Kort McCumber's Journal

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Posted By on March 17, 2012

It’s St. Patrick’s Day! I’m not going to get all plastic shamrocks and green beer on you now. Instead, I want to celebrate the noble Irish tradition of insults. The Irish are notorious for their sharp tongues and have an arsenal of insults that soar far above the norm. Recently I was told by my good friend and musical partner James Moors that I live “the life of Riley”. So, I told him to shut up. At the time, I was unfamiliar with the old standbys: ” You’re as thick as manure but only half as useful” and the really scathing “May your pipe never smoke. May your teapot be broke”. Ouch. But then realizing that I don’t even know what the term “life of Riley” really means or if I should be offended, I decided to do a little research; to be ready with a better comeback next time. I discovered that there are a lot of theories regarding the origin of the saying “life of Riley” but no agreement… only that it suggests a life of prosperity and happiness, possibly living off the fat of the land. But who was this Mr. Riley? And why do they speak of him so highly? The name originally appeared in Gaelic as O’Raghailligh. The lack of any conclusive records points to the name being chosen as that of a generic Irishman, much as Paddy is used now. Well, it turns out the Rileys consolidated their clan in County Cavan. And, as befits such clannish behavior, they minted their own money. This money was widely recognized for its value. Even in England it was accepted as legal tender. The coins became known as “O’Reilly’s, or Reilly’s”, and as such, became synonymous with a rich person. A gentleman freely spending his cash was said to be “Living on his Reillys” or “Living the life of Reilly”.
Maybe I should consider minting my own money to live a leisured lifestyle. Instead, I am a touring musician. My life on the road is not always easy or even comfortable. I once heard another touring musician say “it’s a great way to live, but a tough way to make a living.” I agree. Like any labor of love, it takes its toll.


James and I are leading another trip to Ireland from August 27th thru September 5th this year. We are taking 20 folks with us to tour Counties Cork, Kerry and Clare. We will be drinking Guinness, visiting beautiful sites and listening to great Irish music, all the while “Living the Life of Riley” Please join us. You can find more info here: http://www.moorsandmccumber.com/?page_id=83
Slainte! (cheers)

Leaving for Cobh is one of 11 songs from the new CD, Gravity. Cobh is a southern port town in Ireland that is quite famous for being the transatlantic departure port for 2.5 million of the 6 million Irish people who emigrated to North America between 1848 and 1950 during what to us in the USA is known as the Irish Potato Famine and is more often referred to by those we met in Ireland as “the Hunger”.  We were greatly taken by the stories we heard last fall in Ireland about this period and wrote this song during the tour. ‘Leaving For Cobh’ is dedicated to the memory of Tom Pigott (who started Enchanted Way Tours with John Smith). Through his larger-than-life passion for the land, the people, the history, and the music of Ireland, we have been re-introduced to our Irish roots and we will never forget. Thank you. Slan Abhaile (is an Irish phrase used to bid goodbye to someone who is travelling home)
In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day, our Irish brothers and sisters and all of you we say thanks!

Here is a live video of Leaving For Cobh: http://youtu.be/2-qZFfTEzmw

Not so deep thoughts with Kort McCumber

Posted By on February 21, 2012

Kort Khronicles 2/21/12

Yep, that is me on the left with the Converse Chuck Taylors and the hole in my jeans. This pic was taken somewhere near Patagonia, Arizona, and at this point, I had no idea what I was doing under the RV. But, even if you don’t know what you are looking at, sometimes you should still take a look. My minor complication had a minor complication. Luckily for all involved, we still made it back home to Colorado. My recent tour to Arizona and New Mexico had a lot of mishaps and unforeseen difficulties, but at the same time, the 3,000 mile tour had a lot of rewarding experiences. Earlier in the day, before the RV incident, I played a great gig at the Arizona Senior Academy. Now, I’ve played a lot of gigs in my career that start at 11:30, just not too many that start at 11:30 in the morning. Anyways, there was a Q & A half-way through my set, and one person noticed that through the course of the show, I had played bouzouki, banjo, guitar, fiddle, mandolin and harmonica and asked “how do you remember all the different tunings for all the instruments you play?” I wasn’t really sure how to answer the question, because when I think about it, that is when I start to screw up. But as I started to explain each instruments unique tuning and how they relate to each other, I accidentally stumbled upon my answer! As I was describing the traditional Irish bouzouki tuning of ADAD, I had inadvertently said ADHD, which while it is not a traditional “tuning”, but rather a “disorder”, it is my own special “tuning” which makes it possible to keep all the “tunings” straight in my head. I’m glad I can share my “condition” in a positive way. Doctors might call it ADHD and advise me to fill my prescription at the local pharmacy. But my wife calls it “multiple-genre-split-instrumentality-disorder” or otherwise known as MGSID. I prefer to self medicate by playing a lot of instruments and writing and recording songs.


…And lately I’ve experienced some positive results.


My good friend and co-writing compadre James Moors and I have just recently finished recording our new album titled “Gravity”. We are launching a kickstarter campaign to help fund this new recording. The official release of the new Moors & McCumber CD is May 1st 2012. We would love your support in helping us get this new CD out into the world. One recent review has this to say about the collection of songs: “The songs that make up the new CD deal with some heavy subjects, hence the title, Gravity, but they are not heavy-hearted. Even though there is no shortage of  ‘sad’ songs, these ‘sad’ songs offer a mature, seasoned take on the theme and will probably be some of the most uplifting ‘sad’ songs you’ll ever hear.” Please check out our Kickstarter page to learn more.



Kort Khronicles 1/12/12

Posted By on January 12, 2012

Another year has come and gone…

Happy New Year! I know that a lot of musicians try to get the newsletter out on the first of the month, but it has been unseasonably sunny and beautiful the last few weeks, and I’ve been spending time outside with my wife hiking our four-legged kids. But, right now it is snowing outside, I’ve got a hot cup of coffee and I feel it is time to ruminate on the past 12 months. My booking agent/part-time fiddle player/sister has done a great job these last few years keeping you all up-to-date on my wanderings, but I am now taking over, for I will soon have another niece or nephew! There could be some months where I talk about the weather in the mountains, stacking and chopping wood, the funny things our pets do, gigs, instruments, songs, or what new beer(s) I have found. I can’t promise these ramblings will be consistent, make any sense at all, or even be worth your time to read, but they will be spontaneous and sometimes superfluous. I hope you come along for the ride. (more…)

Real People, Real Instruments, Real Music

Posted By on February 28, 2011

This is a review of my latest CD, translated into English. The Dutch version is at the end.

Real Roots Cafe Netherlands
Kort McCumber, Ain’t The Same As Before (Lucky Nugget Records)
From little Vermont in the northeast of the US we have received the latest CD by Kort McCumber. According to his website it’s his 3rd CD and, considering what… “ain’t the same as before” has to offer, I am looking forward to those other CDs (and the live-DVD). This already shows my appreciation: I am rather impressed by this wonderful CD.

A happy mash of folk, country (fiddle), rock, blues and roots music with, on some tracks, a wonderfully exciting rhythm (especially in the only cover, Ola Belle Reed’s “I’ve endured”, the sad “Chenille” and the cheery “Pay the fiddler”). Kort himself plays no less than 12 instruments on this CD: several guitars but also cello, piano, harmonica, mandoline, dobro and “Irish” bouzouki. He is assisted on bass (Jim Gilmour, who can also be heard on background vocals on several tracks), drums, Hammond B3 as well as on electric guitar (Jeff Poremski on five tracks) and fiddle/violin/viol (Beth Wilberger, who also contributes with surprisingly pretty background vocals on six tracks). But it’s especially the original tracks, ten in total, 8 of which in collaboration with others, that give this CD its added value. Delightful melodies, beautiful choruses, great lyrics. Especially “Pay the fiddler”, “Ain’t the same as before”, “Highway 50″, “I’m sorry”, “I’ve endured” and “Welcome to Duluth” have stolen my musical heart. Let me quote the immortal first lines of this last song: “I carry a two dollar bill in my pocket to remind me of the love that you’ve shown from the start. And the letters you write, they’ve been helping me keep my mind off my mind and open my heart”, and further on: “Now that two dollar bill sits on the dresser in the house that we share at the end of the road. And that two dollar bill will always remind me that no matter the distance between us, you’re my home”. Ain’t pure love beautiful.
This Kort McCumber is a genuine discovery, a more than excellent singer-songwriter who has produced one of the better CDs of 2010 in the field of Americana.
(Fred Schmale)

Original Dutch version:
Uit het kleine Vermont in het noordoosten van de USA komt de nieuwste CD van Kort McCumber tot ons. Volgens ’s mans website is het zijn derde CD en gezien het gebodene op deze ‘Ain’t the same as before’ ben ik inmiddels razend benieuwd naar de andere cd’s 9en de live DVD die ook bestaat). Dat geeft al een waarde-oordeel weer: ik ben behoorlijk onder de indruk van deze prachtige CD.
Een vrolijke mengelmoes van folk, country (fiddle), rock, blues en roots muziek met in enkele nummers een heerlijk opzwepend ritme (met name in de enige cover, Ola Belle Reed’s ‘I’ve endured’, het triestige ‘Chenille’ en het pittige ‘Pay the fiddler’). Kort zelf bespeelt op de CD maar liefst twaalf instrumenten, de nodige gitaren, maar ook cello, piano, harmonica, mandoline, dobro en ‘Irish’ bouzouki. Er is hulp op bas (Jim Gilmour, ook in een aantal nummers te horen als achtergrondvocalist), drums, Hammond B3, ook op elektrische gitaar (Jeff Poremski in vijf nummers) en fiddle/viool/viola (Beth Wilberger, zorgt op zes nummers voor verrassend mooie achtergrondzang). Maar het zijn met name de originele liedjes, tien in totaal waarvan acht in samenwerking met anderen, die deze CD zijn meerwaarde verlenen. Schitterende melodietjes, prachtige refreinen, prima teksten. Met name ‘Pay the fiddler’, ‘Ain’t the same as before’, ‘Highway 50’, ‘I’m sorry’, ‘I’ve endured’ en ‘Welcome to Duluth’ hebben mijn muziekhart gestolen. Ik citeer de onsterfelijke beginstrofe van deze laatste song: ‘I carry a two dollar bill in my pocket to remind me of the love that you’ve shown from the start. And the letters you write, they’ve been helping me keep my mind off my mind and open my heart’ en even verder: ‘Now that two dollar bill sits on the dresser in the house that we share at the end of the road. And that two dollar bill will always remind me that no matter the distance between us, you’re my home’ . Prachtig toch, hele echte liefde.

Deze Kort McCumber is een heuse ontdekking, een meer dan voortreffelijke singer-songwriter die met één van de betere CD’s van 2010 op de proppen komt in het rijke Americanaveld. (Fred Schmale)

Fourmile Fire concert tickets sell out in 2 minutes

Posted By on January 27, 2011

News of the Fourmile Fire spread from coast to coast and, apparently, so did word of a benefit concert for those affected by the state’s most destructive blaze in history.

The “Fourmile Canyon Revival” concert sold out in a blinding two minutes Tuesday morning.

The ticket sales raised more than $300,000 for a relief fund for the victims of the Sept. 6 Fourmile Fire, which burned down 169 homes west of Boulder.

Hopeful concert-goers at 10 a.m. Tuesday raced to be first at KBCO.com or Tickethorse.com to snag $60 tickets for the concert. Bands with Colorado roots are scheduled to play including The String Cheese Incident, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and Yonder Mountain String Band.

Leftover Salmon and members of Phish also will play at the concert, which is sponsored by KBCO and will take place Oct. 9 at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield.

“I’m thrilled and a little surprised,” said Josie Heath, president of the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County, the fundraising organization putting on the concert.

Not only did tickets sell out fast, but organizers said the buyers were from across the country. Heath said some people expressed frustration that the tickets went so quickly.

“I wish we could have had it in Coors Field,” Heath said.

The capacity for the 1stBank Center is 6,500 people, and Tuesday’s ticket sales raised more than $300,000 for the Boulder Mountain Fire Relief Fund, administered by the Community Foundation. That brings the total amount pledged to the fund to more than $400,000 so far.

Heath said the foundation and an advisory committee — which includes mountain residents and members of the fire districts — will determine guidelines for distributing the money. People will have to apply for grants, Heath said.

“No grants have been given yet, but we hope they will go out soon,” she said.

Event organizers saved a small number of tickets for volunteer firefighters, said Chris Barge, director of philanthropic services for the Community Foundation. Those tickets will be distributed by fire departments in the burn area, and firefighters should contact their chiefs about getting one, Barge said.

Although one of the largest, the Fourmile Canyon Revival concert is among numerous fundraising events to support the families who lost their homes in the blaze.

Longmont’s Left Hand Brewing Co. is hosting a “Fire Fundraiser” from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Kort McCumber, a fire evacuee who lives in the Gold Hill area with his wife, three dogs and two cats, is a musician who will play at tonight’s event. McCumber said he’s honored to be able to do something to help his neighbors, his friends.

“My first response was that I wished I was a volunteer firefighter so I could go back up and help,” he said, adding that his wife suggested he use his musical talent to help instead. “I’m happy to lend my skill and talent to raising money for all those affected.”

The Fourmile Fire burned 6,181 acres, evacuated 3,500 people and cost $9.4 million to fight.

The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office handed its investigation into how the fire started over to the District Attorney’s Office this week. DA Stan Garnett said his office could decide in a few days whether to file charges against the homeowner of the property where the fire is believed to have started.

Read more: Fourmile Fire concert tickets sell out in 2 minutes – Boulder Daily Camera http://www.dailycamera.com/fourmile-canyon-fire/ci_16139221#ixzz1CGf1yo00

McCumber, Moors make most of musical matchup

Posted By on January 26, 2011

Standard-Examiner Ogden, Utah
By Linda East Brady
Standard-Examiner staff

Kort McCumber, a multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter from Gold Hill, Colo., has spent a lot of time working the stages of Utah. He has built a following one show at a time, playing Sundance Film Festival-related showcases since 2006, as well as other festivals and gas-stop gigs.

“Utah has been great to me — I’ve played from Logan to Cedar City and many places in between,” said McCumber, calling from home. “You know, the other side of the Rockies is real nice!”

McCumber wears nearly as many hats as a performer as he plays instruments. Staying on the road a good 265 nights a year, he does a ton of acoustic solo dates. He also works in gigs with his band The High Road (slated to appear at the OFOAM Ogden Music Festival in June).

But he may have found his most rewarding collaboration yet with James Moors, a Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter McCumber met in 2005 at the Rocky Mountain Folk Festival in Lyons, Colo. The two play at Borrowed Earth Emporium on Tuesday.

In 2009, the two teamed up for an album under their duo name, “Moors & McCumber.”

“There were a lot of parallels between us,” said McCumber of Moors. “We both started about the same year, got serious about it the same time, and have been doing it full time, trying to make a living at it, for about the same amount of time as well. So when all those things come together, you just have to go, ‘Well, this was supposed to happen.’ ”

Well-matched duo

Besides being at similar points in their respective careers, Moors & McCumber have several other complementary factors that makes the duo gel, said McCumber.

“He is on the road as much as I am, and that gives us respect for each other — he knows what it is like to put the miles on, to be away from home and family. We have that in common — this is a guy who hits the road as much as I do. … And we both respect each other as musicians and songwriters. As a result, any input we might have on each other’s songs, we listen to what each other has to say.”

McCumber notes that their strong suits play off each other as well.

“Some stuff I lack, he is good at. He is just a phenomenal lyricist, for example. I mean, I am pretty good at that, too, but my background is really strong in melody and instruments and arrangements. I grew up playing piano and cello — classical music. So I have this really good grasp of theory and arrangement, and he is coming from a killer lyrics school.

“Not that he can’t do a great melody, but I can come in on a song he has half-finished and say, ‘Let’s rewrite here a little bit, or let’s write a bridge here,’ and it just works so well.”

McCumber said that another thing he loves about touring with Moors is the fact they get along so well offstage.

“We do have that chemistry,” McCumber said. “He has kind of mainly done some stuff solo, because he never felt he had anyone he wanted to tour with. I have played with a ton of people, and you know, the gig is usually the easiest part.

“When you are actually making music, you can overlook things that bug you about each other, but it’s the other 22 hours offstage that matters.

“Hanging with them is different, when you are driving for hours and sleeping in the RV. I love his wife and his two little daughters, and he is the same with my wife. We want the best for ourselves and the families and are working toward that goal. We’re two brothers hitting the road, and we respect each other so much.”

Strings attached

In addition to his solo, duo and band work, McCumber has also produced a number of other musicians in studio. And should a musician need just about anything with strings played on a record, he can count on McCumber.

Banjo, guitar, mandola, bass, dobro and Weissenborn (a type of Hawaiian lap slide guitar) are but a few of his musical toys.

“The next thing I might get is an electric lap steel,” he said. “The only thing I do not try to play with strings is the violin. Because my sister Beth is so great at it, I just never have to. I call her if I need that.”

Beth McCumber will be joining McCumber’s High Road outfit at this year’s Ogden Music Festival at Fort Buenaventura. It will be the first time the McCumber sibs will play the fest, but he’s already familiar with the lovely state park where Ogden’s two rivers meet.

“The last time we played Borrowed Earth Emporium, we ended up camping out there, last June. It was wonderful! I’ve gotten to know a lot of people who run that festival and think they are great — as is that location.”


Longmont Times-Call

Posted By on December 13, 2010

Americana at the Opera House
Two local acts to share stage

By Quentin Young
© 2010 Longmont Times-Call

LONGMONT — Local musicians Kort McCumber and Travis Bush had an it’s-a-small-world moment when they realized they both knew a Vermont-based recording engineer named Jim Gilmour.

From that seed of a connection blossomed a friendship and musical affinity.

McCumber, who lives in Gold Hill, is an Americana singer-songwriter. Bush plays guitar, sings and writes songs for the Americana rock band THUNK.

The two acts will share the stage Saturday evening when they perform at Dickens Opera House. “We just click, so it’s great,” Bush said. “We really enjoy playing with Kort.”

McCumber, the show’s headliner, released “Ain’t The Same As Before” this year, which follows his previous album, “Lickskillet Road.”

If you’re unclear about exactly what the term “Americana” means, just listen to McCumber. If Americana were a school, McCumber would be the dean. He embodies the genre’s ethos of honoring America’s blue-collar musical heritage by not straying too far from its time-tested song forms, instrumentation and lyric-writing styles. He is not out to test boundaries, but the property he occupies is one that most listeners would not mind visiting.

Part of the appeal is McCumber’s voice, which, with its morning-in-the-mountains texture and unerring delivery, is impossible not to enjoy.

Songs by Kort McCumber
McCumber and his wife, Amy Fortunato, live in Gold Hill (on Lickskillet Road — where else?), and they evacuated during the Fourmile Canyon Fire this summer.

Their home survived. But neighbors weren’t so lucky, and McCumber has since done much to help his community recover. In September, he performed a benefit concert at Left Hand Brewing Co., a show that also featured Bush.

He and fellow songwriter James Moors have written and recorded a song about the fire. It’s called “You Can’t Take Away the Land,” and sales of the single benefit fire victims. It’s available at www.moorsand

THUNK has an Americana sensibility with a rock edge. The band has the versatility to open up instrumental jams when it wants and to deliver tasteful vocal harmonies.

THUNK performed at the Kinetic Sculpture Challenge at Union Reservoir in August. Bush and bandmate Max Mackey played downtown’s ArtWalk in September.

Tracks from an unreleased album are available for listening online at www.thunkmusic.com.

Bush said there’s every chance that THUNK and McCumber will join on the Dickens stage for a number.

“Our music is similar enough that he can sit in with us on anything,” he said.

Quentin Young can be reached at 303-684-5319 or qyoung@times-call.com.

Check us out on Longmont Channel!

Posted By on September 29, 2010

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Moors & McCumber-Ireland 2011

Posted By on September 1, 2010

Exciting news from Moors & McCumber! We are partnering with Enchanted Way Tours to host a Music and Golf adventure in Ireland, May 24th – June 2nd 2011. This trip is limited to 24 guests and includes a 9 day tour of the west of Ireland. By day James and I and our fellow travellers will visit ancient ruins, castles, small fishing villages, the Aran Islands, and more. By night we will share music in the local pubs with Irish players. A very unique trip indeed!

The tour will start on May 24th, and ends June 2nd. Our tour guide will be Tom Pigott, a true Irishman and the owner operator of Enchanted Way Tours. Tom lives in County Clare, Ireland, and first entered the tourist business in 1973. He has a profound love for Ireland and a pride in being Irish, and enjoys sharing both with people. He has an in-depth knowledge of both the music and history of Ireland.

For guests interested in playing a bit o’ golf on the Emerald Isle, my brother Josh McCumber (professional golfer, former All-American NCAA golfer from the University of Florida) will be joining us to coordinate some fabulous outings. You’ll have the chance to experience some of Ireland’s most famous courses, soaking in the scenery while improving your game, as Josh will be available for lessons. Possible golf courses include: Old Head Kinsale, Bantry Bay, Ballybunion, Tralee, Doakes, Killarney, Doonbeg, Lahinch.

Cost for the tour is $2400 per person based on double occupancy. We will do our best to match up room mates if preferred. Single rooms are an additional $350 total per person for all 9 nights. The following is covered: all ground transportation, 9 nights accommodation in 3+ STAR hotels,  9 full Irish breakfasts,  9 nights of music in the best local pubs (optional of course), including 2 to 3 private concerts with performances by some of Ireland’s best musicians and singers, and entrance fees to all planned attractions. For more info and tour details, please visit the Cork, Kerry and Clare Tour at:


Guests pay for their own flights to and from Shannon International Airport, lunches, 6 dinners on your own, ferries and optional activites, drinks, tips, and personal expenses.

A $500 deposit is required to hold your spot after confirmation of your reservation. Balance is due in two payments, 6 months and 3 months prior to the tour dates.

For further information and reservations contact James Moors directly : James@jamesmoors.com or  218-393-2317

We look forward to a great trip to Ireland! Slainte Mhath (a typical Irish toast, which translates “Good Health”),

James Moors, Kort McCumber & Josh McCumber

Ain’t The Same As Before

Posted By on March 12, 2009

I’ve got a busy week of shows ahead in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. I will literally be road testing the new songs from my newest CD, Ain’t The Same As Before, which I plan to release in April. I must admit though, I do have a little post-production-depression. While I enjoy being on the road and sharing music, I REALLY love being in the recording studio surrounded by many instruments and the collaborative spirit of talented musicians working together toward a common goal. I have never before experienced the ease at which all of the parts came together on this recording, and it has me really excited to share it. It’s been a collaborative effort from the start with most of the songs being co-written by myself and several songwriters I admire: James Moors and Kevin DeForrest. Contributing musicians include Jim Gilmour (producer, engineer, mixer, arranger, electric bass, harmony vocals, all-around good guy), Beth Wilberger (violin, viola, harmony vocals), Jeff Poremski (electric guitar) and Russ Lawton (drums), each bringing tons of talent to the table. On the road, I guess I am the core of the “band” with an ever-changing ensemble of collaborative musicians that round out the sound. I am looking forward to playing with Thomas Sneed (Reeltime Travelers) and Ben Winship (Brother Mule, Kane’s River and The Growling Old Men) this week in Jackson Hole. It’s also been a huge collaborative effort on the parts of you, my fans. Many of you have pre-purchased the new CD which goes a long way toward helping me afford the project, so thank you, thank you, thank you.

Copyright 2010 Somewhere To Go Music, ASCAP. All Rights Reserved. All wrongs revenged. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws. Artwork & Photos by Leslie Judice, Amy Fortunato, Josh Elioseff and Travis Bush, unless otherwise stated. Website design and development by True Green Studios.