The music man of McCall

Idaho Life: The music man of McCall.

MCCALL - Summer in the city of McCall, where the population swells well above its normal number of 3,000.

But you can still get an ice cream, you can still get around town in a UTV, and you can still get a haircut for $18 from the only barber in town.

"There's a lot of hair places but I'm the only barber," says Jamie Cope.

Jamie's Barber Shop has only been in place for 10 years.

But Jamie Cope, its owner and operator, considers himself a long-time citizen, having moved to McCall in 1977.

"And that was 40 years ago," he says with a smile.

As fulfilling as it seems now cutting hair wasn't the dream job Jamie focused on 40 years ago.

"Being the town barber?" he asks."Never!"

You can get a good sense of Jamie in here, some curious color combined with a call-back to the good old days.

"I mean where else can you come that you can see the old-fashioned barber chairs," says Bob, a long-time client of Jamie's. "Heck, he's even got a piano in here."

Jamie may have a piano in here but, if you ask anyone outside his shop, the piano seems to have a stronger hold on him.

"Good evening everyone," Jamie says amid mild clapping from those gathered in The Mill Restaurant lounge.

Friday nights at The Mill is where Jamie comes to do what he believes he was born to do.

Jamie first showed up at The Mill in 1977 at the age of 18. Sure, he's had other jobs over the years but every weekend he would make his way back to The Mill.

Not that this is a job for Jamie. He plays just for tips, and what he bangs out on the Baldwin PS1000 keyboard is determined by those that show up to hear him. And they pack the place.

"Just to see him," says the waitress.

"And for three hours it's just comfort, relaxation," says a man who drove up from Boise for an evening at The Mill.

Growing up in Dubois, amidst a family of well drillers, Jamie taught himself to play "Chopsticks" at the age of 4, a skill he continued to teach himself, never having a lesson or learning to read music.

"I just play," he shrugs.

Jamie hasn't just played, however. He's thrived in an era where there aren't a lot of lounge players left.

"There weren't very many of them when I started either," he laughs.

The genre he favors, 20s jazz, 30s and 40s swing, is reflective of his biggest fans, and they may have a few years on him, but Jamie's talent hasn't tuned out the younger crowd who find comfort in his choice of chart-toppers.

"And our dad loved big band music and he would bring us all the time to come and sit and listen to Jamie," says Marta Paulson, whose father would bring them here for 15 years. But three years ago her dad passed away. And Marta can't stay away.

"I think a lot of people have great memories, you know, coming up here and spending time with Jamie," says Marta.

He's played probably tens of thousands of hours on the piano but, for most, it's enough to share just a few moments with Jamie.

"I don't really feel like I play it that well," says Jamie. "But everyone seems to like it."

In addition to playing The Mill on weekends, Jamie - who is also a great-grandfather - plays piano at a couple of other places around town. He says he will keep playing until nobody shows up to listen to him.

 

© 2017 KTVB-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment