Caribou Mountain Collective: Music Combining Best of Two Camps
The name "Caribou Mountain Collective" has a refined, classical air about it. But don't be confused. They can get down, speed up the rhythm, and jam at the drop of a hat.
Brian Johnson of Marquee Magazine probably explains the dichotomy best: "The band grew out of open Bluegrass pickings in Nederland, Colorado, in 2012. Despite that, it has made it seem almost effortless to keep one foot on the traditional side of the fence, and the other dirty bare foot in the grassy hills of the high country."
CMC's guitarist Miles Perry concurs. "Our album ['Went Down with the Sun,' recorded in Boulder.] is kind of more Americana Bluegrassy. We still have feet in traditional and jammy sides and we kind of come out somewhere in the middle. We have a lot of parts that we have set, but there's still room for improvisation."
Combining these forces is made possible by such talents as fiddler (aka, violinist) Etienne Cremieux, a grad of the Berklee College of Music; bassist Curly Collins, and former RockyGrass dobro champion Allen Crooke. And to say they've accomplished a lot in a short amount of time is an understatement.
They started off in 2015 with some snazzy gigs with the Jeff Austin Band and the Wood Brothers, and kept going with what Marquee calls "a deluge of concerts" as far away as New York City, including such venues as The Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival and RockyGrass (yep, THAT Rocky Grass.)
They also had high-profile help on producing their album. Hot Rize's Nick Forster was at the helm, and he tells how he first found out about CMC: "I first heard these guys at a party in a friend's backyard, and I was impressed by their approach...good singing, respect for tradition, but original songs and good instrumental skills.
"I agreed to work with them on a couple of songs for their new CD, and we spent most of our time working on the songs themselves, knowing that it all starts there. They were responsive to my ideas, willing to embrace new approaches, and the results were strong. When the record came out, I heard the rest of their songs and they impressed me even more. They're off to a great start."
As one critic puts it, "With the new album and some of the higher profile festivals the band has spit-started not only their sound but also their look. The video 'Long Gone,' the album's first single, which predated its release, not only shows the quartet playing in top form, but also shows three of the members wearing ties."
"I've never been one to dress up," says Perry. But yeah, we kind of started to buckle down on that."
Though Perry is a relative newcomer to songwriting, you'd never know it from the CD. "I usually write songs at my house," he says, "and then I try to give them to everybody with a totally open mind to say, 'Let's make this a Caribou song.' And they just, well, yeah..."