Exodus of Venus: Elizabeth Cook swings through WNC
Don’t fuck with Elizabeth Cook.
In a city like Nashville, where your artistic integrity and credibility can be bought and sold to the highest bidder, Cook has remained a proud outsider, one whose stance on the fringe is quickly becoming the center of the melodic universe as tastes are changing, more like maturing, or even returning to the normalcy of what we regard now as “classic country” and “nitty gritty rock-n-roll.”
And as the pop country sugar high of mainstream radio slowly crashes, and all that’s left standing is a great song sung by an even greater voice, Cook pushes ahead, casting aside personal and professional labels, where honesty and pure intent means a hell of a lot more than any kind of plastic accolade or pre-programmed attitude.
Simply put, you can’t pin down Elizabeth Cook’s music, nor does she want you to. It’s good, damn good, and that’s all that matters.
The Smoky Mountain News caught up with Cook as she prepares to take the stage on Friday, Nov. 24, at The Altamont Theatre in Asheville.
Smoky Mountain News: There’s a lot of strong female voices pushing through the Nashville scene right now. Yourself, Margo Price, Nikki Lane, Bonnie Bishop, and so forth. What does that say about the scene currently? And what do you see as your role, and perhaps responsibility, in being a fiercely independent female act on the big platform that is the Nashville music?
Elizabeth Cook: It’s just a different kind of wave that takes shine to the beach for a moment. I'm grateful for it and welcome it when it comes around. Nothing is here to stay. I think it's my gig to keep trying to improve my music for myself and everyone...the way I write it, record it and play it so we can all have matching sports cars to ride around our neighborhood and maybe one day, even have our own parade. My role is also behind the scenes...to be like, “Girl, those pantyhose are not gonna work at that festival, call me” or “I left you some weed and tea bags behind the switch plate at Knuckleheads.”
SMN: Your music straddles the lines of rock-n-roll and country music. And yet, no matter how one may classify it, at the end of that day, it’s good music, and that’s all that matters, one could surmise. What about that blurred line between those two genres is appealing, and inspiring, to you?
EC: I could give two shits about genre.
SMN: What do you make of what they call “country music” these days? I find it funny how the “real deal” gets pushed into the Americana label, for fear if folks heard what the “real deal” was (or is), then the jig of pop country would be up…
EC: I don’t know who "they" are, but to quote Merle Haggard, "If I ever find out, I'm gonna kick their ass." And I know for a fact that people are defecting from commercial music as Americana music is discovered and ways to enjoy it are more accessible, like Outlaw County on SiriusXM.
SMN: What is the biggest misconception about Elizabeth Cook? And, with that, how do you address that misconception?
EC: I'm not sure I'm up to speed on my varying misconceptions, but I think one is I'm not a good cook, and I'm a great cook. I also had a lady say on my Facebook page to stop texting people's husbands, and I'd like to say that is absolutely true. I text a lot of people's husbands, as well as wives, uncles, brothers, pets. It is also true I failed all my drug tests in rehab, but I demand a rematch.
SMN: With your initial major label signing, you’ve spoken at-length about how the record company wanted to fit you into that pop-country mold. What within you and your intent, at that time, bubbled up when that notion came about, and what does that say about where you are today, in terms of your creativity and ultimate message and intent?
EC: It was like putting on platform shoes. I'm not a pole dancer. It looked fun and we were poor, so I tried. If I put on platform shoes today, I would fall over and break both my ankles immediately.
Want to go?
Elizabeth Cook and Darrin Bradbury will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24, at The Altamont Theatre in Asheville. Tickets are $17 in advance, $20 day-of-show. To purchase tickets, click on www.thealtamonttheatre.com. Presented by Worthwhile Sounds.