"Good music is good music no matter what you call it and Kort's music certainly qualifies for good...no make that GREAT…"
An incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist, dedicated performer, prolific songwriter, gifted and expressive vocalist, Kort McCumber has wandered beyond good and into the elusive land of great. More than a decade into his musical pilgrimage, he continues to define, and redefine, his sound, his persona, his love for music and his unwavering commitment to bringing good music, "no make that great" music, to listeners throughout the United States, Europe and Australia. And, as with any true pilgrimage, it's not merely about defining and redefining, but more about discovering and rediscovering the person behind the persona.
While he readily admits to loving the 'playing music part of it … anywhere, anytime'', it's the in between times that get tough; the getting there, getting set up, getting packed up and getting up to get going to the next show that makes the road wearisome. That and the fact that he misses his home, wife, dogs "and the sanity they afford me. But when I weigh it all out, I know this is what I want to do. This is what I gotta do."
Along the way, he's discovered a thing or two - about himself, about life on the road, life off the road, along the road, beside the road and beyond the road. That's the essence of Americana. And Kort captures it. Luckily, for us, it's a catch and release program. Self-discovery, after all, means little if there isn't a broader revelation, one that compels the explorer to say what he's heard, to show what he's seen and to share what he's felt. Americana is, or ought to be, a nod to the past, a snapshot of the present and a hopeful yearning for the future, born in an intimate understanding of what life in America is - on, off, along, beside and beyond each and every road.
"I travel these highways/and listen to the wheels roll along …" Kort McCumber in ‘Middle Child’
"I don't know for sure," says Kort, "but I'd guess I'm creeping up on a half a million miles over the last ten years." That's a lot of miles, a lot of smiles, and a fair share of calamities, mishaps and broken-down rigs along the way. Not all the stories are born when the "wheels roll along." Some roll along when the wheels don't. And, it’s that in-between time that gives Kort the chance to continually rediscover everything that is good, bad and real in America. His ability to capture and relate those discoveries is what makes Kort a truly great purveyor of restorative Americana.
"I really felt early on that playing music full time was something I was supposed to do, that it chose me. It's been over ten years now, and I haven't looked back."
After moving to Colorado in 2003, Kort’s music took a decidedly more country/bluegrass turn and dug deeper into the roots of his Scotch-Irish heritage. In 2007, he released his sixth CD, “Lickskillet Road,” featuring appearances from Vince Gill, Sally Van Meter, Don Conoscenti and more. In 2008, he was back in the mixing booth putting the finishing touches on a live DVD, captured at the famed Boulder Theater. Last year, he released two equally defining CD’s, Moors & McCumber, a collaborative effort with Wisconsin songwriter James Moors, and the critically acclaimed Ain’t The Same As Before: Like the title suggests, this latest effort literally “ain’t the same as before”. Less country, more gritty; less acoustic, more electric; less tentative and more confident; this CD puts Kort into a broader category of Americana, with an increased social and musical consciousness.
“While most Americana records released by well known artists this year so far have all been pretty good, I'd have to say that the difference between Kort's new record and all of the other releases thus far in 2009 is sorta like the difference between running into a familiar acquaintance or sharing a beer with an old friend. After almost 2 months of repeated listens to Kort's new album, I continue to find new treasures buried in the songs that somehow comfort me or give words to the frustrations of modern daily life. For these reasons alone, Kort McCumber's fantastic new album gets my vote for best Americana album of 2010.” - B. Dutch Seyfarth, No Depression
Whether it’s been ten years of evolution or ten seconds of revolution – it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Kort continues to search for, find and share new music - music that ventures beyond good and into the realm of great. They say an expert is anyone who comes from more than 50 miles away and carries a brief case. About 300 nights a year, that’s Kort! His brief case is a motor home filled with guitars, banjos, mandolin, bouzouki, harmonicas and a plethora of great original tunes. Night after night, Kort weaves a rich and diverse tapestry of musical experience, skill and energy into each and every show. The live experience is a must for any and every fan of on-the-road Americana.
The recordings speak for themselves. Follow the musical pilgrimage through the years and listen to the evolution and revolution of Kort’s sound. Where does it go from here? Time will tell. But one thing is certain – the attention to detail and commitment to quality that forms the foundation of each and every seemingly new moment will always remain. In fact, that is the map that has led Kort into, and will continue to lead him deeper into, the land of great.
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