Ryan Cook has always loved the music of the legendary Hank Williams.
That connection deepened for the singer-songwriter from Yarmouth in 2008, when he took the stage at Live Bait Theatre in Sackville, New Brunswick.
“We will go on that and figure the rest out,” Cook recalled, with a laugh, of the director’s approach, when it came to him playing Williams in the stage production of Maynard Collins’ two-act play The Show He Never Gave.
He had film and television experience, but none on the stage. Nevertheless, his ability to sing the tunes – like Williams – trumped everything else.
“That’s where everything started,” Cook said.
Describing himself as a “lover of his music,” he decided to continue to bring Williams life to the stage with his tribute shows to the legendary artist and his band, The Drifting Cowboys.
Cook explained his show, which the Chedabucto Place Association is bringing to the Chedabucto Place Performance Centre in Guysborough, is, essentially, “the same as the original.”
“There is more improvisation and in the current day,” he said, adding it is “more like a concert.”
Cook said the modifications were made to adapt the show for a festival stage or “listening room style pub.”
“We have always gotten a great response,” he said.
Cook added they always play for “enthusiastic audiences.”
Along with bandmates the Drifting Cowboys, he will present a two-act performance that includes 22 songs from Williams.
As a show description notes, Cook and company re-create the sounds of Don Helms’ haunting steel guitar, Jerry Rivers fiddle arrangements and the yodelling of the lovesick boy from Georgiana – Luke the Drifter – Hank Williams.
“It has been an experience,” Cook said of his Williams journey.
Since preparing for that first theatre performance, a decade or so ago, he has learned as much as possible about Williams, even travelling to his home in Alabama.
“He has an amazing story,” Cook said.
As for his favourite part of the show, he pointed to performing (I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle, a song that chronicles where Williams grew up.
“It is such a great song that paints the picture of his life,” Cook said.
The Guysborough County performance will take centre stage Sunday, Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m.
For more information, including tickets, call 902-533-2015.”
“It is going to be a great show,” Cook said.