From Riverview High School to the world stage, life-long Riverview resident Chris Colepaugh will always be the first to acknowledge his good fortune when it has come to making music for a living.
Of course, Chris’ career has not been solely a matter of fortune. One of the city’s most versatile and acclaimed musicians, Chris has made a career for himself playing alongside Roch Voisine in recent years, touring throughout Canada and Europe while also having performed at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Chris’ history with music runs much deeper than the past five years, however. Prior to joining Voisine’s band in 2009, Chris along with his wife Lynn comprised two-thirds of Chris Colepaugh and the Cosmic Crew.
With more than a handful of independently released albums to their credit in addition to live performances supporting acts ranging from Big Sugar and Gov’t Mule to the North Mississippi All-Stars, Chris Colepaugh and The Cosmic Crew are set to rise again.
Their free performance at Riverview’s Caseley Park on Wednesday evening marks the first time in what Chris considers to be “too long” since they last performed.
“Shows these days for the Cosmic Crew are too few and far between. There is definitely not as many as I would like us to be performing but it is simply a matter of being too busy which, as a self-employed musician, isn’t something I am going to dream of complaining of,” Chris says.
“I love all of my gigs but there is still nothing like strapping on the double neck guitar and ripping out some of my original music.”
Speaking from Maine early last week, Chris was caught up in rehearsals. Serving as a part of the house band for the Congres Mondial Acadien, Chris also performed with Roch Voisine who just happens to be serving as the spokesperson for CMA 2014.
Chris speaks flatteringly well about being given the opportunity to perform with Voisine. Introduced to Voisine by his drummer Shawn Sasyniuk (who also often performs with Chris as a part of the Cosmic Crew), Voisine doled out equally high praise for Chris in a 2010 interview with the Times & Transcript.
“Having Chris in the band is actually one of the first times I have had someone so versatile that 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.”
When it comes to touring as a part of Voisine’s band, Chris has literally been whisked all over the world. While Voisine’s popularity has remained strong in Canada, Chris says the singer has a nearly rabid following throughout France, Belgium and Switzerland, where shows are routinely sold-out.
Naturally, it is Chris’ down-to-earth approach that has endeared him to not only Voisine but his fans as well.
“No matter who you are, you have to work at keeping your chops up. It is inevitable that there is always going to be somebody better and faster than I am. All I can do is go out there on stage every night and do my best. I think a big part of what has helped me succeed in music has been my attitude towards it. Roch knows that anytime he looks my way, I am going to have an ear-to-ear smile to offer him in return. Playing live is such a big part of why I love what I do,” Chris says.
Chris says that while he was fortunate enough to perform as a part of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, he found the sense of community among Canadian athletes and musicians to be even stronger in Russia. Being so far from home, Chris says the Canadian spirit was especially strong amongst everyone at Canada House.
But being an equally passionate music fan, Chris says that he feels free to indulge his inner fan when performing with Voisine at venues like France’s Olympia where some of his heroes played before him.
“To be on stage at the Olympia in Paris and play where guys like Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney and Led Zeppelin played before me – the ‘wow’ factor of getting to do what I do will never be lost on me.”
Wherever his travels happen to take him over the coming months and years, Chris promises that there is more music from the Cosmic Crew to come. He says that the trio intends to start recording their next studio album, the long-awaited follow-up to 2010’s Missed A Page, over the course of the next couple of months.
Like a proud father, Chris loves all of his music equally but notes that the spirit of the songs slated to comprise the group’s next effort harkens back to the gritty, rock-oriented sounds of their earlier records.
“We have a wealth of songs waiting to be recorded, it is simply a matter of determining what kind of record we want to make. There are a lot of heavier, riff-oriented songs in there, stuff that might make it seem that we are reverting back to the sound of our second and third records. But we also have a generous amount of acoustic material as well. We have never wanted to pigeon-hole our sound.”
“My goal has always been to write a decent song that someone wants to listen to.”
What: Chris Colepaugh & The Cosmic Crew
When: Wednesday, Aug. 20, 7 p.m.
Where: Caseley Park, Riverview
Admission is free. In the event of rain, the show will move to Riverview Community Hall, 145A Lakeside Dr.