Jesse Cook

Emporium Presents

Friday, January 28, 2022
8:00 pm
Doors Open:
7:00 pm
TICKETS
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$39.50-$55

A career spanning twenty five years has brought this Canadian guitarist multiple accolades including a coveted Acoustic Guitar Magazine ‘Player’s Choice Silver Award’, eleven Juno Award nominations (he won for 2001’s ‘Free Fall’), a Gemini Award and, most impressively, ten platinum and gold studio albums.

Moreover, he has sold out concert halls the world over, produced five PBS television specials and five live CD’s. Not a bad legacy for a guy who never planned to release an album.

"If you had asked me at age 22, I would have said that I would never, never make music for the public," Jesse Cook says with a laugh. "I would have told you that the public is much too fickle — they may love you one minute and forget you the next. Well, it turns out I did the thing I said I'd never do, and somehow it's worked out."

That's an understatement. Since launching his career with 1995's Tempest, Cook has blazed an incredible trail. Along with being a global-guitar virtuoso, he's honed his skills as a composer, producer, arranger, performer and, more recently, filmmaker and cultural ambassador. Surprisingly, he started down many of those paths before he even started school.

As a child he was introduced to flamenco while spending summers at his father’s house in the Camargue region of southern France. John Cook’s neighbour happened to be Nico Reyes, guitarist for The Gypsy Kings. Meanwhile his mother, Heather Cook, with whom he lived, enrolled him in Toronto’s prestigious Eli Kassner Guitar Academy.

Cook’s musical education continued at the world renowned Royal Conservatory, Toronto’s York University and the esteemed Berklee College in Boston. He set his sights on a career as a composer. That was until an Ontario cable TV company aired his music on the listings channel.

"Their switchboard got flooded with calls," he recalls. "People even got my number somehow and started phoning me at home and asking for a CD. And I was saying, 'I don't have a CD, I'm a background composer guy. I don't make records.' "

This proved to be a critical turning point leading Cook to self-produce Tempest at home using an eight-track recorder and one microphone. Then he delivered the initial run of 1,000 CDs from the plant to the distributor in his car. Those humble beginnings quickly sparked a mighty international career.

Canadian television appearances followed and so too did important gigs in the US. If he must point to one it was the 1995 Catalina Jazz Festival where his playing earned a 10-minute standing ovation, sparked mob scenes — "It was like being The Beatles," he marvels — and prompted one store to order enough copies of Tempest to land it at No.14 in Billboard.

In Poland, his 2004 live album Montreal took the country by storm. In India, he gained fame after one of his songs was plagiarized for a major Bollywood movie. ("In India, that's allowed," he explains. "They call it cultural appropriation — it obviously doesn't mean the same thing there.") In Iraq, his instrumentals score the nightly news. Elsewhere, they've accompanied gymnastics and skating routines at the Olympics.

“In Torino, the Japanese skater and the Russian skater both competed using the same song (Mario Takes A Walk). One of them won. I think I should have got bronze," he says laughing.

It’s no wonder Cook also jokes that his music "has had a way more interesting life" than he's had. But lately, that international appeal — reflected in a compositional style that mixes flamenco with everything from classical and jazz to Zydeco, blues and Brazilian samba — has become something he takes more seriously.

"If music can come from around the world and interconnect so beautifully to create this beautiful tapestry, maybe there's something that music can teach us."

Over the course of his first twenty -five years making award winning music for a global audience Cook could be forgiven should he contemplate retiring or, as he puts it, ‘hanging out at my cottage dipping my toes in the water.” But the fact is he loves creating music. And, there’s also the matter of some unfinished business interrupted by the pandemic.

“Tempest 25’ the reissue of his debut album (released 25 years prior) had been amongst those pre-Covid plans. So too had been another world tour in support of its release. Cook, like most of us, found himself house bound due to travel restrictions.

“The first year with no touring since my career began. I needed a mountain to climb” Cook quips.

So, Cook got to work producing 23 (and counting) extraordinary solo YouTube videos of his favourite songs in which he played all the instruments, recorded, and filmed himself. The collection is called “Love in the Time of Covid” Not only have they pleased his existing fan base but this YouTube video collection has expanded his worldwide audience who are now craving that soon to be announced world tour.

Jesse Cook, clearly, has many more years of memorable performances ahead of him.

Map & Directions
Theatre Address

Palace of Fine Arts Theatre
3301 Lyon Street
San Francisco, CA 94123

Directions from your address
From the North Bay to Theatre Parking

Cross the Golden Gate Bridge and follow signs indicating Downtown San Francisco. Stay to the left and take the Marina exit; you’ll see the sign overhead. While you might be tempted to take a right at the first stop light (Lyon Street) and pull directly into the Palace of Fine Arts, pass the Lyon Street entrance and proceed straight on Marina Boulevard. Then:

  1. Right on Baker Street
  2. Left on Jefferson Street
  3. Left on Broderick Street
  4. Left on Marina Boulevard, then immediately move into the right lane
  5. Either:
  6. Turn right on Yacht Road and follow signs for Palace of Fine Arts parking (lot is next to the St. Francis Yacht Club).
  7. Or continue on Marina onto Mason Street. The alternate parking lot will be on your left (see map). Please note that there is a walkway from this lot to the back of the main Theatre lot.


NOTE: Avoid bearing left on Marina Boulevard; that stretch of Marina Boulevard turns into an onramp for Highway 101 and the Golden Gate Bridge. If you inadvertently end up on the approach to the Bridge, don’t worry; you’ll have a chance to exit to the right just before the toll plaza. You can then make your way back to the Palace of Fine Arts through the Presidio or retry the directions from above.

From East Bay to Theatre parking

Cross the Bay Bridge. Follow the signs to the 9th Street exit. Stay in the right-hand lane. Go one block and turn right onto 9th Street. Stay in the left-hand lane. Immediately after Market Street, veer left onto Hayes Street. Then:

  1. Right on Van Ness Avenue (look for signs to the Golden Gate Bridge)
  2. Left on Lombard Street; once on Lombard, get into the right-hand lane
  3. Right on Divisadero Street
  4. Left on Marina Boulevard, then immediately move into the right lane
  5. Either:
  6. Turn right on Yacht Road and follow signs for Palace of Fine Arts parking (lot is next to the St. Francis Yacht Club).
  7. Or continue on Marina onto Mason Street. The alternate parking lot will be on your left (see map). Please note that there is a walkway from this lot to the back of the main Theatre lot.


NOTE: Avoid bearing left on Marina Boulevard; that stretch of Marina Boulevard turns into an onramp for Highway 101 and the Golden Gate Bridge. If you inadvertently end up on the approach to the Bridge, don’t worry; you’ll have a chance to exit to the right just before the toll plaza. You can then make your way back to the Palace of Fine Arts through the Presidio, or use the directions “From the North Bay,” above.

From the South Bay or Peninsula to Theatre Parking
From Highway 101

Take Highway 101 North to the Market Street/Van Ness exit. Take Van Ness to Lombard (look for signs to the Golden Gate Bridge). Turn left onto Lombard. Once on Lombard, get into the right-hand lane. Then:

  1. Right on Divisadero Street
  2. Left on Marina Boulevard, then immediately move into the right lane
  3. Turn right on Yacht Road and follow signs for Palace of Fine Arts parking (lot is next to the St. Francis Yacht Club). If you pass the lot, you’ll see signs on the right for additional parking at Crissy Field.

NOTE: Avoid bearing left on Marina Boulevard; that stretch of Marina Boulevard turns into an onramp for Highway 101 and the Golden Gate Bridge. If you inadvertently end up on the approach to the Bridge, don’t worry; you’ll have a chance to exit to the right just before the toll plaza. You can then make your way back to the Palace of Fine Arts through the Presidio, or use the directions “From the North Bay,” above.

From Interstate 280

Follow 19th Avenue through Golden Gate Park; 19th Avenue becomes Park Presidio Boulevard on the other side of the Park. Follow signs for the Highway 101 Detour. Then:

  1. Right on Geary Boulevard
  2. Left on Van Ness Avenue, move into left lanes
  3. Left on Lombard Street, get into the right-hand lane
  4. Right on Divisadero Street
  5. Left on Marina Boulevard, then immediately move into the right lane
  6. Turn right on Yacht Road and follow signs for Palace of Fine Arts parking (lot is next to the St. Francis Yacht Club). If you pass the lot, you’ll see signs on the right for additional parking at Crissy Field.


NOTE: Avoid bearing left on Marina Boulevard; that stretch of Marina Boulevard turns into an onramp for Highway 101 and the Golden Gate Bridge. If you inadvertently end up on the approach to the Bridge, don’t worry; you’ll have a chance to exit to the right just before the toll plaza. You can then make your way back to the Palace of Fine Arts through the Presidio, or use the directions “From the North Bay,” above.

Public Transportation

The Palace of Fine Arts Theatre has convenient access to public transportation. We are accessible by San Francisco Muni buses #30, #43, #28, and #29. Muni bus lines #22, #41, and #45 also stop in the vicinity. From Fisherman’s Wharf take the #30 Stockton bus. For more information, call Muni at (415) 673-6864 or check the SFMTA trip planner.

If you’re taking BART, get off at the Montgomery Street station, walk one half-block up Market Street to Third Street, and catch the #30 Stockton bus on the corner.

Virtually all downtown-bound Golden Gate Transit buses stop nearby the Theatre. Ask your driver for directions or call Golden Gate Transit Information at 511 (toll-free) or 415-455-2000 (outside the Bay Area).

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