Hello brave souls,
Just a quick one this month, coming to you from gorgeous Vashon Island, Washington. My plane landed late in Seattle yesterday afternoon, and I just barely had time to pick up my rental and drive to my house concert hosts' place, arriving about five minutes before the first guests. Things have felt like that for a while now. But Stan and Linda were kind (like so many gracious hosts I've barely met who've invited me to sing songs in their living room), and the good folks kept arriving with food and howdy-dos and reminiscences of my previous visits to the Northwest, and it gradually became clear to me that the magic was gonna happen, whether I felt like it or not. It was their steadiness that carried me through feeling naked without the power of a band, just a guy with a guitar singing songs and wondering if they're enough, whether they can really do anything, and whether any of us can really do anything in this hell-bent world. Because, I remembered, they'd all felt naked and powerless sometimes too. We were together in that.
Today I slept in, for the first time in a long time, and then rode the ferry across to Vashon, where I've been soaking up the greens and blues, and feeling my whole nervous system settling down as a result. I'll be singing songs here tonight, at a funky little spot called Snapdragon, and heading further south tomorrow. Almost all these shows came out of Sisters Folk Festival, and I'm already grateful to be back among some of those good people. If you also know good people in this part of the world, please send 'em along to one of the following stops:
Thu May 9 • Vashon Island, WA
Fri May 10 • Portland, OR with Kate Power & Steve Einhorn, Paul Chasman, and Glass Heart String Choir
Sat May 11 • Eugene, OR
Sun May 12 • Grants Pass, OR
Thu May 16 • Olympia, WA
Fri May 17 • Port Townsend, WA
Sat May 18 • Salem, OR
Wed May 22 • Portland, OR w/ Stand & Sway
Thu May 23 • Conway, WA w/ Mandy Troxel
Fri May 24 • Shaw Island, WA w/ Mandy Troxel
Sat May 25 • Lopez Island, WA w/ Phil Paige
Sun May 26 • Orcas Island, WA w/ Mandy Troxel
As always, all the details are on my website, www.scottcook.net. Remember websites? They were a thing back before there was an app for everything, back when the internet held the promise of democracy rather than the erosion of same (see this TED Talk on Facebook's role in Brexit) in the name of selling us to ourselves. There's a bigger point here, but mostly I'm just saying this in the vain hope that no one will write me to ask, "where are you playing in Portland?" this time ;)
As my first paragraph implies (and as I'm sure comes as no surprise to repeat readers of this Travelogue), I've been hella busy since I wrote you last. Two days after returning home from Australia, Bram and I shot down to Calgary for a weekend of wonderful gigs with Shari on bass. We opened for the amazing Dala at the Calgary Folk Club, and I set a new record for CD sales at a single gig, in case anyone thought the days of the CD are done. In High River we afterpartied and swapped songs with William Prince and a bunch more good folks til 3am or so, and I had two drinks rather than twenty, and woke up incredibly thankful for that. While we were there we heard a lot about the flood of several years back, in way more detail than I'd heard so far, and the way it brought out the best and worst in people. And of course it got me thinking, as I have been a lot lately (thanks in part to Naomi Klein's important book This Changes Everything) about the climate crises to come, and the inevitable struggle to stay human in the way we respond to them.
Manny's brakes were squealing on that short trip, and sounding downright dangerous by the drive home, so I took him to the shop to find out what I'd already suspected: he needed more work than he was worth, and our days of rambling together were done. On Wednesday I got the news and started scouring Kijiji, on Thursday I bought a 2008 Kia Sedona and a new bike rack, and on Friday me, Bram and Shari piled into the newly-christened Lucky and hit the road to the West coast.
Our shows in Dunster and Hope on the way out set a beautiful precedent for the road ahead: small gatherings of folks who mostly know each other, and work together on various things that matter in their corner of the world. It's such a privilege to be welcomed into groups like that, to hear what people are concerned with, and to witness the difference that a few enthusiastic people can make in turning a town into a community. We soaked it up on the islands. It was only toward the end of the trip, as we got back into the cities, that I was reminded of just how special that is––how so many of the spaces we live in offer little chance for connection, and limited potential for magic. Those gigs take work. You try to bring the magic with you, but it wilts a bit on the way. At the end of one hard gig, I actually decided against playing "Kitchen Dance Party On" (which we'd been closing out every show with), 'cause I didn't feel like dancing like a crazy man in front of the seemingly bored and distracted audience. But at the last second I thought what the hell, that's what we're here to do. Dance in the face of apathy.
Our last gig, in Revelstoke for their monthly Community Coffeehouse event, brought it all home. Our new friends Denis and Myra and a bunch of volunteers had been running this thing for nine years in the basement of the United church, with locals doing two songs each open-mike style for the first half, and feature artists playing a full set for the second. And there they were, folks of all ages and walks of life, coming together for a night of old-fashioned entertainment without screens, and talking about things that matter in their neighbourhood. As always, it's an honour to be a part of something like that.
Our hugest gratitude goes out to the folks out west, for taking such good care of us, and welcoming us into their little pieces of paradise. My thanks are also due to the Canada Council for the Arts, who helped me out with both the BC tour and our most recent trip to Australia, reminding me once again how lucky we are to live in a country that invests in its arts.
If you enjoyed the clip of the She'll Be Rights from Cobargo Folk Fest in Australia last month, here's a new one from that same set (caught by audience member Peter Whiter) that was inspired by the aforementioned Naomi Klein book:
Alright, I've gotta leave it there for now, I've got a gig to play! Keep believing, friends. Big love,