Cary Morin’s sixth release, When I Rise, follows close on the heels of an international tour that spanned the U.S. and reached as far as Italy, France, and Germany. Born as a Crow tribal member and son of an air force officer in Billings, Montana, he spent the bulk of his youth in Great Falls, where he “cut his teeth” picking guitar standards at neighborhood get-togethers, before relocating to Northern Colorado in the ’80s. Cary’s musical career hit the ground running with The Atoll, a band he founded in 1989, and that toured nationally, gaining a devoted following. Cary plays with Los Lobos at Washington’s Fri, Feb 1, 2019, at 6:30 PM.
Cary is a staple in the Fort Collins music scene, yet he grows as a musician continuously and opens the door for change as a musician. Cary pulls out old songs sometimes to prepare for shows and says,
“I realized that I’m a way different musician and a way different guitar players. I was hearing her songs that I played hundreds of times very differently after a while of not playing them. When I got to town, and I was playing acoustic shows in restaurants and bars in the 80s, and I was kind of noticing that the tail end of what was going on in this town up to that point, my perspective was all of these established bands that were either in Fort Collins or traveling through all the time that was well. They were a huge influence on me. When I started playing with the band that I played with for four years with Atoll, I think I was still associated as ‘the guitarist-singer dude’ in that band. And I was proud of what we accomplished. We played a lot. We played somewhere nearly every day, and we did that for years. And it wasn’t until after you know long after that when I wasn’t playing with them as much but started doing other shows just using my name and people didn’t know ‘Carrie Morin, you know, who’s that?’ But now, it would be rare for someone in Fort Collins to utter those words.”
LISTEN WHILE YOU READ
When I Rise is the title track from Cary Morin’s 2018 release. It was filmed in and around Fort Collins, CO by Blake Miller, Randy Pfizenmaier, & Robby Aukerma
Cary started playing the bars he wasn’t even old enough to get in, and now he plays to a packed house every night. For Cary, this shows the breadth of his career. Beyond Colorado shows. Morin is playing Sing for Seva, a celebration of 40 Years of Music for Social Change, Saturday, January 12th at the Fox Theater in Oakland. Which might be the biggest bill he has sat on sharing the stage with Mickey Hart & Friends, Joan Osborne, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, to name a few. He has shared the stage on numerous occasions with some of the best musicians. Some are well-known, others are known well to him, but his versatile guitar style opens many doors to sit in with the best.
Over the years, he has changed from playing primarily electric guitar to an acoustic guitar player, and his style has changed. Morin’s indigenous roots are prominent in his lyrics and his storytelling. The delta blues ring through the tightly wound strings of his guitar. There has been an evolution of what he is interested in guitar-wise and genre-wise. Perhaps that’s something that happens with age, or maybe it is a sense of finding your path as a musician.
Cary says, “as I age, I care less really about what other people are thinking, and I’m like, I’ve just really cared about this, and I’m going to put it out there, and when I was younger, I’d be like, oh, I can’t put that out there. That’s so vulnerable.” he adds, “I don’t feel like I’m ever topped out. There are so many great guitar players out there that I have met, and especially around just in Fort Collins, that do wonderful things, and I think they continue to expand their knowledge as well. But we all kind of go in different directions. Some guys are really into like jazz and fusion music, and some guys are like way into country music, and things that go sort of in that direction, and I think I tend to stay on the acoustic side of things and any more.”
Cary travels the majority of the year with his wife playing music. With each destination, Cary is acquiring new influence. The remarkable way he adds a new style or a new sound into his repertoire is his unique gift. He never loses sight of home. His home and his native people, his Colorado home, or his home across the globe. He blends sounds and collaborates with ease and can merge across genres playing the roots and the heart of the music progressions. The essence of everywhere rings out in his songs, particularly in his latest release.
Morin’s evolution shaped the sounds of the album as he says, “We had a producer on the last album When I Rise. I haven’t worked that much with producers over the years, and this is certainly the first time that we’ve had a hand-picked person to come in to help shape the album. They’re asking you to do things that maybe you wouldn’t have thought of on your own. It’s a wonderful thing to sit there and have to play, and they give you ideas and truly sculpt the song together” he adds, “The songs are about 80% brand-new, and then some of them are revisited versions of these songs that didn’t make it onto other albums for one reason or another.”
Morin talked about when he met his producer, “I met the producer Kim Stone over 25 years ago when he used to come to see me play solo. He is from the band Spirogyra and went on to play with some of the biggest jazz ensembles in the world. When he agreed to help us out, I was excited about that. But what he brought to the table was more than what I could have predicted. He came up with ideas for my songs and came up with ideas for people who could perform with us on these. The finished product, to me, is just astounding. I could never in a million years have come up with any of these ideas.” Six acoustic songs were recorded here in Fort Collins at Studio Underground. The other parts were tracked and recorded in Boulder, all under the direction of this profound producer.
For the Colorado recording sessions, Cary Morin (guitars, pedal steel guitar, vocals) surrounded himself with a sympathetic cast of all-star musicians that uniquely complemented what he created: Steve Amedée – drums, percussion; Paul Benjaman – electric guitar; Celeste Di Iorio – vocals; Jay Forrest – drums, percussion; Jason Larson – vocals, piano, bass guitar) Dexter Payne – clarinet and harmonica; Kim Stone – acoustic and electric bass); Andy Weyl – piano; Lionel Young – violin. When I Rise was produced by Kim Stone, Celeste Di Iorio, and Jason Larson.
What is next for Cory? “We’re just fresh back from Europe. We’ve got some shows around the U.S. I’m taking this time to work on a recording project that we start in the spring that will record out in Lafayette, Louisiana. So I’m taking some time now to get ready for that. We have this recording project that we’re doing in Germany that we started last month and big plans for a special project with David Bromberg.”
Cory’s advice to any musician who wants to grow is, “You have to do it on your own. You have to be a business person. So you’ve got to wear your artist hat and your business hat, and you have to treat it like a business and apply those basic principles of business to what you’re doing. Have goal-setting meetings where you figure out what you want to do. Set goals and check in every week on the progress. Eventually, you will see the goals of getting checked off. Success has many different degrees. Set your own way.”
Cary has won numerous awards for his work, particularly for his 2017 release, Cradle to the Grave. Cary is the recipient of the 2018 Independent Music Awards for Best Blues CD (Cradle to the Grave), a 2018 International Songwriting Competition Honorable Mention for Cradle to the Grave, a 2018 Native Arts and Cultures Fellowship, a 2017 First Peoples Fund Artist in Business Leadership Fellowship, the 2017 Indigenous Music Awards for Best Blues CD (Cradle to the Grave), 2015 Indigenous Music Awards Nominee for Best Folk Album (Tiny Town), 2014 Indigenous Music Awards Nominee for Aboriginal Entertainer of the Year, 2013 & 2014 Colorado Blues Challenge Solo Championship, and a 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fort Collins Music Association (FoCoMA) and won the Colorado Fan Favorite Poll in the blues category for his second solo release, Streamline.
SEE HIM. BUY IT.
Cary has several shows up and down the front range in January and February.
Leon Gallery, 1112 E. 17th Ave., Denver, 7:30 PM
Washington’s, 132 LaPorte Ave., Fort Collins, 6:30 PM
Cynthia Reaves is the Managing Editor of The New Scene Magazine and North Forty News. Cynthia is multimedia journalist with a master's in New Media Journalism and a bachelor's in Journalism with a minor in Music Theory and Composition. She has a grassroots digital publication, Argento Studios. She was the social producer for Green Mile Films, PR for Women’s Grand Prix at the US Pro Challenge, and Chief Relationship Officer for technology company Studio Hyperset.