Although pursuing a career in music is a choice for some, it is destiny for others. The latter definitely applies to Moncton’s Chris Colepaugh.
For the last two decades, Colepaugh has fronted his namesake band, Chris Colepaugh and The Cosmic Crew, touring throughout Canada and the U.S. supporting acts including Big Sugar, Gov’t Mule and more.
Additionally, however, Colepaugh has flexed his muscle as an in-demand producer for a myriad of local talent, and as a part of Roch Voisine’s band, has toured throughout Canada and Europe, even making an appearance at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
When it comes to music, Colepaugh is such a natural at virtually everything he plays, Voisine once joked, “[he] can seemingly pick up whatever instrument is given to him and play. I hate guys like that,” Voisine laughed. “But at the same token, I can rest easy knowing that if someone ever faints on stage, Chris will be able to pick up the slack with no hesitation.”
The show Colepaugh brings to Casino New Brunswick’s Hub City Pub on Thursday evening – a free show that kicks off at 8 p.m. – is yet another demonstration of his sweeping capabilities. The performance will see Colepaugh performing solo, delighting audiences with his renditions of some of the greatest songs of the last 50-plus years.
According to Colepaugh, shows like this have helped broaden his musical pallet even further:
“The idea to do solo shows really stemmed from the fact that my guitars were just going to be gathering dust when I wasn’t working with the band,” an affable Colepaugh says. “I really got behind the idea that it would be great to sit and play songs for people that I would want to hear.”
With a catalogue of more than 1,000 songs at his disposal, the musician says audience requests often range from “typical” fare, including The Beatles, Roy Orbison and Crosby, Stills & Nash, to more “out there” picks like 1999’s “Mambo No. 5.”
“Much of my versatility stems from the fact I was exposed to so much in the way of music when I was growing up. My father would play Guy Lombardo and Glenn Miller at dinner, but would also listen to Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
“My father eventually moved onto playing music during Sunday mass, and, before long, had me sitting in with him, showing me a whole other world of amazing melodies. It was those different experiences that added up to making me who I am today.”
Colepaugh’s musical versatility, knowledge and appreciation of varied styles of music were something that was instilled in him at an early age courtesy of his family. Despite his musical upbringing and background, he says his parents never forced the issue of taking lessons upon him, and instead decided to let him steer where he wanted to go.
“Growing up, if my father wasn’t playing the piano, there was always a radio or stereo playing. I was probably three or four years old when I began messing around on the piano, which I stuck with until I was 11-12 years old when I decided I wanted to be a drummer.”
After having mastered the drums, Colepaugh set his sights on what many would argue is his true musical calling: the guitar.
“I had been playing drums for awhile and then saw a broadcast of the Woodstock concert on Muchmusic,” Colepaugh recalls. “I saw Crosby, Stills & Nash perform ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’ and something clicked. Their performance floored me; it was a pivotal moment. I spent hours watching and re-watching their performance of that song. It became the first song I learned how to play on the guitar.”
Colepaugh has since parlayed teaching himself guitar into a full-time occupation that sees him perform in the Metro Moncton area three to four times each week. He acknowledges that while some may see performing the music of others as somehow compromising, he feels it is an important facet of who he is as a musician.
“Fame and fortune can be fleeting. I just wanted to do my best to make a living by playing music. Some people might look down on it, but I’m out there making a living from singing some of the world’s best songs to people. If you had asked 10 year-old me what I would be doing at 41, I never could have dreamed that I would be playing music as a full-time occupation. Between this, my work with my band and the music I make with Roch [Voisine],I truly couldn’t be happier.”
What: Chris Colepaugh
When: Thursday Dec. 17, 8 p.m.
Where: Hub City Pub, located inside Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Admission is free