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Mount Sentinel grad Shawn Hook (Hlookoff) does his best to help rescue gutted music program at alma mater

Shawn Hook poses for photos with a few fans following a jam session Friday at Mount Sentinel High School gymnasium. — Bruce Fuhr photo

Shawn Hlookoff, AKA, Shawn Hook, has come a long way since his trombone days in Rick Lingard’s band class at Mount Sentinel or his time on the volleyball or basketball courts inside the school gymnasium playing for one of the Wildcats varsity teams.

Oh, and did we mention that Shawn Hook, let’s go with the stage name, owns a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for balancing on a ball — Hook managed to stand on a exercise ball for 3 hours, 16 minutes for those people needing to pursue a goal in life.

He’s opened for Heart, Beach Boys, REO Speedwagon and Chilliwack. He was part of show celebrating B.C.’s 150th birthday at the Parliament buildings in Victoria, following legendary songstress Sarah Mclachlan, and even appeared on the Fox Network television show, Bones, playing a killer — ironically, Hook knocked off a piano player before being caught by the good guys.

The keyboard and guitar player also has written music for several shows at ABC.

However, with the provincial government locking horns with the B.C. Teachers Federation and implementing severe cuts to the public school system — especially, arts/music programs — Hook was quick to come to the aid of a former teacher.

“I’m so proud of Shawn for all that he’s accomplished and for him to come back and support us at a time when it’s pretty dark for music programs in schools in B.C., it means a lot,” said Hook’s former band instructor Rick Lingard.

“He’s just a tremendous guy.”

Hook, fresh from inking a new deal with EMI Canada, releasing his new video on Much Music along with a new record Cosmonaut and The Girl, was at his alma mater, Mount Sentinel High School in South Slocan, Friday to play in front of the student body and former teachers.

Hook did a little jamming during  a few of Lingard's classes prior to the afternoon show. He also used some Mount Sentinel students as backup.

Following the concert, Hook stayed for the better part of an hour to sign autographs and converse with students.

The Nelson Daily Editor Bruce Fuhr was one of those fans waiting in the lineup for a few minutes with this rising star on the music scene.


The Nelson Daily: You were just in Toronto unveiling you video on Much Music and are off to Los Angeles, why would you make a special trip to your old stomping grounds?

Shawn Hook: I heard about what’s going on with the B.C. Schools right now . . . all the cutbacks (provincial government) is making to all the arts programs and for me the arts programs played a big part in my life.

Obviously, I’ve been able to move on to make it a career, but beyond that (music) was more and outlet and release and really helped me get through high school.

Mr. (Rick) Lingard called me. I was in Toronto debuting my music video on Much Music and he asked if there was any way I could come to Mount Sentinel.

I said the only day I have was Friday, but I’ll come . . .. I’ll definitely come to support the school so he set it up.

TND: What was it like to play again at your old alma mater?

SH: It was awesome. I was playing but I was also looking around, trying to soak in as much as I could. It was fun to see my mom sitting there in the crowd . . . my high school teachers that I really looked up to growing up. Jamming with them, playing with them and seeing the students enjoy the performance was like a century overload. It was really touching.

TND: How did you get to this point in your career?

SH: I went to Selkirk College in Castlegar for two years to pursue more of an academic career — university transfer in engineering. I put in my two years but at the same time I was playing music literally every day and was putting in more time at the Nelson campus where the music was. I was in a Nelson band called Shag . . ..  I thought this was too much. I love music and I want to pursue it so I decided to leave Selkirk in Castlegar and move to Vancouver where I made an independent record.

I put some music out myself online. Someone in Los Angeles heard about it. I went down to L.A. where I signed a writing deal with ABC. I wrote a bunch of songs for TV shows but this wasn’t the direction I wanted to go.

I came back to Canada where I opened for Jan Arden.

There was a person in the crowd from EMI (Music) Canada.

I opened for Jan Arden in Penticton. I received a standing ovation. My family was there, my grandfather, who was a big inspiration, was there and after the show I went to a hockey dressing room and a rep from EMI was there who said, “Shawn you have a real good project and a real good thing going and we’d like to potentially work with you.”

Eventually I signed with them. I’ve since moved back to LA and have recorded a record (Cosmonaut and The Girl), which came out on May 9, and going around promoting the record.

TND: What kind of music do you play?

SH: I started as a soloist because I couldn’t afford musicians. But my vision was always to have a band. Now I have a band . . . we made a record that’s got rock elements and pop elements. With the band I run around move away from the keyboard and guitar.

But this was really cool to play with the students that was fun.

TND: Where do you go from here?

SH: The record is out so it’s up to the world to embrace it . . .. I hope fans embrace it.

TND:  Any tours planned?

SH: Working on a tour right now. I’m off to Kelowna for a concert on the (June) 23rd for one of the local radio stations. I’m also doing some work at a yoga event in Kelowna.

But I’m working on a national tour right now, that hasn’t been confirmed so I can’t give out any of the dates.

TND: Is Los Angeles you new home?

SH: Home is an interesting word, because here is always going to be home. The Kootenays is always going to be home.  

Vancouver I have an apartment where I can get a lot of work done when I’m writing because no one bugs me. LA is another part of my life where I want to be because there a lot of writing and a lot of recording . . . that’s the hub for music and there’s a lot of energy there and a lot of acting stuff I want to continue to pursue.

So LA is where I’m going to be for my career, but Canada and this area will always be my home . . . or my suitcase.

TND: It’s Grad at a lot of schools. How do you tell a high school graduate nowadays to follow their dreams instead of falling into the “politically correct” university/college route to a successful career?

SH: I think I always had this vision. It’s weird. I always had a goal of what I always wanted. I just didn’t know how I was going to get it or the road I was going to take.

I took the “politically correct” route for a while and it came to a point where I had this feeling in my gut I was doing something wrong that wasn’t for me. It was risky at the time and a lot of people doubted what I was doing and really didn’t care what I was doing but if you somebody that has an idea and a vision and you can see the end really strong I think that helps you get around the stuff your supposed to do.

If your not clear in what you want to be I think you get lost in what your doing.

TND: There are a lot of “One-hit wonders” out there. Any concerns?

SH: The music industry, even as successful as I am, can eat you up. I’m 10 years into the business and still classified as a new artist. I think you really have to be dedicated and know where you’ll be . . .. That’s what I do and it definitely helps me get through it.

It’s been 10 years and I feel like I have a real solid foundation. And it seems now the fans I’m engaging and meeting, they seem to be very loyal . . .. Even the ones I had 10 years ago, they seem to be still with me so I don't feel I’m a You Tube sensation.

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