Ryan Cook playing Westfield

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In one corner we have Ryan Cook, and award winning musician with a new CD out. In the other is scrappy newcomer Jennah Barry. The two are coming together at the Westfield Community Hall on Friday March 1, where Cook will kicking off the launch of his new CD Wrestling with Demons. 

Ryan Cook will be joined by Jenna Barry on Friday March 1 in Westfield, where he will kick off his tour promoting his new CD, Wrestling with Demons. 

Like a lot of Cook's music, this latest album offers a traditional country sound with contemporary lyrics. His themes are rooted in 21st-century culture, but the crisp, clear sound of the steel guitar harkens listeners back to country's early days.

“My goal has always been to blend traditional-sounding music, whether it be western swing or country or folk and juxtapose that with really modern themes,” Cook said to the Yarmouth Vanguard earlier this month.

The contemporary themes are trumpeted in titles like Facebook WaltzLulu Lemon and Children of the Corn(about genetically modified food). But he isn’t above reaching back into country’s rich history, either.  He covers I Don't Hurt Anymore, an old song first made popular by Hank Snow in the 1950s, in a duet with Nova Scotia singer/songwriter Jennah Barry.

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) features heavily in the art on the CD cover for his new album, Wrestling with Demons. A childhood fan of the WWF, Cook has amassed a huge collection of vintage memorabilia (some of which was sold to help pay for the album).

He remains fascinated by the WWE’s larger-than-life performers and in a strange way finds himself relating to the reality of their lives, which were driven by heavy performance demands that eventually took a toll on their industry, their lives and in some instances their sanity.

“It’s just that moment when you realize that truth is so much stranger than fiction,” he says, adding,  “Now I’m a 31-year-old guy that spends my life travelling, and sleeping on people’s couches, and lugging stuff through airports, and always being tired. And I kind of feel some weird connection.”

The daughter of a choir director and the hardest working man in Nova Scotia, Jennah Barry is a singer, songwriter and musician. Barry grew up in a tiny ocean town studying classical piano, taking voice lessons from her mother and listening to pop music. She eventually moved to Toronto in 2006 to attend Humber College School of Contemporary Music and study jazz.

Much of her formative songwriting happened on the floor of a small apartment in that final year of college and only days after Barry graduated, she swiftly moved back to Nova Scotia. With a book of songs unheard by anyone but herself, Barry soon met with Diego Medina (Chad VanGaalen, Matt Mays, Al Tuck) to record an album at his studio, The Old Confidence Lodge in Riverport, Nova Scotia.

The result was her album Young Men, released last year.

The night is also a fundraiser for the Westfield Community Centre. The show is for 19 and older, as a bar will be open that evening.

Before the show kicks off though, the community is hosting a social hour from 7 to 8 p.m. Then Cook and Barry will take the stage for their performance. The show doesn't end there though. Afterwards anyone interested in playing a tune or two can come up for the open jam session.

MC for the evening is Jonathan Crouse, DJ for Hank FM in Bridgewater, who is sure to keep things lively.

Tickets are $10 and being sold in advance at Noah's Gas Bar in Caledonia (682-3003), the Moss Pot in Liverpool (356-6677), or through Marie MacLeod (682-2692).


With files from the Yarmouth Vanguard

Organizations: Humber College School of Contemporary Music, World Wrestling Entertainment, WWF Westfield Community Centre

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Toronto, Riverport Caledonia Liverpool

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