Germantown residents Boz Heinley, Buck Buchanan, Kim Empson, Charlie Cooper and Wain Ballard make up the Humbleman Band, which has played for years at Northwest Philly venues. Cooper is recovering …
by Len Lear
In late June, Germantown musician Charlie Cooper, 70, leader of the Humbleman Band, which has played at numerous music venues in Northwest Philly, began experiencing the widely publicized symptoms of coronavirus — a fever that eventually hit 102.5, fatigue, achiness, nausea, vomiting, blotches on the skin, loss of appetite, headaches and “Covid toe.”
“The symptoms would come and go,” Cooper said. “I was sleeping almost all the time. I was in the hospital for a while at Einstein Montgomery County three days after the onset of symptoms. My vitals were OK. The hospital could do nothing except give you oxygen if you need it, and I didn't. I am very thankful for everyone who reached out to me, but I was so wiped out it was hard to even respond.
“I was in Einstein hospital for a few hours and was then released. Some Tylenol had helped to lower my temperature, and a chest X-ray came back OK. I had the option of staying in the hospital, but I was urged to go home if I was up for it, so I went home.”
The doctors were convinced that Cooper had Covid-19, although tests taken at Einstein, CVS and VYBE Urgent Care, the latter two in Roxborough, all came back negative. Despite the test results, Cooper was kept in quarantine for more than three weeks because of the persistence of Covid-19 symptoms.
Finally, on July 23, Cooper told us, “I am not out of quarantine, but I just had a virtual session with my primary doctor today. I am feeling fine and looking forward to walks, bike rides and seeing friends. This morning marked my first time of being fever-free for three consecutive days. I hit several days in a row of having intermittent low-grade fever, which gets a bit demoralizing, but hopefully that has now passed.
“I am feeling well, though quite weary of quarantine. I also got negative tests back from VYBE Urgent Care, which means either I do/did not have the virus or more false negatives. Psychologically I feel like I've had the Plague, and I am simply not interested in socializing, although I am normally a very social person.”
Cooper is a long-time resident of West Johnson Street, on the border between Germantown and Mt. Airy. He has been a self-taught IT pro for 36 years, the last 21 of them at the University of Pennsylvania, and a lifelong musician who has seen his share of ups and downs. Charlie also founded the Humbleman Band 21 years ago, which recently released a terrific CD, “Beautiful Day.”
The Humbleman Band has performed many times at The Mermaid Inn, often with the late Richard Drueding. They've played bars in town and lots of block parties, street festivals, private parties and fund-raisers. “At some gigs there were more people in the band than there were in the audience,” Cooper said. “Others were just so exciting, so happening, so much fun. It’s been a great ride!”
The band's favorite gig took place in November of 2018 on the occasion of the release of their fourth record. “Our good pal Jim Hamilton graciously offered to host it at his and his Rittenhouse Soundworks recording studio in Germantown. I had low expectations and modest hopes. It turned out to be pretty sensational for Humbleman. The studio and performance space is such a terrific room visually and acoustically.
“We had a great turnout, which I was very thankful for. We are quite happy with how the record turned out and are very proud of it. It was great to be able to perform it all the way through with people actually paying attention. A special treat for me and the band was to have my oldest child, Curtis, sit in on guitar; Curtis has been doing this off and on since he was 14, but this one was really special for me.”
Regarding his probable coronavirus experience, Cooper insisted, “It has given me a greater appreciation for the many blessings I have, such as a home. I am so very grateful for my wonderful friends, also.”
Regarding the people who do not want to wear masks and do not seem to take the pandemic seriously, what would Charlie say to them? “The virus is no joke. The symptoms can be quite intense. However, much worse than that are the fear of where it might lead and the horror of fearing you might have infected others.”
For more information, visit humbleman.bandcamp.com Len Lear can be reached at email@example.com