Montana native playing folk night at The Newberry

The Newberry will be hosting its first folk night on Jan. 10 and one of the artists performing that night is Cary Morin, a Montana native.

He’ll be joined by Scott Cook and Stephie James.

Morin was born in Billings and moved to Great Falls when he was about five years old and left for Colorado shortly after graduating high school in the early 1980s.

It’s been about eight years since he’s played in Montana, but Morin said he’d been back to visit a few times.

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“One of the great things about growing up in Great Falls back in those days, we’re talking the 70s, was the music. Back then, there were a couple of bands around town that played every night. It was an opportunity to get to know these guys and listen to what they did quite often and as a child I was very impressed with all the musicianship. And they’d also hit you up from time to time so you got a lot of real time experience so that had a huge influence on how I ended up pursuing music for myself,” Morin said.

He said most of them were county bands, but some were more bluegrass or country rock and “I was pretty impressed with all of that.”

Great Falls has changed quite a bit since he left but there are a handful of places he recognizes from his youth.

He said many of the changes have been similar to the changes he sees in other places, such as more big box stores and chains and fewer family owned businesses.

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“In some ways, the towns around this country are starting to look pretty similar,” Morin said. “There will always be things from my childhood that survived, I definitely noticed that the last time we were in town. Montana is probably is one of those places in the country where you’ll see old time things you remember from the 70s that survive and are still there.”

Morin said he’s looking forward to playing The Newberry, hearing the other musicians and “seeing some old friends and hopefully make some new ones too.”

This will be the first folk night at The Newberry, where staff “is very interested in a relaxed, seated concert that captures more members of the Great Falls community. Most of The Newberry shows are standing room only, but we wanted to explore some unique, seated music opportunities with our Folk Night. We will be featuring story telling, humor, and great music on this night. We have focused on some country and rock shows in the past, but are looking to expand our genres in the new year,” said Kaylee Osentowski, general manager of events and production. “Folk Night at The Newberry is a great opportunity for people to come out and hear some great stories and music, while exploring the genre of folk.”

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Over his years touring the country and Europe, he said he sometimes bumps into musicians from place to place and social media has made it easier for them to stay in touch.

“It’s amazing, to stay in touch with old friends that used to appreciate the same things that I did from way back then, including those that were childhood heroes and now some are friends.”

Lately, Morin has been working on a project that involves studying Charlie Russell paintings and creating songs from the situations in the paintings, but that work is so new, he’s not sure he’ll be ready to play it at the January folk night.

He also did an album recently in Louisiana that was his songs with help from some pretty well respected musicians from the Lafayette, Louisiana area. The album, Dockside Saints, has created a different sound from his other recordings thanks to the regional flavor and he plans to play some of those songs.

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His style, according to his website, is often “characterized as acoustic Native Americana with qualities of blues, bluegrass, jazz, jam, reggae and dance.”

To Morin, music and art is a significant part of society.

“I think society can’t really survive without beauty, so the art hat is provided by sculptors and painters and people that do classic work with whatever they work with, wood or music or even building instruments. I think it’s a huge, huge part of society. I’ve noticed that a lot of private entities have tried to pick up the slack there and try to provide encouragement for younger folks who might now otherwise be exposed to art in any form.”

For Morin, performing is always a thrill.

“One thing I’ve really tried to hold on to over the years as a songwriter and a musician, is to be able to go out in front of an audience of any size with one guitar and a microphone and try to pull something off that is going to stick with people.”