Having won over judges at competitions around Canada and the United States with his uniquely Canadian style, Ontario born fiddle player Shane Cook is coming to Whitehorse this Rendezvous for his first gig north of 60. “I’m expecting it to be cold. I just went out and bought a new pair of long johns,” said Cook.
Cook’s musical career jump started when he won a U.S national fiddle championship in Idaho. “It was a blind competition so the judges were in a totally separate room. I had dedicated a big part of my life to Texas swing style music, which is what they look for in the US national fiddle championship. I guess I managed to sneak through somehow despite being Canadian and it’s funny because they put an end to the blind competition after that,” he said. While his win ruffled some feathers in Idaho, he said it opened a lot of new doors for him by getting him noticed among his peers. I got to meet so many of my fiddle heroes. Nobody was more surprised than me when that happened,” he said.
With deep roots in Dorchester, Ontario, playing fiddle is a family tradition in the Cook family. “My dad was a fiddler and there was a long line of fiddlers before him down in southern Ontario. I grew up playing that same type of fiddle that my Dad plays,” said Cook. The style that he grew up in is sometimes referred to as “Ottawa Valley” fiddling and draws on a variety of influences from Quebecois folk to Scotch-Irish, Swing and Bluegrass. Cook says this makes it easy for him to transition between. “I flirt between all of these worlds,” he said.
Cook is especially looking forward to working with the Fiddleheads, who many of us know as an especially talented group of Yukon youth. The Fiddleheads are opening for Cook at both shows, along with their guests Fiddelium from Nanaimo, British Columbia. “I’m looking forward to getting together and working with some of the kids there, giving fiddle and stepdance classes between concerts. I grew up going to a lot of fiddle contests and festivals with my dad and my brother… So it’s nice to continue that. There’s something that happens when you get together with musicians of a like mind. They have a way of bringing something out of you,” he said.
Cook is mentioned in the Canadian Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame as one of the “finest fiddlers in the world today.” He’s a Western University grad living in London, Ontario.
He said that the majority of the tunes he’ll be playing are made with step-dancing in mind and hopes to convey that to the audience. “It’s joyous music it’s almost all dance music from different traditions… I hope that anybody who comes to the will leave feeling brighter after.”
The concert happens at the Yukon Arts Centre Mainstage Feb 21 and 22. Tickets for the event can be found on Shane Cook’s website or through the Yukon Arts Centre.