It has been over a week since I saw Doug Koyama and Scott Cook perform in Kelowna. It was a show announcement that pleasantly caught me off guard leading up to my planned visit to the area over the course of that week. They performed on the grounds of the Woodhaven Eco-Culture Centre on the Woodhaven Nature Conservancy, a unique Eco-Art partnership formed by the Regional District of the Central Okanagan and the University of British Columbia (UBC-Okanagan) Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies. It was part of a week long concert series that was a pilot project led by local artists who are working to expand the use of the space for artistic offerings in the community.
The night was surprisingly special, not only because I attended the show with both one of my oldest and closest friends and a brand new one, but because the space was completely inspired. I love the possibility that this place holds for music.
I made a point to be there because of who was performing. I try to see artists who have played at my local venue (Serenity Performing Arts Centre) elsewhere when I can. Both Doug Koyama and Scott Cook have ties to Serenity that venue owner Shirley de Vooght has every intention to continue strengthening.
I met Doug Koyama last year at Serenity’s first annual Harvest Music Festival. Doug had been invited by one of the headlining artists and he ended up fitting in immediately with our cozy crowd. Besides his helpful nature, Doug famously led many of the bonfire sing-alongs and gave a memorable performance on the festival’s last day on the stage during the all-bands jam sessions. The timing of this show was perfect because Doug is set to return to Serenity for our second annual festival in just a few days.
I came without a preconceived idea of what to expect from Doug’s set, although fully knowing that is part of the point when it comes to his improvisational performance style. I was immediately reminded about how special this man is, both in talent and in soul. What kept going through my head while he was performing was, “This is really brave.” In so many ways I feel that Doug’s music is a genuine reflection of how he lives his life; spontaneous, colourful, present, surprising, unpredictable, inspired, and fun. I couldn’t stop smiling throughout his set, taking in the joy he was experiencing while creating and sharing with us, and feeling happy to know that he was going to return to my neck of the woods very soon.
The night had an extra dose of sentimentality learning that Doug Koyama and Scott Cook are good friends who have known each other from being on the road attending many of the same music festivals over the years. Scott Cook remarked that Doug has been somewhat of a mentor to him which was touching and kind.
Scott Cook and his band the Second Chances played a night of music that made me feel as if I had been transported to the Louisiana bayou on a warm summer’s night. His catchy melodies, smooth deep voice, and master storytelling combine to provide an overall experience that is pure enjoyment. Scott had his mainstay banjo player Bramwell Park by his side, whose talent is immense and brings both a crisp yet gentle and lovely sound to the music. Lindsay Woolgar was on the upright bass after only meeting Scott 4 days prior (kudos to Lindsay for doing a fine job indeed filling in for Melissa Walker who was participating in the Peak Performance Project with her other band Two Bears North). Lindsay added much heart to Scott’s existing charm.
Watching Scott Cook perform is just plain fun. He has this timeless appeal and quality to his style; incredibly accessible and humble, while establishing an on stage persona that doesn’t miss a beat. He is a polished performer who knows how to engage an audience and brings you in as much as possible. Scott does not shy away from politics, judgments, or opinions in his songs. A true globetrotting musician, his vast knowledge of the world and ability to manage himself within the context of his ideals equates to a thought provoking folk singer/songwriter. As I melted into my chair and became more and more drawn in to the tales he was spinning through his music, the songs from the frogs and the crickets became the backdrop as the night went on. It was beautiful.
I picked up his new album at the end of the show. Some people might say that an album cover and inside jacket might not mean anything, but when Scott Cook releases a record blanketed by a personal photo album of him and his friends at a park playing ‘Beersbie’ complete with the game instructions inside, you better know you’ve found someone special.
Choice tracks from ‘Scott Cook and the Long Weekends Go Long’: “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”: a hilarious take on the after-show sing-a-long music festival experience of a seasoned artist; “I Live Down Here”: co-written with Raghu Lokanathan with a well-crafted political message at its core (ignited by the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline), this song has a melody that is hard to beat; “While the Party’s Still Going”: a sweet folk tune that gives you a glimpse into the heart and mind of this balladeer.
Scott Cook and Doug Koyama performed as part of the Woodhaven concert series at the Woodhaven Eco-Culture Centre in Kelowna, BC on August 27, 2015.
Scott Cook is currently on a North American tour. Visit http://www.scottcook.net for tour dates, links to music, social media feeds and more.
Doug Koyama can next be seen at the Serenity Harvest Music Festival in Birch Island just outside Clearwater BC on September 11-13. He currently has a ‘gofundme’ campaign to assist him in joining Vancouver painter Paula Nishikawara in Berlin to participate in an event that combines music and art in a co-creative format. Visit http://www.gofundme.com/ThenwetakeBerlin to learn more about this amazing opportunity that you can support and receive some incredible gifts in return and visit http://www.koyama.bc.ca to learn more about Doug’s music and himself as an artist.