Under the Cold Sky 

Steve+Hooper%0APhoto+Courtesy+of+Steve+Hooper

Steve Hooper Photo Courtesy of Steve Hooper

Isabelle Tavares

The Great Seal of the State of Michigan portrays the coat of arms on a blue field. A stoic elk and moose supports a dark blue shield, depicting the word Tuebor, translating to “I will defend” in Latin. A white banner is slung beneath. On it, the words, Si Quæris Peninsulam Amœnam Circumspice, translating to Michigan’s state motto, “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”

The former part of the state motto is the title of NMU alumni Steve Hooper’s latest album, “If You Seek a Pleasant Peninsula”, which holds a collection of songs that celebrate
Hooper’s life and memories in the Upper Peninsula. Under the name of ‘Under This Cold Sky’, Hooper began playing live shows in high school, but didn’t start songwriting until attending NMU during which he played in a rock band. He graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, and is now teaching high school science.

Hooper and his wife are both from the Negaunee area and attended NMU. When they moved to Madison, Wisconsin, he started to miss home and began writing about his memories and stories from the U.P, Hooper said.

“When you drive around the midwest there’s a lot of nice areas but Marquette is so unique,” Hooper said. “NMU gives you the opportunities to get outside and explore, and be a part of a small but very vibrant community. You don’t really find that elsewhere.”

Hooper said songwriters are often influenced by their surroundings. Like John Denver bellows stories of the Montana sky, Hooper tributes his folk- style songwriting to the diverse and pristine U.P wilderness.

“I’ve spent my entire life in the U.P, it’s hard to avoid writing about it even if you intentionally try not to,” Hooper said.
Hooper has played for close to 10 years. His first album, Of Iron and Men, is a collection of
historical stories around the Marquette area, strung together with a traditional folk sound.

His latest album, “If You Seek a Pleasant Peninsula”, contains 10 songs, including “Trout Magic” which has lyrics from noted U.P author, lawyer and fly-fisherman John D. Voelker’s “Testament of a Fisherman.”

This summer, Hooper checked off eight major shows from his list. In the past, Hooper played only when invited to, and since reaching out to Marquette venues, he has played two times per week.

“A few were really cool,” Hooper said. “Free the Music Fest had lots of people, a professional sound person, and a big diversity in music.”

Including rock, blues, folk and a little bit of everything, he added.

Hooper said he is going into his third year of teaching and enjoys having the summer free to songwrite, perform, and immerse himself in the wilderness that first inspired him.