Hobo’s life suits Cook just fine, for now

Scott Cook quit a well-paying teaching job in Taiwan to come home and live in his van. But it’s all good, says Cook, as long as he can continue making music.

Scott Cook

Scott Cook

Scott Cook quit a well-paying teaching job in Taiwan to come home and live in his van.

But it’s all good, says Cook, as long as he can continue making music.

The critically praised folk-roots musician performs in Red Deer on Saturday — he’s throwing a three-way CD release party at The Matchbox with The Bop Ensemble and Jesse Dee and Jacquie B.

Cook’s second solo album, called This One’s on the House, mostly concerns matters of the heart. “It’s main theme is about having the courage to love — and have your heart broken,” says the Edmonton-based singer, who admits his songs are always partly autobiographical. “Life’s tough — even more so when you have an open heart.”

The title track also touches on his “hobo” lifestyle, which has involved spending a lot of time living out of his van because of tight finances.

Cook, studied philosophy in university and spent several years teaching kindergarten in Taiwan, where he also played with a band. While it’s probably never tougher to chuck it all to become a solo musician than when the economy is in a hole and bars are relying largely on deejays, he says has no regrets.

“I just wanted to do this and I really enjoy it . . . I’ve been to 13 festivals this summer,” says the musician, who plans to be back in Edmonton in early November to do some more songwriting.

Cook posts writings by Martin Luther King Jr. and left-wing economist Noam Chomsky on his website, but he never beats political bushes in his songwriting, because “I always figured you should never write songs about things that would be better covered in an essay.”

He looks forward to sharing the local bill with Bill Bourne, Wyckham Porteous and Jasmine Ohlhauser, of the Bop Ensemble. The trio will perform sweetly melodic roots tunes reminiscent of the ’60s groups The Mamas and Papas and The Byrds.

The vocal harmonies might surprise fans more familiar with Bourne’s previous bluesy sound. But the Central Alberta musician has described his music as always evolving.

Porteous believes it’s the vocals that give the group its uniqueness. The combination of Ohlhauser’s “pure” high voice, Porteous’s low gruff one and Bourne’s free-form singing mean even a familiar Mamas and Papas song, done Bop-style, will be a new listening experience.

While Bourne has blended his talents with many performers in the past, “this is probably my favourite of his incarnations,” adds Cook, who will also share the stage with his friends, Jesse Dee, of Red Deer, and Jacquie B.

The duo will perform more jazz-informed folk music. “We’ll be swapping songs and playing in the round, trading off on songs, where I play backup for them and they support me. . . . It should be good,” said Cook.

The concert starts at 8 p.m. at The Matchbox. Tickets are $22 by calling 403-341-6500.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com