Jesse Cook didn’t give many enthusiastic thumbs up to the music video directors he’s worked with.
The Canadian guitarist, who plays Sault Community Theatre Centre on Sunday, remembers one creative talent who was keen for Cook to have a love interest in the promotional work and wrap the object of his affections in Christmas lights.
"I don’t really understand what that means," Cook remembered thinking at the time. "What am I saying? It seemed like it was a fetish of his that I should somehow embrace that. I wasn’t sure what was going on."
In a career that’s run 25 years, Cook can only recall one video helmed by another that he "could connect to."
He’s since handled such promotional shoots for the last decade.
While he "didn’t know what I was doing" early on "at least they reflect me.
"They’re something I’ve made," said Cook. "It’s where I’m coming from."
Cook takes a "big step up" serving as the director of Beyond Borders, his fifth music special to be featured on PBS and the first to be broadcast nationally in the United States by the public broadcaster.
"It’s a huge deal for me," he told The Sault Star while en route to Belleville, Ont., in a recent interview. "It’s very exciting."
Cook, working with roadie William Went, used nine cameras to film 25 Canadian concerts to create Beyond Borders that aired on PBS stations this month. He needed 18 months to edit the material resulting from those shoots.
"In the end it worked out," said Cook. "It was a lot of fun."
The exposure on PBS, starting more than a decade ago with One Night at the Metropolis, is appreciated for music Cook acknowledges is "a little bit off the beaten path.
"You’re really relying on other ways to get to an audience," he said.
"Renegade" station programmers, word of mouth and the sharing of CDs are what Cook counts on to build public awareness. He also keeps an eye on how many times his songs are viewed on YouTube. Public interest on the video-sharing website helps sway what Cook will play in concert.
"In our case we don’t really have any hits," he said. "Certain songs become popular and half the time I don’t even know why, but there they are."
Irene Slutskaya, of Russia, won a bronze medal at 2006 Winter Olympics skating to Cook’s Mario Takes a Walk. The lead track from his second album, Gravity, is a definite for his setlist during his spring tour of Ontario and Quebec. Tempest and Fall at Your Feet also also firm selections.
Cook is grateful for what he’s accomplished in his music career, including a Juno Award for best instrumental album in 2001 for Free Fall.
"I’m totally surprised. I’m amazed by all of it," he said. "When you choose music as a career you have every expectation that you’re going to be driving a cab for the rest of your life. There’s no expectation that anything is going to happen. It’s a hard life most of the time. I consider myself incredibly lucky. I feel like I keep getting a winning lottery ticket over and over again."
Concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $51.50 plus box office surcharge and are on sale at Community Theatre Box Office at Station Mall or online at www.saultctc.ca