Award-winning singer and songwriter follows the cowboy trail back to Roswell
There are those artists who claim an affinity for their musical roots, but then reinvent them in ways that have scant bearing on the past. Others identify with the heartland but have no genuine stake in the actual environs. So when an artist like Corb Lund comes along and shares honesty and authenticity in a way that melds past with present, it’s indeed worthy of notice.
Lund is an award-winning, vintage country performer who spent his 20s, interestingly, in an indie rock band. He embraces his rich and rustic western heritage with a style that’s unique, honest and resolute, while touching on a range of cowboy themes both past and present — from rough-and-tumble tales of lawless frontier saloons, to the somber realities of running a modern family ranch. He sings about a life that he and his ancestors have lived themselves, paired with his quick-witted, wry observations of today’s world.
As a result, his writing resonates emphatically with rural and urban audiences alike. It’s a classic sound with a twist, something of a rarity these days, but one that evokes the spirit of the American West, winning over appreciative audiences at rodeos, fairs, festivals and other events where tales of fearless explorers, determined homesteaders and committed cattle ranchers still hold a powerful sway.
Lund played last summer at Pecos Flavors Winery + Bistro. “I love New Mexico, it’s a great state. I’ve got some good friends there,” he said.
Asked what or who influenced him to switch from indie rock to country, Lund said, “The first half of my life was all western stuff, largely Marty Robbins and the old cowboy ballads my grandpas sang; they both ranched. Then in my teens, I got into loud rock-and-roll and had an underground rock band called The Smalls in my 20s. The music I make now is a combination of those things. Cowboy heritage mixed with the quirkiness of indie rock. I write a lot about family history and the west. I call my genre ‘Agricultural Tragic’. #AgTrag for short.”
It seems that modern times come with different challenges. Lund has some advice for younger musicians trying to get into the industry. “You have to really, really love to play music, and continually go back and improve your skills,” he said. “Singing, playing, writing, all of it. And have a work ethic and be prepared to have some lean years. The record label big business lottery was always a long shot, and these days it’s hardly existent. You have to do everything yourself until you build up an audience. Make your own posters, take your own pictures, make your own records, fix your own van, all of it.”
Asked how his preferences are to interact with his fans, he said, “Live concerts all day long. Social media makes me feel anxious and bad about myself. Playing live music is the reason I got into this. I don’t even love making records the way I love playing live. It’s the best thing ever.”
Every artist is different. Some enjoy finding their inspiration in solitude; others prefer to be with friends and family. Lund’s comes from his family and western history. “I believe strongly in regionalism in art, meaning it’s important to be yourself in your art, and strive for authenticity,” he said. “For me, that’s growing up a rural kid in the Alberta foothills, with a long line of cowboy ancestors, and then plunging into a whole other rock-and-roll world for a while. Then coming out the other side writing my own brand of western music. I’d have probably kept rodeoing if I hadn’t started playing music. Rodeo runs deep on both sides of my family, and I rode steers as a kid and bulldogged a little in high school rodeos. But then I discovered Les Pauls and Stratocasters.”
Lund is looking forward to his 2019 tour. “Every tour of the western U.S. we do gets better, so I’m looking forward to playing a ton of shows down there. I love the American West. My ancestors are all from Utah and a few were in northern Nevada. Alberta isn’t a lot different, just colder. I feel a strong kinship with the folks all down the Rockies to Texas — the cowboy trail, basically. Looking forward to making a new record, too. I’m excited about my new batch of tunes.”
With nine studio albums under his belt, multiple Canadian Country Music Association, Juno, and international award nomination and wins, Lund is well-recognized as a musical force to be reckoned with. His seventh album, “Cabin Fever,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Charts. He has three gold records; and his latest release, “Things That Can’t Be Undone,” cemented his status as one of the best contemporary country singer/songwriters working today. Rolling Stone declared him one of the “10 New Country Artists You Need to Know.”
Lund is going to perform with Jason Eady at The Liberty Club, 312 N. Virginia Ave., Jan. 25 at 6 p.m. “Honkytonks and saloons are our natural habitat,” he said. “We’re a fun band to drink beer to, so come see us.”
The event is for members and invited guests. For more information, visit thelibertyinc.com or call 575-627-2121.
Christina Stock may be contacted at 622-7710, ext. 309, or at email@example.com.