Wesley Cook had never set foot in America until he went to college at the University of Georgia. He was 17.
And for the last 15 years, he’s been a touring artist, putting out new tracks and bringing his unique vibe and sound to the music scene.
Cook has played at Bragg Jam multiple times and will be back this year on July 27.
As part of The Telegraph’s series highlighting some of the artists coming to the event, we sat down with Cook to get to know him better.
Editor’s note: Some responses have been edited for brevity.
What should people know about you?
My bio is kinda weird. I was actually born and raised in former West Germany. I was there until I was 10, and then I lived in South Korea for seven years until I graduated from high school. My parents are both American, so English is my first language, but I didn’t meet Americans really until I got to Korea. My dad is a teacher. It is not the same as an Army brat. I didn’t live on the base. I didn’t have an American experience, so to speak. I got to the U.S. when I was 17 and got to UGA. I graduated with a degree in linguistics. I started my music career in Athens right after I graduated and have been doing it ever since. This is home for me now.
What got you into music?
Music has just been around me my whole life. Both of my parents are really into it. All my siblings play something or sing. I think it is just in my genes really. And I didn’t really go for it until high school. I started learning guitar when I was like 5 or 6 because I wanted to be cool. But then I was like, ‘Oh man, this takes effort.’ And my teacher hated me. So I dropped it after like a month. Then when I was 12 or 11 and I was like, ‘You know, chicks like guys who play guitar and I like chicks ... I am going to learn to play guitar.’
Who were some of your influences growing up?
I was raised listening to a lot of stuff. I was listening to music from different countries. My big three are Dave Matthews, Paul Simon and Leonard Cohen.
You have played Bragg Jam before. What is it like getting to come back and do that each year?
I have dear dear friends down there (Macon) who I met going to Georgia, who are from there. I have played there in Macon during my career over the years. Bragg Jam is just one of the reasons I get to go back there on a consistent basis.
Is there anything you enjoy about Macon in particular?
I have discovered that Macon really gives a s**t about its music. There are certainly places I feel like its kind of a thing. There is an organic vibe that happens there. I really don’t know how to describe it. It’s a cool, chill town. I like hanging out there sometimes cause it is just a change of pace for me. I am just glad that Macon appreciates what I do and overall appreciates my vibe. It is a balance of me doing me but taking you into consideration while I am doing it.
What is a Wesley Cook show like?
That kind of changes sometimes with the vibe of the venue. I have been doing this for 15 years, so a lot of life happens. I have a lot of upbeat, playful stuff. My brother committed suicide seven years ago, so there is a whole album about that and the fallout from that. I have had a devastating break-up, so there is some stuff from that. I also like to throw in some covers depending on what the vibe feels like to me. I kinda just want to run the gambit a little bit. It will kind of be a grab bag of things. I really like talking to the audience and just interacting with them.
Are there any songs in particular that you feel like people should check out before the show?
I think the stuff off my last album, “Heavy,” would be some of the headliners for me. There is a playful, romantic one called up “Up the Wall.” I mean, I love all my children. The main work I wrote about my brother’s passing and that whole drama is “Where We Want to Be.” That is very important to me personally. A lot of stuff from that album stuck with a lot of people. I also released a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and I know that is overdone to s***, but I played that once years ago and people never let that go. So I put it out and it is the only cover I’ve put out. If that is your jam, check it out.
If someone has never been to Bragg Jam, why should they come to check it out?
I can tell you these people work their asses off to represent the city and bring you the highest quality of music possible. They bring out a living catalog that is Bragg Jam and if for no other reason it gives you a wonderful dose of energy for a weekend.