Communique

10/12/14

First official communique from Pokhara, Nepal.

NAMASTE FROM POKHARA

I am currently in Pokhara, a developing region which is the second largest city in Nepal, a small country that borders Tibet and India. Pokhara has a beautiful lakeside not far from the Annapurna Mountain Range and is packing a quarter million people into a radius of 55km squared.

 

I have a bit to say about that and everything else, and I’d like to address some of the who/what/when/where and why’s pertaining to this expedition across the Pacific ocean. Before I get too far into that though, I will start by talking about something that is slightly more relevant to this site which is music.
LETS TALK MUSIC
My current project Ryan Cook & The Valley Singers is turning out to be the most fun I’ve had since the early days of Ryan Cook & Sunny Acres in 2008. In the time between I’ve been working a hundred shows a year as a solo performer, mainly acoustic-based, and in folk settings like songwriters circles, cafes, and house concerts. Serious stuff for a guy who sings and yodels about zombie romance, social media stalkers, and genetically modified corn. Sometimes I wonder if I’d be comfortable in a Yuks Yuks comedy club then on stage at a folk festival? Comedy is a delicate thing in music and though Weird AlHomer & Jethro, and Tenacious D make it work, it’s a micro genre that is often overlooked as novelty. As an artist, one strives to be taken seriously. And so, I continue to try and balance my songs and stage show somewhere between life, love and laughs.

 

The Valley Singers evolved out of the realization that my love affair with classic country music was starting to wane. About this time I began a deep exploration into the parade of vocal groups that emerged in the 1940′s and 50′s in American Pop/Folk music. What began as a mild obsession with The Beach Boys (1960′s) soon turned to The Four Freshmen and then meandered back to the Country/Bluegrass field in the form of gospel groups like The Jordanaires. I’m admittedly obsessed with it all. Luckily, obsession is a key component of creativity. I previewed The Valley Singers idea on a few stages in 2014 and the response was overwhelmingly positive. After years of travelling alone with my dog I certainly don’t mind the companionship on stage and in the van.

 

The show presents myself centre-stage in familiar fashion thumb-picking an acoustic guitar but now accompanied by two and sometimes three back up singers. I love the sight and sound of harmony and the overall mood and energy it brings to the stage. More importantly this arrangement allows us to delve deeper into the individual songs not just of my catalogue but the folk/country songs that have become a staple in my show. We can meander into the pop, jazz, bluegrass or gospel world for portions of the show when desired. Even Hank Williams’ gets new life accompanied by layers of melody that can work to either enhance or soften the sorrow of his lovesick blues.

 

Lastly, the show isn’t so different from the acoustic solo show I’ve been presenting until now. This show is as intimate as anything I’ve done on my own but I would argue that it’s better.

 

WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US?
Last month I entered Signal Path Studios in Almonte, Ontario accompanied by the sexiest and smartest singers in the Ottawa Valley: Kelly Prescott & Kelly Sloan. With help from a few others providing guitar and mandolin the whole thing added up to a three song demo partially funded by FACTOR. I’m reviewing the sessions now, reporting to FACTOR and writing continually with hopes that these tracks become the foundation for a 2015 commercial release. I’m hoping that FACTOR or another third party will be interested in backing this project.

 

Until then it will be an interesting journey throughout Asia as I continue to book the 2015 schedule in Canada for Ryan Cook & The Valley Singers. I will be taking a break from performing solo next year in a move to journey to new territory, hopefully new venues, new faces and ultimately to give my music a new voice, so to speak.

 

I’d like to mention one last thing now before I part which is that I am very thankful for all of the friends and fans I have met in my travels. In all the venues I visit I’ve noticed two different camps of people in the audience. One camp is that which seems predominately in attendance to hear my original songs and stories, songs that are on the albums of mine they’ve purchased. The other camp, attends (as I perceive it) predominately in the anticipation of hearing classic songs from the 1940′s, 50′s, and 60′s. Songs by artists such as Hank Williams, Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson, and others from the heyday of country, blues and jazz. More and more the two camps are meeting up in fans who seem happy to hear whatever I’m doing, regardless of specifics.

 

I won’t be abandoning either camp anytime soon. As much as I love to write and create new music those vintage songs are as much a part of me as they are the journey I am on. Since we’ve now lost most all of the country greats I feel a growing responsibility and duty (one that I don’t mind) to preserve these songs and share them with the audiences I encounter. It’s not unusual to hear a modern country music celebrity name drop Johnny Cash but I don’t hear anyone mention Johnny Paycheck, Faron Young, Jack Greene, or Merle Travis. There are many overlooked greats in the country/western field. “Who’s gonna fill their shoes?” the song asks, well, I can’t fill George Jones shoes but I’ll keep singing his songs. The overwhelming stream of new music available today actually has me longing to hear something I’m familiar with, as conservative as that sounds.

 

Wether you discovered my music on YouTube or at a Hank Williams Tribute show you are always in mind when I’m writing songs and making setlists. You are with me everywhere I go, be it Griffith, Ontario, Nashville, Tennesse, or Kathmandu. I thank you sincerely for investing any bit of your time into my life and music. When you live on the road, the people you meet quickly become your family, and the venues you visit become a home away from home.

 

THANK YOU
Thank you for reading. My next post will delve into life and times in Nepal, power outages, technology, what it’s like to live off Dahl Bot, and adapting to travelling without a dog or vintage RV. I hope you’re enjoying your holidays in North America.

Namaste

Thank you for all your support in 2014. I performed 84 shows this year from as far away as Port Richey, Florida, to Cookstown, Ontario, and even one in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada with many stops in between!

I fly across the globe this week and am travelling with a small guitar for three- five months hoping to introduce the sounds of Western swing to the Eastern World. I will share photos and videos of these adventures but will try to keep them music related. If you feel it is entirely irrelevant or annoying -let me know in the comment section and I will adjust accordingly. My Twitter account will be the most active of my sites. www.twitter.com/iryancook

In 2015 I will be focusing primarily on my new group Ryan Cook & the Valley Singers. The show features my original music as well as vocal arrangements of greats like Hank Williams, Merle Travis, The Beach Boys, and many jazz/folk standards. Those who’ve seen the show have been enthusiastic and I hope you will enjoy it too. If anyone is interested in booking this show in Ontario or the Maritimes simply write to ryan@ryancook.ca for more information.

That’s a wrap for now. I’ve got some new videos to release which I hope you will enjoy. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Namaste

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Remembrance Day 2014 from Ottawa, Ontario.

Today is a great day to reflect.

If you are were born in the last 40 years (like me) you might have grown up not understanding the totality and importance of the first two World Wars. Certainly, understanding our history will tell us the most about where we are heading.

When I was I growing up in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia I remember each Remembrance Day as it were with light discussion in the classrooms on the importance of remembering the men and women who fought for our freedom, followed by a ritualistic ceremony with a small handful War survivors who were about 70- 80 years my elder. If any particular part of the war were described it was in the safest and most mild version acceptable to pass down to elementary and middle school children. The whole thing was hard to grasp in part because of the lack of closeness to the subject. When you are twelve years old day-dreaming about girls, Wrestling, The Simpsons, or loading your favourite video game it’s hard to fathom that only 40-50 years prior millions of our ancestors were slaughtered in the most devastating depths of depravity the modern world has ever known. Although some of the survivors were still alive (in my childhood) and a few good people like Joe Bishara of Yarmouth, NS worked to bring cultural significance to the subject, there was a complete disconnect, for me.

Attending a Remembrance Day ceremony felt like going to church or watching my sisters dance recital. There was no part of it that could hold the attention of my over-sugared, A.D.D, corn starchy developing brain stem. I can’t pinpoint exactly what the disconnect was, if it wasn’t selfishness, perhaps it was a hybrid of being a privileged spoiled brat in cozy middle North America.

About a year ago this all changed for me when I discovered a podcast by Dan Carlin (who’s ancestors settled in Nova Scotia, Canada). The podcast is called Hardcore History (https://www.facebook.com/HardcoreHistory) where Dan produces 2-3 hour long episodes walking the listener through, among other things, World War 1 & 2. He does so in a way that finally connected with me, and it was the first time I began to realize what I had never considered. The first two World Wars were not wars, they were missions to and from Hell. The battles (if you call them battles, not massacres) pushed humanity to endure what it will likely never have to endure again.

I’m still shocked on this Remembrance Day / Veterans Day that I lived 30 years without every understanding the totality and importance of these wars and how much having a grasp on them helps to explain the world I am currently living in.

If you are shut in today, can’t leave the house or have a long commute, I would highly recommend to check out one of Dan’s Hardcore History podcasts which walk you through these wars in Tom Clancy fashion with every last detail in tact.

If you are anything like me you might learn a lot more than you will couched in front of CTV or the CBC watching the celebrations and commemorations happening across the country. This is just my opinion and I am in no way affiliated with Dan Carlin, nor do I have any discordance with memorial services happening in Canada today (which are important and culturally significant).

The first episode of his series Blueprint for Armageddon is available for FREE to stream via iTunes or download directly from his site here:
http://www.dancarlin.com/product/hardcore-history-50-blueprint-for-armageddon-i/

There are four or five episodes in this series and part 1 is a great beginning with how World War 1 started, on an ordinary day just outside a small cafe in Sarajevo.

Never forget,
Thank you to all the veterans including my great uncle Don Cook who never returned from WW2.
-Ryan Cook

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Live stream concert TONIGHT!!!

CLICK BELOW TO WATCH 7:30pm EST Start time

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A Brush of Hope: The Kidney Foundation of Canada EBAY AUCTION

A boatload of shows in the Ottawa region this week but first check out this painting. I was approached to help raise money for The Kidney Foundation of Canada La Fondation canadienne du rein I did the best I could with the acrylic paints and canvas provided but concluded that I am NO painter. However, upon looking at some of the other paintings I guess I’m not the only one who’s hanging onto their dayjob. Help support this cause if you can! Other 2014 contributors include Bret HartDon Cherry,Donovan BaileyLeonard CohenJimCarrey, and Bif Naked. Honoured to be in company with these folks!

$_57

FENELON FALLS/ SMITH FALLS

I’ll be playing at two great venues this coming weekend, one is a beautiful United Church in Fenelon Falls, Ontario, the other is Coffee Culture in Smith Falls, Ontario.

Information for these shows is listed on the right hand side of this page under SHOWS!

Fenelon Falls

Tragedy strikes OTTAWA, Ontario

In response to the tragedies happening in Ottawa today (read about them here) we are postponing our show at Avant-Garde Bar in downtown Ottawa tomorrow night (Thurs Oct.22). We are working with the fine folks there to reschedule the show in a couple weeks when things are more stable. Our shows in Griffith and Renfrew this weekend are STILL A GO. We will be playing at the Pine Valley Restaurant FRIDAY and Finnigans’ Roadhouse SATURDAY.
Stay strong Ottawa, we will meet again!

- Ry & Dylan

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Ryan & Dylan live in Ottawa, Ontario ONE NIGHT ONLY LADIES (& gentlemen)

2014 RYAN DYLAN

Merle Travis/ Ontario/ Fall 2014

A note about the Merle Travis Tribute:
Firstly, there are a number of performances happening in Ontario this Fall which are not listed on the Merle Travis poster. These performances simply don’t feature the Merle component and are more like a regular show, they include:

October 10- Solo Performance @Calamity Jane’s, Addison, ON

October 11- John Allaire Show @Quinn’s Ale House Ottawa, ON

Nov 1- Ryan Cook @Fenelon Falls United Church, Fenelon Falls, ON

Nov 8- Ryan Cook & Kelly Sloan “Country Legends” @Mason Theatre Perth, ON

The Merle Travis Tribute show will be a two-set performance. The first set will be original music and the second set will be exclusively Merle Travis songs and instrumentals, accompanied by guitarist Dylan Watts.

Will hopefully bring this show to Atlantic Canada in mid 2015.
xo

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CountryTown All-Vinyl Country Music LP Party

This Wednesday night I will be co-hosting the CountryTown All-Vinyl record party at Gus’ Pub in Halifax, NS. If you’ve never been before, here’s what your night will look like: Basically you and your friends convene at Gus pub around 9pm for drinks, story swapping and perhaps a game of Bridge all to the soundtrack of spectacular Country Music records from the 50′s 60′s & 70′s. By the end of the night you will be dancing, flirting, and frolicking at one of Halifax’s most sterile LP listening rooms. It’s a home run.

Gus Pub

Joining host Aaron Fraser, myself and Brian Baker will bring a couple guitars and belt out a raw set of Merle Travis tunes. It will be a spectacular night of professionalism. I should note that I am donating my entire record collection to a friend in New Brunswick 5 days later so Wednesday will be my last time spinning the fabulous country records I have collected over the years, including Little Jimmy Dickens, Bob Wills, John Hartford, Slim Whitman, and many others.

If that doesn’t convince you then allow me to guilt you into attending. This will be my last week in Nova Scotia until June 2015. In the time between I will be travelling around Southeast Asia risking my neck on a giant mountain in Nepal among other things so, if your in my rolodex, you should come whisper a slobberly farewell out of guilt.

REJOICE REJOICE REJOICE
xoxoxox