just recording it. “Its how I felt at the time”. “Sometimes you are in the studio and it takes some work to make the magic happen and sometimes it just shows up.” J.D.’S chording and approach with his Gretch and Bigsby was nothing short of majestic. It was this song that got Cole inducted into “The Official Blues Hall of Fame” July 7th, 2007 as an ambassador to the State of California.
A few weeks later on July 21st Cole had opened for Kenny Wayne Shepherd at home at the Visalia Fox Theatre. His hom town hadn’t seen Cole perform since his accident and just a month he had a CD release party that was an absolute failure due to nobody showing up. The world can be a very cold place sometimes. “No one showed up I think simply because I had a paralyzed arm. It’s really difficult to sell yourself when people think your a freak show.” The show with Kenny Wayne was my chance to show my town that crippled is a state of mind and I’m not a cripple.” That night was one to remember as Cole, A.C., Phil and Gabriel Riley lit the place on fire. The crowd stood up after every song applauding and encoring screaming Cole’s name. Cole’s Harmonica playing was fierce and powerful, his voice full of conviction and confident. As Cole walked back stage Kenny wayne said to him, “You’re going to be someone I’ll never forget because that was one of the best openers I’ve ever had to follow.”
Now here in 2009 Cole is focused on getting a label and recording awesome music for the masses. You can listen to his new material such as “Black Widow” ” Trainwrecked” or ” Feel like Breaking the Law”. Catch him live and spread the word about this bluesman and his awesome testimony. The Man who fought death itself and won.
Edited by Encephalon on 31 May 2010, 03:00
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