EVANSTON — Sometimes a great live performance involves multiple people, several or even dozens of instruments, elaborate sets and props, costume changes, dancers and more. Other times a great live performance involves an empty stage, a lone man and a guitar.
The latter was what was in store for those who attended the first Arts, Inc. concert at the Strand Theatre on Friday, Sept. 7, as Native American blues guitarist Cary Morin provided Evanston folks with an evening of stories, laughs and, of course, music.
Morin said he grew up in the west – Great Falls, Montana, to be specific – and, although he travels the world with his music, he feels most comfortable and at home in the west. The stories told through his music reflect that, including songs about forest fires, fly fishing and living in an RV in Colorado for a time.
Morin’s songs also include some based on a character he invented. “He’s only real in my mind,” he said. This character has long gray hair and a gray beard, lives on a big river and “looks like he just walked right off the set of The Hobbit,” said Morin.
The talented musician spent the evening alone on the stage with his very plain acoustic guitar that lacked any decoration whatsoever. Morin said he loves the guitar, even writing a love song about the instrument while he was on tour in Europe.
Other songs throughout the evening included a couple of cover songs that audience members may have recognized as “Back on the Train” by Phish and “Dire Wolf” by The Grateful Dead.
Morin spoke frequently about his wife and traveling the country together while he tours. “You see a lot of new things driving around the country,” he said. Their dog Zeus accompanies them on these trips; Morin said during the performance at the Strand Zeus was “in the trailer listening to Steely Dan.”
Arts, Inc. Executive Director Carolee Bowen said about 80 people attended the concert and the Strand was “just the right size for a smaller concert.” She said people were excited to have a blues artist perform locally.
The next Arts, Inc. concert at the Strand will be on Friday, Nov. 2, when Wyoming-based country band Brand 307 will perform.