Matthew Cook got started in the Dallas Irish music community in 2011 by attending his first O’Flaherty retreat, though his love for traditional songs started much earlier. Having played guitar for a few years before this, he wanted to try something new. So he took bodhrán, realized he knew nothing about it, and that he desperately needed a better one. His love of the drum grew rapidly, and after some hibernation and practice, he finally bought a new one. Of course, this was just a gateway instrument that led to him learning mandolin, bouzouki, and he’s now working on tenor banjo.
After devoting a lot of time and energy to learning and practicing, he started attending the session at The Celt Irish Pub, when it was still Churchill’s. At the same time in 2011, his brother-in-law and two of his good friends started to kick around the idea of a band, and shortly after, Slugger’s Rule was born. Much like the TIMES mission statement, the band’s focus is on spreading traditional songs to as many people as they can. They love the music they play, and want nothing more than to have a wonderful night full of music and merriment. They want to make connections with people, and give them a brief time to set their worries aside, through this music that we all love so much.
In 2016, he started playing with String Theory, and it has been a grand time. They have played festivals and pub gigs together, and have even played with a band that was showcasing different styles of traditional music and needing some Irish influence in there, all the while trying to keep the spirit of Irish Trad music alive through each show.
Matt attended the retreat a couple more times as a student, but has switched over to the volunteer side of things the past few years. Since then, he does what he can to help out TIMES in their mission of keeping this gorgeous Irish music alive. He also now helps lead the Celt Irish Pub Session on Wednesday nights with Daniel Mehalko, plays with the TIMES session players on a regular basis, and helps however he can during the O’Flaherty Benefit in September. He has served on the board since 2018, and has loved trying to help TIMES continue their mission of encouraging the learning and playing of this Traditional music that has found a place in our hearts.