Born Cosmos Sunshine Heidtmann on a commune-like hippie settlement on the Connecticut River, there’s an outpouring of influence behind the music that draws from years of reflection and observation. The settlement was a homestead farm with no electricity, no phones and an outhouse. Water had to be hand pumped from a well that his father dug and heated on the propane stove in order to bathe. The characteristics of this living situation had Cosmos spending most of his childhood getting lost in the woods and being surrounded by a multitude of colorful characters that matched this colorful lifestyle. Cosmos was introduced to the music that influenced his own craft when his parents took him to the Summer Jam Festival at Watkins Glen , featuring The Allman Brothers Band, The Grateful Dead and The Band. He still recalls the music constantly playing in the background on his parent’s turntable as he looked out onto the river- remembrances of what he calls “vibey, acoustic, singer/songwriter music” that was very indicative of the seventies.
The tragic murder of John Lennon changed everything for Cosmos. This moment entirely swept Cosmos up by a new perspective. It showed him the power of words and music and the connection shared by people with great ideals. It was this moment when his destiny was written and he became consumed by the music. He only needed to find his instrument. The culmination of life experiences helped him paint the picture that became his future. Like every great painter, all the proper tools need to be present to create. Cosmos’ childhood experiences became his pallet, and at age 14 when he picked up the guitar, the guitar was the brush that moved the colors around to create beautiful strokes of art. By fifteen, Cosmos was writing his own material and playing professionally.
Cosmos’ days of getting lost in the woods were over. His younger years were ones of many restrictions, but with a guitar in hand, the possibilities seemed endless. After a brief stint at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Cosmos moved to New York City and began his tenure as lead guitarist, songwriter and bandleader for the 1990's bands, Cherokee Sex Workshop and Walkinbird. The latter’s eponymous debut album was produced by the legendary Warren Haynes , who became a mentor to Cosmos, teaching him the ways of songwriting, studio production and guitar wizardry. Since that time, he has been an active solo performer and the front man for Cosmos Sunshine & the Butterfly Effect, Los Lotharios, The Cosmos Sunshine Band and Dan Patch.
Cosmos has amassed a discography of four full length albums and four EPs and has played some of the best venues in New York City including Irving Plaza, CBGB, and The Knitting Factory and toured nationally opening for such greats as Gov't Mule, Blues Traveler, and Lenny Kravitz . In 2018 Cosmos Sunshine was inducted in to the Connecticut Blues Hall of Fame and will release his fifth full length album, Comes with the Fall , at the end of May.
There is a magical sense to the life that Cosmos was born into. The simplicity and primitiveness of his childhood was soothed by music. It is like Cosmos was given more than just the primary colors on his pallet and it was up to him to make those colors come to life. He has a n abiding sense of rightness and connectedness to his past that he experiences through the expression of music. Cosmos Sunshine was born with a vibrant array of colors in front of him that he still paints with today.
Photo credit: Maureen Drennan