I got a strange call Thursday morning. You know that feeling when you hear something and it doesn’t quite register at first? It was one of those moments.

Jenna Sue Payne had called me Thursday to ask if I wanted to drop by Cook Castle in Fort Payne for an interview with William Shatner.

She said it, and I paused for a brief second. I was waiting for the punchline. But, no, Shatner was actually in Fort Payne and apparently had been for a few days.

The legendary award-winning actor, author and musician had come to Fort Payne to record at Cook Sound Studios. So, of course I told her I would be there. It was an opportunity I figure I’ll probably never get again, and I wouldn’t miss that for the world.

Cook Castle sits on a beautiful piece of property — the location is well known in this area as an event space and home of legendary country music guitarist Jeff Cook. I pulled up to the house with my photographer, Kayla, and it was just a surreal moment walking through the front door. Shatner and Cook, Cook’s wife, Lisa, and other producers, engineers and friends were standing in the kitchen.

William Shatner — the original James T. Kirk — invited me into the kitchen. Shatner and Cook were working on a musical project together. Jeff said it had a “polished country” sound.

I sat and spoke with Jeff, William and Producer Brian Curl for about 30 minutes or so about this album. Shatner was so visibly excited when he started talking about the music, his booming voice echoed through the dining room.

I’m not going to lie, I kept having these moments where I would catch myself staring as Shatner and Cook would start talking to me. I couldn’t believe that they were answering my questions. It still doesn’t feel like it happened. It was such an awesome experience, and it is one of my favorite articles that I’ve written. I’m extremely thankful for Jeff for welcoming me into his home, and for he and William for being such talented musicians. I’m thankful they decided to share this work with the world, and I’m excited to hear it now.

Bradley Roberts is managing editor of the Times-Journal. Email: broberts@times-journal.com.

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