Ghost City Searchlight
Coupar is full of energy. Early in a recent Ghost City Searchlight show at Woodruff's in Ypsilanti, Coupar broke a guitar string during a flurry of strumming. "I'm a bit gun-shy now," he said, later in the set, "I'm not strumming as hard." He then proceeded to dive into another song, playing just as frantically as he had all night--and threw in some theatrical jumps for good measure.
Joining Coupar in Ghost City Searchlight are accordionist Jesse Miller, who also plays in Black Jake and the Carnies; Jesse's wife, Sian Miller, sharing vocals; multi-instrumentalist Dave Brandt on lead guitar, banjo, and mandolin; Joe Sleep on bass guitar; and Jessica Hanna on backing vocals and stand-up drums, which she thumps with mallet sticks.
Coupar and Brandt first met and played music together in Stone Crazy Pirates, a pirate-themed band--yes, pirate-themed. They formed Ghost City Searchlight, Coupar says, with a shared desire to "play Celtic and American folk music with all the attack and energy associated with a punk rock ethos." He fondly recalls visiting Great Britain with his parents (his father is Scottish and his mother English) and discovering the Corries, a Scottish folk band that sang tales of battles and outlaws and the general carnage that accompanies such themes. He was enamored by both their lyrical storytelling and the "driving, leg-stomping, hand-clapping, table-pounding beat that propelled the songs forward." Discovering the Dropkick Murphys several years later reinforced his love of the Celtic genre.