Jesse Cook’s talent has traveled the globe

Jesse Cook’s talent has traveled the globe


Jesse Cook is a talented performer whose “masterful, intricate, fluid and melodic finger-picking guitar technique and musicianship” have won him international acclaim and a JUNO Award, the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy.

But critic Harriet Kaplan, writing about a November performance in Los Angeles, saw on stage what Cook also demonstrated in a recent interview: “The Canadian artist is not only a virtuoso acoustic guitarist, but an engaging and gregarious frontman.” In the space of perhaps 20 minutes on the phone, Cook talked easily about a dozen subjects. The highlights are chronicled here in his words:

“It’s hard to separate my own memories from my mother’s. She claims when I was 2 — we were living in Barcelona — she claims there was this little toy guitar, and I walked around the apartment singing ‘Guantanamera.’ My first real musical memory was being in Canada — we moved when I was 4 — and I remember going through my parents’ 45s and playing the Beatles. I had a three-quarter size guitar, and I was strumming that. It’s all jumbled up in the recesses of my mind! But secretly, there’s a little bit of Beatles in everything I do.”

“I was born in France, got my first guitar when we were living in Spain, and in Canada my first guitar teacher was a flamenco guitarist. I think it was a conspiracy! Dad stayed in Europe [when Cook’s parents separated], so when I about 14, he bought a house in a gypsy barrio in the French city of Arles in the Camargue. I was just captivated by kids in the street strumming the guitar the way I do now. Gypsy kids treated the guitar like a percussion instrument, and I fell in love with that.”

“I went into jazz, but jazz wasn’t really speaking to me. I played in a rock band. I had to play electric guitar at Berklee. But the one that always felt right for me was this style.”

“I had a thing happen last year, where at the end of the ‘Beyond Borders’ tour, the band that I’d been playing with for some time decided we wanted to go our separate ways. I spent the summer searching for musicians doing things I thought were really great. Miles Davis would change his band every three or four years; I never did that. But a whole new band is really kind of inspiring to be around. It’s a different kind of energy. I do feel a little guilty, like this is not my band! But I’m thrilled to see the old band out doing other fantastic things, too.”

“It’s a funny thing. I was just writing a note about the end of 2019, and the end of the decade, thinking about the fact I get to travel the world and make music and chase my muse and do this wonderful thing I love. It’s fantastic. I feel like I got the winning lottery ticket. In my 20s, I was a composer/musical director/producer, and I had to say ‘yes’ to every project — and there were times when I was eating more Kraft mac and cheese than I needed to — but I never had a day job. I’ve always been able to work in music.”



Jesse Cook

WHEN — 8 p.m. Jan. 10

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $25-$45

INFO — 443-5600,

BONUS — Cook will also play at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11 at the Reynolds Performance Hall on the University of Central Arkansas campus in Conway. The AETN Foundation is the exclusive outlet for the tickets, which are available for a donation of $50 for a floor seat or $30 for a balcony seat at

Categories: Family Friendly