One week, it’s a Vancouver Island music festival, the next, it’s a gig in the scenic Kootenays …
There are advantages to living out of your van and making your own concert bookings, said roots balladeer Scott Cook, with a chuckle. “I decide what I want to see, then I go to the places where I want to go.”
On Thursday, Cook will be in Red Deer, performing with Boots and the Hoots at The Pinecone Opry at Fratters Speakeasy.
The solo artist met the Red Deer honky-tonk band at the South Country Fair and was “blown away” by the musicianship and songwriting of Mark “Boots” Graham — “especially the ad-lib songwriting, ‘round the campfire … He’s a genius.”
The two had talked about playing together, and it’s finally going to happen, said Cook — who’s no songwriting slouch himself.
In 2013, the tunesmith, who’s inspired by world events, as well as his own feelings, won in the folk and acoustic category in the UK Songwriting Contest. A year later, Cook was nominated for best emerging artist in the 2014 Canadian Folk Music Awards, and figures this was his career high since becoming a professional musician in 2002.
Cook grew up in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia as his pastor father moved the family around to different communities.
The West Virginia-born singer admitted he isn’t religious anymore — although a song destined for his next album is about the second coming of Christ.
The lyrics ask: “what if it (happened) the same way as the first time, in humble circumstances? Would anybody who calls himself a Christian recognize it? ” said Cook.
He wrote the tune in reaction to the “mean” comments he heard from so-called God-fearing politicians about poor people and refugees.
Cook decided a long time ago to forgo the usual trappings of success — a 9-to-5 career, mortgage and family life — to be a foot-loose musician.
He’d been working as a kindergarten teacher in Taiwan and playing on the side. When he realized he was the only one in his band interested in pursuing music full time, he moved back to Canada and became a solo artist.
Since he’s always on the road, he decided he didn’t need any accommodation aside from his van.
Cook’s plans involve touring Canada and the U.S. (especially the Michigan area, where he still has relatives) this summer and fall. This will be followed by gigs in the U.K. and Europe in November, South Africa in December, and Australia early in 2017.
Although his drifter lifestyle carries undeniable appeal, the idea of settling down has been nagging at Cook ever since he sublet a Vancouver apartment for the month of May. “It’s a luxury to live in a house,” he sighed.
“I want to have a house, but I’m going to be on the road steady, for the next year and a half,” so that will have to wait.
In July, Cook intends to record his sixth album at a friend’s home studio on Mayne Island in the Georgia Strait — between Vancouver Island and Vancouver. It will follow So Long from 2015.
His current release was made with his seven-piece honky-tonk band, The Long Weekends, and includes Talkin’ Anthropocalyptic Blues — a song about all the ways humans can self-destruct. Cook’s inspiration was the end-of-times talk in 2012 associated with the Mayan calendar.
“Curiously, we always seem to think that someone from outside can save us,” added the singer/guitarist, who will perform in Red Deer with his Second Chances trio, including banjo/mandolin player Bramwell Park and upright bassist Melissa Walker.
There’s a $10 cover for the 8:30 p.m. show, with Boots and the Hoots.