Phil Cook’s music makes me happy. So much that I have daydreamed about a reality, where when Phil and his band roll into town, pour out of whatever jalopy or tour van they are traveling in (Phil pulling his suspenders up around his shoulders) as the people happily and adoringly stream out of their homes in anticipation of the celebratory night of music that lays in wait for the whole town for old, young and everybody in between.

In a time where many musicians and artists are letting out frustrations with the current state of our country bubble up in their music, Cook pivoted on that, took those frustrations and created a musical style to celebrate being alive and the eternal hope that tomorrow will be a better day if you celebrate the people around you and focus on the positive.

Since his last album, Cook has been lucky enough to work with Mavis Staples and Blind Boys of Alabama. Brushing up with the soulful gospel sounds of greatness has certainly affected his music for the better. In addition to his band The Guitarheels – drummer JT Bates, bassist Michael Libramento and pianist James Wallace; Cook had his brother Brad produce the album. MC Taylor wrote the beautiful Tupelo Child. It’s a tender track about loving the ones who came before you; learning from them.

Amelia Heath of Sylvan Esso pops up on the album as she co-wrote the bluesy gospel track, Miles Away. I saw her perform with Phil up at Newport a couple of years back. This tune has this loose spur-of-the-moment feel to it. Another Mother’s Son is about as uplifting track about racial injustice as you’ll ever come across. It comes down to Phil’s unshakeable belief that we can all do better if we love and are loved.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Phil a few times and he’s one to meet you with a big smile plastered across his face. As I recently told a friend who heard Steampowered Blues on this post, his music just makes me happy.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Phil Cook is here


Phil Cook is one of my favorite musicians. I know his guitar playing as well as any player out there today. His solo debut, Southland Mission was a revelation and one of my favorites of 2015. This is sure to be every bit as good. Here’s some more on the album from Phil.

People Are My Drug is a radical album, in every sense of the word. In 2018 choosing community and positivity and music is radical. Cook’s smile is still as infectious and ernest as it’s ever been. However, he presently appears charged with a newly-minted seriousness that is revealed to listeners in solidarity, that he too is fighting like hell to keep love alive.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Phil Cook is here


Phil Cook – Southland Mission [album review]

by Woody on September 9, 2015


I’ve always thought Phil Cook to be freakishly talented during his time with Megafaun. Seeing him in Hiss Golden Messenger’s touring band this year, as well as an opening set at Schuba’s hammered that belief home. So when he made mention of this debut at Schuba’s, I was all sorts of excited.

And I am happy to say Southland Mission is all that and a bag of chips. Ain’t It Sweet sounds like a vintage Jerry Band tune. It opens with a minute intro before opening with the chorus. I can almost feel Melvin Seals working over the keys as Cook tears up a solo midway through the track. It is vintage American rock & soul revue material and it is fucking stellar. He could have done a variation of Ain’t It Sweet for nine more tracks and I would have called this album amazing.

He follows that up with a celebratory cover of friend and influence Charlie Parr. I don’t know who the woman singing background is, but fuck me she is great. Next up is Great Tide which starts slow before erupting with Cook proclaiming, “its going to be a great tide!!!”

The world is seriously fucked up and we all need to try harder to make it better. But you also need times to celebrate the fact that you are alive and that there are beautiful things out there as well. Southland Mission is an album for those times, it is the album to throw your hands in the air, smile from ear to ear and scream, “Its good to be alive.”

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Phil Cook is here



I came to appreciate Phil Cook’s music during his time with Megafaun. HearYa even had the pleasure of doing a session with the guys back in 2010. Lately Cook has been producing albums and playing on other albums. In fact, the last two night I saw him as part of Hiss Golden Messenger’s band at the Chicago Theatre.

Great Tide is the first track off of Southland Mission. Cook’s debut will be released on 9/11/15 via Thirty Tigers. Here’s some background – While retaining the singular vision of a songwriter, instrumentalist and interpreter asserting his own, Southland Mission is a highly collaborative affair. For the recording of the album, Phil gathered his best friends and players from across the rich North Carolina musical community and beyond to bring his songs to fervorous life. The compositions are Phil’s testament to truth in music, integrity in creativity and reverence for those who paved the way for these sounds to fall on our ears. Southland Mission is certain to compel you to stomp your feet, pump your fist, and sway and spin with reckless abandon.

Follow me on Tuwtter at @WoodyHearYa

Phil Cook is here

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Field Report’s Fergus Falls: Best song of the year so far? [new mp3]

April 23, 2012

We mentioned that Field Report was one of our favorite new discoveries at SXSW this year. Christopher Porterfield ended his previous Milwaukee-based band, Conrad Plymouth, and emerged with a new one called Field Report, seemingly overnight. They recorded an album at Justin Vernon’s studio in December of last year and more recently, they’ve been touring […]

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Megafaun – Self-Titled [Album Review]

September 28, 2011

Megafaun are one of my favorite bands. Their combination of American Beauty-esque Dead elements, hints of Southern twang and a pinch of Laurel Canyon sound makes for a worthy concoction. Add in their willingness and ability to push the envelope with unique elements makes them a truly special band. With HearYa friend BJ Burton at […]

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Megafaun – Heretofore [Album Review]

September 22, 2010

There are a number of things that I love about Megafaun. I love the way they are able to blend simple folk with  ambitious experimental sounds. The way their music comes off as improvised, yet meticulous. The way that they can stretch tunes out over 5 minutes with minimal effort. Their latest mini-album, Heretofore, combines […]

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Megafaun to release mini-album Heretofore. Give away Carolina Days [new mp3]

September 13, 2010

Megafaun will release their mini-album, Heretofore, tomorrow. To wet our appetites, they’ve also released a free mp3 of “Carolina Days.” Megafaun – Carolina Days You can also hear (and see) another new song called “Volunteers” from the album, recorded live in studio for our HearYa Live Session. Megafaun – Volunteers Megafaun – Volunteers (recorded live […]

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Megafaun, Live Session #72

June 4, 2010

As Shirk and I sat around waiting for Megafaun to arrive to the studio, I thought back to a comment made when we booked the session. What exactly did they mean by “trying an acoustic session.” That question was answered when we met the North Carolina based band outside and offered to help carry up […]

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Megafaun – Gather, Form and Fly [Album Review]

August 10, 2009

The other day, I was driving back a meeting and was listening to Megafaun’s phenomenal new LP, Gather, Form and Fly. I was immediately overwhelmed by its stunning beauty and brilliance. I liked their previous release, Bury The Square, but this is in another league. The songs are tighter, better written and the instrumental interludes […]

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