Bob Dylan doppleganger on the streets of Asheville

When Preston Cooper sings, people stop to listen.

That’s because Cooper seems to channel Bob Dylan’s voice and manner.

Uncanny at first listen, his performances are eerily on target. Asheville’s full of buskers who play a mix of originals and cover tunes, but Cooper stands apart in his obsession: With very rare exceptions, he is all Dylan, all the time. And the crowds that gather around him seem satisfied — if sometimes mystified — by the faithfulness of his renditions.

A 21-year-old from Rutherfordton who came to Asheville for college in 2005 but now devotes his energies to playing music, Cooper is catching ears and turning heads. He’s also got people asking: How does he do it? Why does he do it? And does he have any other tricks up his sleeve?

Click here to read our full interview with Cooper, who is our Askville feature this week. With Askville, we try to profile interesting locals, and we need your help. Click here to read past Askvilles. And please let us know who you’d like to see us spotlight.

Click on the image below to watch Cooper perform “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

 

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6 thoughts on “Bob Dylan doppleganger on the streets of Asheville

  1. Steve

    Preston grew up playing in my basement with my kids. I’m proud of him!

  2. Bubba

    Preston grew up playing music in my basement with my kids. I’m proud of him!

  3. Morgan Troy Neely

    Mr. Bugg,

    I found your comment to be thoughtless and unecessary, if slightly clever. At no point does the MX hype Preston as Asheville’s greatest musician; they do, however, provide a balanced introduction to an insightful interview with him. Preston is reflective and even admits to sometimes feeling like a “copy cat,” but the way he describes interpreting Dylan is what I would imagine most original artists strive to achieve: “I try to hold the action in my mind of the sentence that I’m saying … to really indicate the image more precisely.” Preston seeks to inhabit the song, “shape the words,” and “transcend mimicry into … rhapsody.” This is admirable, artistic, and I see no reason to deride it.

  4. tandy solomon

    Check out Preston Cooper and hit his tip jar, hard!

    Although this piece was published last month — I figured this was the best place to share a wonderful experience I had last night.

    I should start by saying that if you want great music at a social event for a very reasonable fee, reach out to this man.

    A couple of months back, my friend Andrew and I had plans for a movie. Instead, he burst into my house like he’d just seen God and said, “We need to leave, right now; forget the movie. There’s a guy busking outside of Malaprops who is AMAZING. He does Dylan. He does Dylan in perfect rendition but he sounds better. He’s the best street musician I’ve ever seen in Asheville. Let’s go see him!”

    But five minutes later, the Dylan man had apparently left the building; we missed him.

    So yesterday was Andrew’s birthday and some of us were gathering at his favorite haunt, the Chocolate Lounge. I was walking into Greenlife earlier in the day and WHO should I see but PRESTON COOPER, the Dylan man! (I only reconized him because of this nice piece of yours, Jason.)

    I asked if he had plans, and wondered if he might drop by to play a song for a small fee. He was SO gracious and generous and ended up playing an entire set at the Chocolate Lounge for everyone present. It was an extraordinary kindness, made Andrew’s night, and the rest of ours as well.

    So thanks for Preston Cooper; may he have great success as a musician (his original music was also wonderful).
    And thanks, too, to the Chocolate Lounge for being so accomodating!

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