I know you just heard from me, but I'm writing to break the news that I won't be finishing this tour. I was supposed to be out for eight more weeks, but last night I read a bunch online, consulted the folk barometer, and decided that it would be irresponsible for me to continue with this contagion running around. There's a real risk that I might unknowingly help it along, considering what an ideal vector a troubadour would make––going from house to crowded house, and communing with diverse groups of often older folks across vast distances. I'd gone through a few days of denial, like the country did, not wanting to overreact, wanting to wait and see how this thing plays out. But we don't need to wait and see how it plays out. We've already got Italy's experience to learn from, and the scientists say we're about a week behind them.
A few of the venues made the decision easier for me last night by letting me know that their concerts are on hold for the time being. Some of the venues even generously offered to send a cheque to help with the sudden loss of two months of work. We invest a lot of time and money into these tours up front, on the assumption that it'll come back to us. I've never had the rug pulled out from under me like this. Thankfully, I'm doing alright these days, not perilously close to the line like I used to be, and many of my musicians friends still are. Everybody in the gig economy (which has grown to over 35% of the US workforce) and the service sector's gonna be hurting. Venues are going to be hit especially hard. I count myself among the lucky not to worry about going hungry or homeless, and to live in Canada, a country with socialized health care for everybody. It's been incredibly disappointing, even as this outbreak widens the cracks in America's system, to see Democrats voting en masse for a candidate who stands against Medicare for all. Maybe he'll have a change of heart when he goes head to head with Bernie on Sunday.
I've already started driving homeward, from Austin toward Albequerque, and from there, on through New Mexico, a corner of Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, to Naramata, BC, where Pamela's hanging out with her daughter. It'll probably take four days. Then I'm told I'll need to self-quarantine for two weeks after I arrive in the country. It's easy for me to see the silver lining in that, seeing as I've still got an unbelievable amount of work to do to get this album and book out into the world, and to solidify the upcoming release tours in Canada, the States, and across the pond, assuming they're still happening. I'm got plenty of use for time off. But I'm painfully aware of what a struggle it's going to be for so many folks.
Lots of feelings come up when your livelihood and way of life are threatened. I can empathize with Albertans who've lost jobs in oil and gas after the global drop in prices, even though they misplaced the blame on a government that was simply trying to diversify the economy so we wouldn't be so dependent on global oil prices. It's tempting to try and find someone to blame, just like the President did in his televised address, emphasizing that the virus was foreign––it came from Asians, and then Europeans (though not the British necessarily, but you know, swarthier sorts of Europeans)––it wasn't our problem. Well, now it's everybody's problem. And as always, as long as we're children of this Earth, we belong to each other.
I keep thinking about climate change, as I burn these dinosaur bones to get home––about how the scientists can tell us over and over that it's time to act, but we'll keep stalling until it's glaringly obvious, maybe until it's already too late and we find ourselves fighting among the empty shelves. But crises can also bring out the good in people. As one of the presenters I just heard from, Beverly in Saratoga Springs, wrote, "Do you think we could come together to heal one another with the Coronavirus and then move on to healing other things?"
I'm still hoping, friends. Because I know how much beauty and mercy and magic we're capable of, and because I'm invested in the future: in small things, like continuing to plan shows and create art, and in more important things, like all the young people I love who'll inherit this world from us.
There's a lot about all that in the book I just wrote. If you want to help me bring it into the world, tenuous an endeavour as it is, there are three options in the link below. One of those options, by popular demand, is vinyl. If you've already ordered a CD and want to change your order, just drop me a line and we'll work it out. I'm incredibly humbled by how generous and supportive you've already been.
After sending out the last Travelogue I realized that the video in the link was password-protected, sorry about that! It's unlocked now so you can see it in all its cinematic glory through the link above. My sincere thanks to the folks who've already been sharing the video online. It was filmed by our pal Joshua Collings of Pegleg Productions, with help from Tristan Pierce and Victoria Vigenser on cameras, and Lindsay Martin capturing the sound, with the support of Cobargo Folk Festival. Since we shot the video, bushfires tore through the town of Cobargo, leading to the cancellation of this year's festival, and Josh's hometown of Cudgewa, where his family lost their house. It's a high wire we're dancing on, always. I feel incredibly grateful, heading home from a tour in tatters, to be among the lucky ones.
There's a slight chance I'll finish some of the late-April dates on this tour, but it's looking extremely unlikely. I'm still planning a trio tour of BC in May and Alberta in June, though that's up in air too. Most exciting are a few shared dates with Corin Raymond, who's also releasing a new album and even bigger book, called Dirty Mansions. The Edmonton show's booked for Sunday June 7 at Varscona Theatre. All the dates and details, as always, are on www.scottcook.net, which will very soon be shape-shifting to the new site you're seeing on www.scottcook3.bandzoogle.com.
I suppose that's all for now, friends. I've got miles to go before I sleep. I trust you're all washing your hands and abstaining from handshakes and following public health officials' advice. But I sincerely hope we can all keep our hearts open even as our doors are shut. Create something beautiful. Call a friend if you're feeling alone. Give the money you'd be spending on coffees to people who need it more than you do. Read those books you've been meaning to read. Me and Pamela might even do a little streaming concert if we get around to it. Whatever you do, do it with love.
Stay safe, and stay kind,