Bluesman R.L. Cole Is Ready to Shine
by Adam Perry for Denver Westword
Thirty-year-old Denver bluesman Robert Louis Cole grew up in Manitou Springs in the late ’80s and ’90s before leaving home to wander the roads of America as a musician and all-around rambler. He landed in Denver a decade ago because it was “the biggest piece of concrete next to the piece of concrete I grew up on,” he says. Now he lives in the Baker neighborhood, where he’s part of one of Denver’s most thriving music scenes.
Cole, who works as a line cook at Sputnik, has the look of a man who has weathered more than a few street fights. He has a small frame and a booming voice — one that could have come straight from the Mississippi Delta.
A veteran of bawdy jazz-punk act A. Tom Collins, Cole released his debut full-length album, Money for the Milkman, in the summer of 2017, but he’s been a favorite among Colorado songwriters since releasing his brooding Long Darkness of the Night EP in 2013 and Live From Cherryvale, an epic recording of a Boulder house concert, in 2015.
Money for the Milkman marries Cole’s Skip James roots with a wicked Tom Waits weirdness, all backed by a band that can groove, rock and swing.
“It was a nice transitional record, going from lo-fi singer-songwriter stuff to a little bit of a bigger sound, and it’s been good to transition into our new, much more rock-and-roll material,” explains Cole. “Each song is, in its own way, a little microcosm of one little aspect of my wheelhouse, as well as little snippets of different influences ranging from Black Sabbath to Bill Callahan and back and forth across the universe.”