Corb Lund has a thing for the American West, and for our state in particular.
One of Canada's two best Americana artists — the other being Blue Rodeo — the Juno award-winner has been known to play as many as nine Colorado gigs on a single U.S. tour.
Lund will be returning to the 87,000-acre Chico Basin Ranch this Saturday on a bill with cowboy-folk legend Ian Tyson and local musicians Chauncy Crandall and Grass It Up. (Find a full weekend schedule, including camping information, at chicobasinranch.com.)
We caught up with the charismatic singer-songwriter, who was somewhere on the road between Idaho and Colorado, to talk about this weekend's gig and what it is that keeps drawing him back to this area.
"Chico Basin is a special gig for me," says Lund of the Colorado Springs ranch, which should also be the perfect campfire-lit location for viewing this weekend's meteor showers. "I've played a number of shows there the past few years, and I love those guys. They're running that ranch in a very old-school way designed to preserve the native grass and keep the place pristine like in the bison days."
An alt-country artist whom the New York Times likened to "a smart-alecky Cormac McCarthy," Lund stands apart from the legion of all-hat, no-cattle musicians who populate the columns of No Depression.
"My people were all cowboys that came up from Utah and Nevada and homesteaded in southern Alberta 120 years ago," says the ranch-raised musician, whose best work ranks up there with Gram Parsons and early Steve Earle. "So I feel very at home in your neck of the woods."
Lund also appreciates how Coloradans tend not to follow a single party line when it comes to individual issues. He says one of the Colorado promoters he's worked with put it best: "I got a pistol and a bag of weed on the front seat. And damn it, I got papers for both of them!"
Cabin Fever, the latest album by Corb Lund & the Hurtin' Albertans, covers a lot of ground, from the hilarious "Bible on the Dash" to the eerie "One Left in the Chamber."
"Both of those are co-writes, which are rare for me," says Lund of the tracks he penned with Texas friends Hayes Carll and Matt Skinner. "'Bible' was just kind of a fun romp based on years of being hassled by cops, since I live a scruffy, subversive life. I had the chorus for years and couldn't finish it. Hayes sparked the sprint to the finish on that one."
And then there's "Chamber," with lyrics like: "There's the one I should have walked away from / Come right home to you / And the one left in the chamber oughtta do."
"That was Matt's idea," says Lund. "He had the key snippet, and we banged it around for a while and came up with it. I thought the key line was very chilling the first time I heard it. I trust those kinds of feelings with songs. If they do it to me, they usually do it to the listener."
The song also name-checks Colorado, while the recent "September" single mentions "a thousand acres in the Rocky Mountains." So is that our mountain range in the video, or someone else's?
"Nope, that's back home in southern Alberta," says Lund. "We got Rockies up in Canada, too, nice ones. That's another thing Alberta has in common with Colorado. Cattle and mountains."