CARY MORIN: ACOUSTIC NATIVE AMERICANA WITH GRIT AND REFINEMENT

By:Ali Owens

Photo By: Ryan Frazee

How does one best describe the musical stylings of Cary Morin? Many ideas have been offered. Soul. Blues. Acoustic Native Americana rooted in jazz – or bluegrass, or is that reggae…?

Most will agree that it’s a beautiful contradiction; a harmonious blend of all of the above, and so much more.

Cary has been described as “one of the best acoustic pickers on the scene today,” – and it’s easy to see why. His hands glide deftly, effortlessly, up and down the neck of the guitar, in a way that seems almost ethereal – as though he’s simply channeling sounds that are begging to be heard. Like anyone who is a master at their craft, he makes it look easy.

Don’t be fooled, however – Cary has been tirelessly honing his musical skills since learning to play the piano at the ripe old age of five. Violin came shortly after, followed by a guitar that his older brother left behind while at college, which Cary co-opted – and it’s a damn good thing.

Cary relocated to Northern Colorado in the 1980s and, through years of music, firmly embedded himself in Fort Collins culture. In the early ‘90s, Cary formed The Atoll and spent over two decades touring across the country with the band. In 2009, as part of the Pura Fé Trio, he earned international accolades with his hit single, “Ole Midlife Crisis.” Since then he has traveled all over the United States, as well as to foreign destinations including France, Denmark, Spain, Scotland, and Japan, and many others, sharing his music with the world.

“I love bringing art to new areas and new folks,” he says. “We’ve built quite a family of friends, fans, and other touring artists all over the world. It’s really fulfilling to make folks happy with music.”

Cary refers to his songwriting as “storytelling” – a very fitting description indeed. There’s an honesty to his words and his sound alike – an authenticity born of the desire for true human-to-human connection.

His vocals are equal parts gritty and honey-smooth – a starkly honest world-weariness contrasted with a persistent determination of spirit.  Each song seems to have been carefully crafted with a precise balance of raw edges and practiced perfection; jaded acquiescence and soaring optimism. The end result is an intoxicating musical portrait of the experience of life: the ups, the downs, and everything in between.

A master of empty spaces, Cary knows exactly when to dazzle audiences with his lightning-fast fingerpicking, and when to hold back. So much is conveyed in the silence between his notes, breathing such vivid life into his songs that the listener can almost picture the dance from one note to the next – a visual ballet of sound.

Cary has received numerous accolades in recent years. He won the Colorado Blues Challenge Solo Championship two years running, and in 2013 he was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Fort Collins Music Association (FoCoMA). Additionally, he has achieved true Local Hero status by being portrayed in the city’s iconic Jazz Alley mural downtown – a “dream team” of musicians of regional and international fame. The mural was commissioned by Pat Stryker and the Bohemian Foundation and painted by Terry McNerney, and was completed in 2011.

As if all that weren’t impressive enough, his latest release, Cradle to the Grave, has been nominated by the Native American Music Association for the Best Blues Album of 2017.

Of Cradle to the Grave, Cary says, “It’s simpler and more laid back than my last few albums. I really enjoyed the process of writing the songs. I’d have an idea on the road, and I’d ask my wife to write them down while I was driving. I’d then work them out further as we traveled. Most of these songs were written from the road, inspired by various places and experiences.”

It should come as no surprise, then, that “Cradle to the Grave” is nothing short of a journey – a musical expedition that welcomes the listener along for the ride.

Cary will be performing at Equinox Brewing on June 2nd at 7:00 pm,

and his albums are available for purchase online at, carymorin.com.