Seldom does a performer grab my attention so instantly and completely as Cary Morin. The first time I heard him was in a small club in Key West. I was transfixed.
I bought his most recent CD, Tiny Town, released in 2014, and brought it home for a listen. I wasn’t disappointed. Morin, who sings and plays guitar and pedal steel on the CD, wrote twelve of its fourteen songs. Morin plays acoustic fingerstyle blues and sings with a soulful resonance.
At a house concert the following Saturday, Morin played with veteran blues player Bill Blue (Yes, it’s his real name.). Blue, whose CD Mojolation has spent months on the top of the international blues charts, describes the experience as “like listening to Doc Watson with a ponytail.”
Morin’s performance delighted the crowd at the house concert. In a tropical Key West backyard, full of music fans eating dinner and socializing—there might have been alcohol involved—Morin’s performance prompted the attentive silence of a concert hall.
The most memorable song of the evening was Valley of the Chiefs, a Morin original that appears on Tiny Town. In his introduction to the song, Morin described his traditional Crow naming ceremony in which the oldest member of the family named the newborn. Morin’s grandmother, then over one hundred years old, told the story that became the song, her story of her abduction, when she was sixteen, and of her and her companions’ triumphant escape. “True story,” Morin told me. True story, indeed. It spoke to me, as did the rest of his original songs, and urged me to listen again and again.
If Cary Morin comes to your town, go to listen. But also go to watch him play. Watch his hands on the guitar. And listen to his stories. In the meantime, there is always the CD.
(Sally Galbraith lives in Key West. She is the editor of The Soul of Key West, the story of Key West music.)