For the past eight years, Canadian folk artist Scott Cook has been on the road and is back down under to share his love and music. Having met Cook in Taiwan some 14 years ago where we were both working as English teachers, he’s one of the most genuine, decent guys around. His music is heartfelt, soulful, and has a lyrical artistry combined with gently finger plucked tunes that leaves one in a state of contemplation. In all aspects, he’s the genuine article who lives and breathes his musical vision. We caught up over a phone call recently, and it was a treat to speak with Cook who is preparing for a massive 30 plus date tour around Australia which commenced on the 27th Dec.
I’ve listened to the new album, and man it hits you right in the soul. From the opening track ‘Pass It Along’ (about a guitar’s life cycle, the comparison to humanity, and the future of our country and this whole endangered Earth) through to the final ‘One More Time Around.’ The album is a deeper, more solicitous offering from Cook, and shows how much he’s grown both musically and personally. We talk about the ‘old days’ in Jungli, Taiwan where he regularly played and honed his craft, and he agrees that things have changed a bit. “It’s a little different now to what I was doing then, there’s more of an emphasis on the stories”, adds Cook.
He says that his music comes from his own life “and the people that I meet. I meet people in many countries these days, hear their stories and see things in common between them. ‘Pass It Along’ for example, was inspired in part by a buddy, David Ross Macdonald (drummer from The Waifs). He was talking about his 70-year-old guitar, and how he sent it to a shop for repair. He was kinda bummed after he got it out from the shop because he felt like it lost some of the age and charm that it had. He ended up saying that he’s only borrowing the guitar from the next guy anyway. I thought that was cool, and it stuck in my head so I wrote ‘Pass It Along’. I thought of the various ways that other things are like that, our countries, the earth etc.” It’s a beautiful piece, and really does evoke thought about the times we are in, and the legacy we will leave to future generations.
Cook has been literally on the road for the past 8 years, living out of a van or a backpack- he’s about as true to the image of the roving folk singer as you get! “I dig it (life on the road), I don’t get distracted, I like the novelty and freedom It’s also a good way to make some money out of music, by finding new audiences. I ‘m thinking of getting a base though, I’ll live in Toronto at the end of summer for a month break then decide what’s next.”
We chat about his journey, and how our paths crossed in a small yet vibrant city South of Taipei, Taiwan. Many westerners head abroad to discover new things, and themselves. That was certainly the case for myself, and Cook too it would seem. I heard him play for the first time at a bar called ‘River’, a popular expat hang out with an artsy vibe to it. It became a safe haven for many of us who were travelling solo, and united us in our respective journeys. He’s evolved fantastically as both an artist and a human, and we agree that Taiwan had a huge influence on both our lives. He channels my own experience through his observations.
“I didn’t really know who I was until I went there, I found myself in a new place where I knew nobody & nobody knew me. I had to figure a lot out and analyse the culture. That had a huge influence on my development as a person. The expat scene finds a lot of commonalities among itself. It taught a lot of lessons, but the creative and other freedoms were amazing. That taught me a lot.” Indeed it did.
Cook also mentions an interest in politics, and holds a simplistic yet realist view on the world. “We can only go one of two ways I think. We could destroy ourselves or figure out how to form one planet! “ I read some of his writings, mainly from his ‘One More Time Around’ album sleeve which are of a subtle political nature but rather balanced. He’s all for music (especially his) being accessible and available, and sees people paying for it as a gift. He’s also critical (rightly so) of greed and withholding of things like patents and medicines from the public as a means to control profits. His points are valid, and warrant further thought.
I’ve always found folk singers to be deeper and more aware than most, they seem to have a stronger connection to the human psyche. Cook remains humble and grounded about his proclivity. “I’m a writer of songs more than I am a musician I think, and yea I’m a folk singer.”
Folk singer, yes. Genuine, decent human being- absolutely!
Interviewed by Dazz Hassan
For more dates including house concerts and workshops see: http://www.scottcook.net/news.php
Listen to Scott Cook’s new album ‘One More Time Around’ here https://soundcloud.com/grooverevival/sets/one-more-time-around
SCOTT COOK AUSTRALIAN TOUR
Sun-Fri Dec 27-Jan 1 – Woodford, QLD – Woodford Folk Festival
Sat Jan 2 – Maleny, QLD – The UpFront Club
Sun Jan 3 – Brisbane, QLD – The Triffid with Irish Mythen
Sat Jan 9 – Sandgate, QLD – Music By The Sea festival
Sun Jan 10 – Alexandra Heads, QLD
Thu Jan 14 – Gymea, NSW – Sutherland Acoustic Club
Fri Jan 15 – Sydney, NSW – The Acoustic Picnic with Brett Winterford and Josh Overett
Wed Jan 20 – Canberra, ACT – Smith’s Alternative with Alex Richens
Thu Jan 21 – Bendigo, VIC – Billyroy’s Blues Bar
Fri-Mon Jan 22-25 – Newstead, VIC – Newstead Live Music Festival
Sun Jan 31 – Portarlington, VIC – Saints & Sailors with Candice McLeod
Thu Feb 4 – Port Noarlunga, SA – South Coast Folk Club with Liz Stringer
Fri Feb 5 – Adelaide, SA – Wheatsheaf Hotel with Liz Stringer
Sun Feb 7 – McLaren Vale, SA – Red Poles Gallery-Restaurant-B&B
Sun Feb 7 – McLaren Vale, SA – The Groove Garden
Sat Feb 13 – Beechworth, VIC – Tanswells Hotel, Beechworth
Sun Feb 14 – Wadiligong, VIC – Wandi Pub
Fri Feb 19 – Candelo, NSW – Acoustic night at Kameruka Hall
Sat Feb 27 – Woy Woy, NSW – Troubadour Acoustic Club
Sat Mar 5 – Collaroy, NSW – The Shack
Sun Mar 6 – Katoomba, NSW – Live in the Attic at Hotel Blue
Fri-Mon Mar 11-14 – Mia Mia, VIC – Burke & Wills Folk Festival
Thu Mar 17 – Melbourne, VIC – writers’ round at The Lomond Hotel with Enda Kenny
Fri-Sun Mar 18-20 – Yackandandah, VIC – Yackandandah Folk Festival