Andy Cook is an awfully nice fella. Cook recently relocated to Columbus from Oberlin, a small city in northeast Ohio. He has gained some notoriety around the capital city by playing both solo shows and dates with accompaniment as Andy Cook and the Wanderloons. I caught one of the 20-something’s performances at a local art gallery a few weeks ago, where a really cool project called the Community Music Jukebox — a digital music jukebox featuring only local artists, and they’re placed at art- and music-oriented places around the city, with songs for just 25 cents. Cook is one of the artists featured on the brand-spankin’ new music box, and he performed at the get-together celebrating its unveiling.
It’s immediately apparent from watching Cook perform that he lives to write, sing and record music. Cook fell into songwriting following the passing of his mother at a very young age, and it’s clear he relishes the opportunity to be a musical storyteller. The 10 songs on his debut record Sing, Dionysus are as interesting for the composition — Cook plays the banjo, guitar, Wurlitzer, drums and more on the record, in addition to singing and having help from countless friends and Wanderloons — as they are for their lyrical strength.
The track we’re featuring here, “Under The White Pine,” features a fantastic male-female vocal pairing, with Cook’s friend Haley Antell taking center stage for a bit. Cook was kind enough to tell us a little bit about how the song, which was partly inspired by the William Carlos Williams poem “The Red Wheelbarrow“, came to be:
(Bandmate) Eric Cronstein and myself recorded that particular song at my apartment in Oberlin, Ohio. The upright bass being played by Laura Dykes, who would later be the bass player for the Wanderloons for little over a year. We asked another fellow Oberlin Musician/Singer/Songwriter, Haley Antell (who would also become a Wanderloons member for the same span as Laura) to come over and record backing vocals for the song. Originally the end part was going to have my vocal melody mixed as the lead vocal and have Haley singing her part as a backing harmony but when she started singing her harmony with me, it was very obvious that we needed to rework the end section of the song around her part. I think it’s incredibly powerful just like her voice and personal touch as a singer… The rest was all built around really great mistakes.
The second song we offer here is the one that told me I needed to meet Cook after his set at the art gallery. It’s entitled “Wind and Willow’s Song of Boats.” Lyrically, I think it’s the strongest track on the album. And the banjo, backing harmonies and string accompaniment flesh out Cook’s words quite nicely.