This month’s show is his first performance in the area for 2012, then he sets out on a Maritime/Ontario 20-week tour.
He says he has a new strategy for his hometown.
“I’m going to play just a few times a year and make them really memorable performances so I don't burn out my welcome,” he said.
“It's ironic that Yarmouth is always the first big show of any tour I do, I'm not sure why, but it just happens that way,” he said.
Cook says he likes being “busy, really busy.”
This is his fifth year performing full-time in music and the fifth year in a row that he will perform more than 100 shows in a calendar year.
He says if he could, he would be performing 200 shows a year. It’s the favourite part of his career. The recording, showcasing, songwriting, self-managing, booking, accounting and social networking don't excite him much, but performing is his true love.
“It's what keeps me hanging in there; that and the fans and friends I've met along the way. I try not to refer to anyone as a fan, though, as I know almost all of them by name and have met most of them personally. I like to think of them as friends,” he said.
Cook won Country Recording of the Year at the 2011 Music Nova Scotia Awards. He was the winner of the 2008 and 2011 Music Nova Scotia Country/Bluegrass Album of the Year award, won Album of the Year from Country Music News in 2010 and was nominated for two East Coast Music Awards this year.
But fame doesn’t appear to be his most important goal. Don't expect to see him on Canada's Got Talent or any other reality television show in the coming years, he warns.
As much as people encourage him to do so, he’s not really trying to carve out a commercial career for himself.
“Naturally, I'd love to emerge on an international level but I really enjoy this folk circuit of smaller venues, playhouses, theatres, festivals, etc. I just want to make memorable, intelligent country music, that is organic at heart and free of all the commercial additives,” he said.
Because mainstream country radio doesn't embrace that kind of sound, he says he’s had to disconnect himself with that market to some degree.
“I’m going to play just a few times a year and make them really memorable performances so I don't burn out my welcome.” - Ryan Cook
Although he’s had lots of opportunities to play bigger stages, opening for Dwight Yoakam, and with Taylor Swift at Cavendish Beach Music Festival on PEI, he says those performances were never as fun as playing a stage like Th'YARC.
“My songwriting, and my style perhaps, are better suited for theatre stages -the lights are dimmed, the audience faces the stage, there are no television sets, drunken screamers or smart phones to compete with. It allows me the opportunity to have the audience’s undivided attention, which is a big advantage when playing story-driven songs like the ones I perform,” he said.
His 2011 tour with Travis Tritt saw some performances with crowds of about 1,000 each night, yet still a very intimate setting. For Cook, those are always more memorable than the loud rock-style concerts with drums, smoke machines and a lot of “hoopla.”
“But, again maybe that's just me and my taste, I'm old-fashioned like that,” he said.
Cook is currently in the development stages of recording and producing his next full-length album in Nashville, Tennessee.
The album is tentatively scheduled for an early 2013 release in Canada.
For the May 11 show at Th’YARC, Cameron Nickerson of the Rockabillys will be opening with five songs.
Performing with Cook will be longtime stage mates Brad Reid on bass fiddle, Robin Dellinger on lead guitar and Kevin Roach on Mandolin.
Cook will present some new material that he wrote in Nashville last winter as well as some classic country hits from the past that he is polishing up.
“I'm really excited to play for the hometown crowd and will bring my best stories and songs, along with a few talented friends and a few country hits from years gone by,” he said.
Tickets for the May 11 show are $17.50 for the general public and $16.50 for TH’YARC members.
Call the box office at 902-742-8150.