Ross Neilsen reviews RnR, the latest from Chris Colepaugh and the Cosmic Crew.
Ross Neilsen | @RossNeilsen
Time. What a strange thing. When younger it creeps along like a fuzzy caterpillar. Your parents threaten you to not wish it away as one day it will move so quickly you’ll wonder if you were ever really there at all. Your memories will blur, turning fuzzy like the caterpillar of your youth. Through life this continues. A constant reliable non reality. The skewed perception of what once was. So how is it then that there are some things viewed as timeless? What does that even mean? Impervious to time. That the rising and setting sun, the accumulating minutes, hours and days, the undeniable turning of the world has no effect on some things? How can this be? How can this be proven?
Music is a miraculous and magical thing. The same piece of music can move one person to joy while allowing the painful wolves of sorrow to run wild through another. Some pieces of music can be conceived and captured days, months, years even hundreds of years ago and still be every bit as relevant and important in the moment.
I have been listening to Chris Colepaugh and The (Cosmic) Crew for decades. Yes. Decades. Time would indicate I am in my forties. Old to some. However, when I listen to the new recording by CC & C I am instantly 21 again. Standing in the Cellar Pub in a haze of tobacco and other smoke. There is a decent crowd there. We’re near the front. I’m intoxicated. Swaying to the music. Loving it. It’s a power trio. The bassist is a lovely looking lady. The front man has a wiry beard. A hat. Glasses. He is playing a red 335. It is loud. I am loving it. The guitar player is blowing my mind. The band is called Chris Colepaugh & The Cosmic Crew. I become a lifelong fan and Chris becomes a major musical influence on me. Out there doing it. Touring. Recording. Repeating. Eventually we become friends and more amazing to me, peers.
It’s been six years since CC & C released a new studio recording. Six years. How did that happen? It seems like just yesterday I was rocking out to my favourite tracks from Missed a Page. But no. That was six years ago. I was in my mid thirties and doing the thing I learned how to do by watching acts like CC & C very close. I was touring. Recording. Repeating.
Since that last album, Chris has spent most of his time as side man to Canada’s Roch Voisine. One might perceive this to be a comfortable way to make a musical living. He has played the worlds top venues including a performance to millions of people during an Olympic broadcast. For some artists, time dilutes. Time withers. Time weakens. It is a very small few who are strengthened by time.
On this new release, titled RnR, Colepaugh has grown stronger, and musically wiser in his experiences with time. RnR hits hard. Heavy riff rock. Soaring guitar harmonies that would make any southern rock act envious. The jingle-jangle of the double neck Gibson 12-string we have come to associate with the visual image of Colepaugh. Vocal melodies reminiscent of the sort of pop music made famous in the 60’s by British rock acts like The Beatles and The Kinks. All tracks on RnR are performed and recorded by Colepaugh himself yet somehow sound like a band performance on each song.
The track list is an array of rockers fit for the airwaves of the 70’s and yet could easily be the crutch that a limping mainstream radio industry so badly needs. Rock music with content. Smart lyrics penned by Colepaugh and his long time collaborative partner, Craig Watson. There’s even a cover of a Big Star tune. Are they jumping on the band wagon and capitalizing on the resurgence of Big Star, via the documentary Nothing Can Hurt Me, or are they just recognizing a great song and paying homage to their roots? It doesn’t matter because they nail it to the wall. Other stand out tracks to me are the opener Stateless, Tell on me and my favourite, The Ghosts.
So if you need to time travel. If you need to feel good. Or bad. If you need to Rock ‘n Roll or perhaps you need a little Rest and Relaxation. If you need to go backward, or forward…check out this latest release. There has been nothing lost in Colepaugh’s craft in his six year absence. He has returned from the sideman shadow. Stronger and more timeless than ever. Long live RnR.
March 11, 2016 – Chris Colepaugh – Live By Request @ St James Gate – Fox Creek (Dieppe, NB)
March 25, 2016 – Chris Colepaugh and the Cosmic Crew @ Hunters Ale House (Charlottetown, PE)
April 1, 2016 – Chris Colepaugh – Live By Request @ St James Gate – Fox Creek (Dieppe, NB)
April 8, 2016 – Chris Colepaugh – Live By Request @ St James Gate – Fox Creek (Dieppe, NB)
April 22, 2016 – Chris Colepaugh – Live By Request @ St James Gate – Fox Creek (Dieppe, NB)
April 23, 2016 – JUGGLER’S WHOLE @ Hub City Pub – Casino New Brunswick (Moncton, NB)
May 13, 2016 – Lavigne Tavern @ Lavigne Tavern (Lavigne, ON)
May 27, 2016 – CHRIS COLEPAUGH AND THE COSMIC CREW @ Brutopia (Montreal, PQ)