Hardworking Citizen Cope on tour with a new album

Toben Shelby

Seemingly always on tour, singer-songwriter Clarence Greenwood -- better known as Citizen Cope -- still manages to produce new albums from time to time, even if he's not getting help from a major label anymore.

His latest, "One Lovely Day" was released Tuesday and is Cope's second album since he formed his own record imprint, Rainwater Recordings. His Anchorage concert on Saturday is the first of 50 he has scheduled through November and marks Moose's Tooth's 16th anniversary.

Lengthy tours are part of how the Brooklyn-based musician built his brand: putting in the legwork and fueling word of mouth. Blending genres like folk, hip-hop and blues, Cope has attracted a diverse audience, but it hasn't resulted in what would be considered a mainstream hit.

He released "The Clarence Greenwood Recordings" and "Every Waking Moment" in 2004 and 2006 before splitting with RCA Records in 2008.

"Basically, the promotion staff did not think I had the kinds of songs they wanted," he explained to Billboard after the breakup with RCA. "I did two records that never even got in the college radio chart or Triple-A (adult album alternative). When your whole stable is 'American Idol,' there's no real swagger to the label."

The switch to his own label hasn't harmed his visibility, as Cope's music has still managed to seep into pop culture. The title track from "One Lovely Day" was featured on the soundtrack for the movie "Battleship," and Cope's music has popped up on TV shows from "Scrubs," "Entourage" and "Sons of Anarchy" to "So You Think You Can Dance." One of his most prominent tunes, "Sideways," was featured on Santana's album "Shaman" and has been covered by Sheryl Crow.

The album switch also didn't subtract from the resources poured into making each album.

"I wanted to record in the same kind of studios, to pay people what I paid them in the past. I didn't want to make a cheap record because it wasn't being funded by a label," he told Richmond.com in 2010 while discussing "The Rainwater LP." "I spent as much money, if not more, on this record. I've always had creative freedom making albums, so that aspect of it was pretty much the same, except I was paying."

But after 10 years of making records, Cope feels he's still learning and improving.

"On my first album, I wasn't really comfortable singing," he said in an interview with Diffuser.fm a few weeks ago. "Even if I felt comfortable with the songs, I don't feel like I was comfortable recording yet -- that takes time, and so does learning how to be a producer and make a record feel like a whole piece of art."

Citizen Cope

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Moose's Tooth

Tickets: $35 (21 and older), beartooththeatre.net


By Toben Shelby
Daily News correspondent