Everything is supposed to shut down during the Lunar New Year, but Canadian troubadour and prairie poet Scott Cook has decided the holiday is the perfect time for a tour. He will play almost a dozen dates between tonight and Feb. 13.
Born in West Virginia and calling Edmonton home, Cook lived in Taiwan in the mid-2000s, playing roots reggae with a band called The Anglers. In 2007, he left to go on the road and pursue a career as a solo musician in North America, playing 160 shows a year and living in his van, save two months a year he is off the road. He has played for crowds as large as 2,000 at the Edmonton Folk Festival or as small as a couple dozen in “living room concerts” organized in private homes throughout Canada and the American Midwest. He has also done two tours of the UK and says this past summer “was the summer I would have had when I was 22, if I’d had the same access to credit I do now.”
His music is not as raucous as that might sound. In July, Cook released his fourth album, One More Time Around, an alternately cheerful and wistful mix of finger picking, nostalgia and stories from the road. The guitar picking is light, yet the songs highlight Cook’s growing ability as a storyteller and lyricist.
“I’m more about the words these days,” says Cook. “Here people like to party and talk when a band plays, and I’ve done that before. But now I really like it when people sit and listen. Every set I play has an arc, with one song leading into another, and they weave together with a story to tell.”
Listening to the album’s title track, you can almost imagine Cook in the early summer, climbing up into his van and heading off to some faraway gig. “Magnolia in the mild breeze, roadway stretching south. My thoughts scatter like wild geese, and the words fall from my mouth. I’m missing where I’ve been, and yearning for where I’m bound. Spin the wheel again, one more time around.”
Scott Cook plays tonight in Jhongli at Hide Out, 76-10 Chunghua Rd, Jhongli City (中壢市中華路76之10號), admission is NT$200. Tomorrow he will be in Zhubei City at Titty Tea, 2, Jiafeng 2nd St Sec 2, Chubei City, Hsinchu County (新竹縣竹北市嘉豐二街二段2號), admission is NT$250. And Sunday in Greater Taichung at Retro Coffee House, 116, Wucyuan W Rd Sec 1, Greater Taichung (台中市五權西路一段116號), admission is NT$300. For info on other dates, go to: www.scottcook.net.
FESTIVAL NEWS FROM DOWN SOUTH
The Megaport Festival (大港開唱), held annually in Greater Kaohsiung every March since 2006, will not take place in 2014. Though the festival had its most successful year yet in 2013, drawing around 20,000 fans to see acts like Grizzly Bear and Boris, the festival is going on hiatus this year, and will possibly reboot in 2015, though most likely under a different name. Megaport has been organized for the last two years by The Wall Music, which runs live houses in Taipei, Greater Kaohsiung and Yilan and two large music festivals, Megaport and Formoz (野台開唱). However, a dispute over control of the festivals erupted following a buyout of the venue and event promoter last fall. In September, The Wall CEO Orbis Fu (傅鉛文) bought up the shareholdings of The Wall’s three founders, Chthonic lead singer Freddy Lim (林昶佐), Spring Scream founder Jimi Moe and Chairmen guitarist A-chi (阿吉). Later, Lim claimed this sale did not extend to the Megaport and Formoz music festivals. Though the Wall has taken over management of the two festivals in recent years, Lim's company Taiwan Rock Alliance launched Megaport in 2006 and grew Formoz to international prominence in the early 2000s. This is not the kind of pretty story, but perhaps one suitable to the Year of the Snake. A source at The Wall recently confirmed that Megaport would take a break this year, so that the company can retrench and prepare a big summer festival. Most likely, it will not be called Formoz.