Interview: Phil Cook – playing at First Avenue 3/18/2016


Folk artist Phil Cook has been in music for over a decade and has played in multiple groups. Originally from Eau Claire moved to Durham, NC. His latest tour is for his newest album “Southland Mission”. The album has a familiar edge to it, but that only draws you in so you hear the unique style that Phil Cook brings to the stage. He will be playing First Avenue on 3/18 opening for The Pines. Tickets are available HERE TCM caught up with Phil before he got on the road.

Tell me about the tour?
We are hitting the road next Tuesday. Doing a full US tour. WE are hitting the whole country, starting next Tuesday till April 9th. It should be really great.

Were the any specific inspirations for Southland Mission?
Absolutely. It is basically all my inspirations that I’ve had since I was 14 and woke up to music and making it my life. So in a big way it’s really encompassing everything. In a specific way it is still an idiom in southern characteristics. I have spent so much time listening to Sly and The Family Stone, The Allman Brothers band, Doc Watson, The Staple Singers. All of that is part of my inspiration.

What started that passion for music when you were 14?
My dad had a great record collection. He had a lot of great 60’s music. Typical stuff like the Grateful Dead, Carole King, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and pretty great stuff like that. He also had some very different records. The one that got me was a band called the Butterfield Blues band. They were an integrated blues band in the 60’s in Chicago.
The harmonica player really got me and that sent me down the path of blues.

What do you look for in a band other than the sound of the music they are playing?
It is usually pretty organic. There are opportunities that come up, but they are all pretty direct ties. So far i haven’t had any big introductions to anyone. It has all been one thing leading to another until we build up to the point of doing something. To me it is all about vibe. It’s about having a good dynamic between me and you. To me it isn’t about skill level, but that tends to run in the circles you are in. Good musicians find good musicians. It just happens as long as you are doing the things that you are supposed to be doing. You will meet the right people.

That sound like it takes a lot of discipline.
You have to have a hunger to play and to keep on that path of mastery.  It is a lifelong path, you’ve got to be on the path and making progress on it in some way, shape, or form. That does me you have to have lots of discipline, but it also means you have to take risks. You have to go into some risky situations. Everyone that I hired for the upcoming tour are all better than me because it makes me better. Taking risks and stepping out musically and artistically keeps the audience present as well as me present.