Tommy The Animal

In Magazine by William SteindlerLeave a Comment

Waiting for a cool Colorado rain. L to r, Caleb Cofsky, Norb McGettigan, Ian Huschle

Caleb Cofsky is a weird kid.

A kind of weird he himself seems to be carving– into a unique form, yet to be sculpted. A kind of weird he can be proud of.

We think of weird as an isolating term, defining others weathered by the winds of time, discontent with society and its grinding expectations. Weird freaks us out, pushes us away, scares us, but we can’t help admire it from afar.

Caleb is concocting a different recipe for weird, one that draws you in, makes you want to dance til you scare yourself, and invites you to be alive. His contagious smirk and longing eyes will remind you that youth is not wasted on the young.

He grew up in the suburbs, outside Boston. Looking back, he seems to appreciate the normalcy of his childhood– rather than resent it, like so many angsty young artists cursed with loving families and roofs over their heads. Every Sunday morning, his dad awakened the family with Neil Young’s Unplugged on vinyl.

Caleb watched the needle of his dad’s record player and became obsessed. He cradled the words on his tongue; his eyes sifted through the melodies. The poor kid was introduced to his destiny and life would never be the same. Certainly not normal.

He loves his dad.

Beyond showing Caleb the sagas of artists such as Neil Young, The Grateful Dead, and The Who, he introduced Caleb to a band he knew personally, The Ballou Brothers. Haven’t heard of ‘em? Well, dear reader… you are not alone. They were a wild bunch, as Caleb recalls. How wild? One night they “carved” the bowls of a local skatepark (location not divulged for fear of legal consequence) with a Mini Cooper. The endeavor ended with hellfire, a broken back, and a charred British auto at the bottom of a concrete bowl. The guy with a broken back dodged his way home amidst the flashing lights of police cruisers. The name given to him by his cohorts was Tommy The Animal.

An unidentifiable urge led Caleb to create music.

And so he started down a road that any concerned parent would not wish upon their child: the road of a musician. His first and only guitar lessons were from a crazed Black Sabbath fan in a dingy basement with underwear draped over lampshades. Caleb was in the fourth grade. He committed himself to learning every Who song recorded. He learned the rules of music, so later, he could break them.

Tommy the Animal songwriters, Caleb Cofsky, Jack Douglas

Now at the ripe old age of twenty-three, Caleb has a few of his own stories to tell. This past summer he booked his band’s first tour from Carbondale to The Big Apple. The four friends became closer, emotionally and physically– packing themselves, a full drum set, amps, guitars, and various other instruments into a Toyota Rav4. Caleb’s traveling companions/music mongrels/old college friends included Jack Douglas (co-writer), Ian Huschle (everything, but mostly drums) and Kyle Jensen (bass). The young nomads could have easily been mistaken for vagrants, as they slept on park benches from St. Louis to New York. Perhaps, they pondered, they were.

Babes on the Beach, l to r, Ian Huschle, Kyle Jensen, Caleb Cofsky, Jack Douglas


They made it home alive and so labeled the tour a success. Home, for Caleb, is now Carbondale. When he chased the woman he loves out here, he didn’t expect such a vibrant music scene. The ever heightening wave of gentrification collapsing on rural Colorado is bringing young van varmints, musicians, artists, and entrepreneurs into a potential modern renaissance. Sounds like Aspen in the seventies. Let’s hope for Caleb’s sake, Carbondale doesn’t have a similar fate. Maybe people like Caleb who appreciate this place will help preserve it before it’s carpeted in heated driveways and condos. So people like Caleb won’t be forced to sleep on park benches.

Look for Tommy the Animal’s CD “Peach Blow” October 31. Check ’em out First Friday at Steve’s Guitars, 8:PM.

Anyway, for now, Caleb is happy to call ‘Sopris City’ his home. Where ever he is, he will make music because music makes his life better; it’s the only medicine he knows. Songs are like snapshots, and in his latest album, he captures that concept. Tommy The Animal will be debuting their new album Peach Blow at Steve’s Guitars, First Friday, October 5th at 8:PM.CCon

Contributing music writer William Steindler of Callin’ Old Souls knows a thing or two about storytelling and songwriting himself. Check out his piece from the July issue here.