Bio, Photos, Recordings

Bio / Albums / Free Downloads / Promo Stuff / "Wildman" Video / "Centro Bus" Video / Hank Aaron Story / The Dana Cooke Project





With the Stantons
: For photos, verbiage, and recordings related to the Side of Stantons band, visit this page.

For Dana "Short Order" Cooke solo, read on . . .


Downloadable photos . . .

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click thumbnail for full-sized photo


Short bio . . .

[Available for download as an MS Word file]

Dana "Short Order" Cooke has been active as a songwriter and performer in Central New York since the mid-1990s. He has self-produced three albums — "Wildman" (1996), "County Fair" (1998), and "Snowball's Chance" (2003) — each of which was nominated for album of the year, folk category, in the Syracuse Area Music Awards ("Sammies"). Cooke was also twice nominated as songwriter of the year in the Sammies.

Many of Cooke's songs are noted for being simultaneously wry and mildly poignant. He is a songwriter for whom irony is not merely an agent of laughter, but an essential, delicate instrument with which to gauge life’s everyday struggles and small victories. The best of his compositions elicit a chuckle one moment, and misty tear the next. Songwriting influences include Roger Miller, Loudon Wainwright III, Dar Williams, and Don Henry.

Today, he is most often seen performing with the Stantons — the husband-and-wife team of Jeff and Judy Stanton. Both are multi-talented musicians. Jeff plays bass in the band (though he is equally adept on guitar), and contributes vocals and an occasional original song. Judy is a top-class fiddle player who also adds mandolin to a few songs, while singing and also tossing in an original song or two. Together, Cooke and the Stantons share not only musicianship but back-and-forth humor and camaraderie on stage.

As a performer, Cooke began on local open-mic stages (notably, the famous Tuesday night open mic at Happy Endings Cake and Coffeehouse), and by 1996 was appearing solo at a few local venues. During the period 1998-2001, Cooke performed frequently with Syracuse-area vocalist and mandolinist Hanna Richardson and bassist John Dancks; together, they were known as the Short Order Symphony. Then, in late 2001, following a year’s hiatus from performing, Cooke re-emerged with His Band Joe, consisting first of only Joe Cleveland on guitar, banjo, and vocals; and eventually reintroducing John Dancks on bass.

Cooke was a long-time member of Genesee Ted, a local combo performing bluegrass, classic country, and old-time mountain music. In this band, Cooke plays mandolin, guitar, and Strumstick, while also singing songs such as "Bury Me Beneath the Willow" and "In the Pines." Though he retired recently, he was, for 14 years, president and a lead volunteer of the nonprofit Folkus Project, which stages folk and acoustic concerts in Syracuse (

More about the albums . . .

“Snowball’s Chance” Released in fall 2003, "Snowball's Chance" is a 15-song album that features Cooke’s combo of the time, His Band Joe, which was Joe Cleveland on banjo, guitar, and vocals; and John Dancks on bass. Selections on this album typify the range of Cooke’s outlook, from the mildly acerbic “It’s About Freakin’ Time” to the moving and utterly original “Bone” and “Cold Day in Hell.” The album immediately earned a four-out-of-four-star review from the Syracuse Post-Standard’s Mark Bialczak, who later named “Snowball’s Chance” the #3 local album of 2003.

"County Fair" The mini-album “County Fair,” which reflected his upbringing in urban Otsego County, N.Y., was released in 1998. It features eight songs either directly or loosely based on his rural youth. One song from it, “Christmas in Cooperstown,” — was selected for inclusion on a nationally distributed anthology of baseball songs, titled “Diamond Cuts.”

"Wildman" Cooke's first album was created in 1996, when he wrangled a small army of musical associates into making guest studion appearances on what proved to be a 14-song magnum opus, titled “Wildman.” The album features such Cooke classics as "My Father's Bald," "Sky Diver," "Famous," "Figuratively Fishing," and "Artist's Heart."

A few quotes . . .

“Many fine talents have called Central New York state their home. . . .,” says WAER-FM folk deejay Larry Hoyt. “Dana ‘Short Order’ Cooke belongs in their ranks — nationally known and critically recognized contemporary folk/acoustic artists.” At another time, writing in the Syracuse New Times, Hoyt said, "Unlike many of today's singer-songwriters, Cooke possesses a healthy sense of humor -- one that he's willing to point at his own contradictory self."

“Dana has an uncanny ability for taking serious subjects and goofing on them without devaluing them” said Michael Haight of

“Dana ‘Short Order’ Cooke writes songs that make you think. Then they make you chuckle. Finally, they make you want to invite him over to swap tales and share beverages,” wrote Mark Bialczak of the Syracuse Post-Standard in 2003, after the release of Snowball's Chance. "It’s Cooke’s comfortable way with words that’s the star on this 15-song collection. He can make you laugh and cry as well as hum along to the melody.”

"You have to like Dana Cooke's sense of humor. It's a cheekiness that sets him apart from other Central New York songwriters." -- Mark Bialczak on another occasion.

"With devilish irony and self-effacingly hellacious humor, Cooke is a modern-day Everyman who endures life's reverses, major and minor." -- SingOut! magazine



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