ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 6, 2001
By Steve Newton
A lot of musicians catch the music bug early on in life, though usually not as early as 18-year-old blues guitarist Jordan Cook. After he was born, the first thing Cook heard on a regular basis was the sound of his dad taking blues-guitar lessons. “It was the first music I ever heard,” reports Cook from his home in Saskatoon, “and I absolutely fell in love with it. My dad noticed that it caught my ear, so he bought me a guitar at the age of, like, one, ’cause he didn’t want me jumping on his and breaking it.
“So I just picked along as much as I could at the time, and then next thing you know he’s taking me down to watch local blues jams, all-ages things, in a bar. Every Saturday afternoon me and my dad would go down there, and the bands started noticing, so they were like, ‘Who’s this kid who’s always here?’ They got me up at the age of six, and I’ve been playing professionally, I guess you’d call it, ever since then.”
Although still in high school, Cook has managed to score classroom bragging rights by sharing stages with such well-known rock and blues artists as Taj Mahal, Edgar Winter, Jonny Lang, Rick Derringer, and B.B. King. He actually performed several tunes with King at Switzerland’s famed Montreux Jazz Festival. “I’ve had opportunities to play with lots of people,” he says, “but I don’t think there’ll ever be anybody that’ll top B.B. King, ’cause he took me to a place I’ve never been on-stage before. I’m a different person once I hit the stage, I find, and I never get nervous, but when I was up there with B.B. I could not believe what I was doing at all.”
For a taste of the next generation of Canadian blues pickers, you might consider hitting the Yale on Friday and Saturday (December 7 and 8), when Cook performs with fellow teenagers Dave Berry (bass) and Danny White (drums). So how do these underage kids manage to circumvent the “No Minors” rule in licensed clubs, anyway? “I honestly don’t know how that works,” he replies. “But the only place we’ve really ran into trouble was Manitoba—they put up a big fuss about it, but we still pulled it off. And in Alberta we needed permits and stuff like that, but everywhere else seemed to be really good.”
Vancouver’s city fathers needn’t be too concerned about Cook taking advantage of his local appearance to sneak behind the bar and attach his mouth directly to the beer tap, à la Barney Gumble. He’s not the least bit interested in discovering the wonders of intoxication. “That’s the thing I’ve been really lucky about,” he relates, “ever since I was young, seeing all the stupid idiots that are out there, you know. It kind of makes me wake up and more or less focus on what I want to do.”