Apr
29

Local Music Spotlight: Chris Cullen of Candid Coyote

Christopher Cullen

If you’ve had any contact with the music scene in Ogden, you’ll have heard of Candid Coyote. The first time I ever heard the music of Christopher Cullen at Mojo’s I was immediately astounded by the tall, stoic man in the hat with his soulful sound. He has been an amazing friend to Indie Ogden, playing at our Tears Foundation Benefit Concert & just being an all-around rad dude. I have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with him from time to time at Open Mic at the Sand Trap (Tuesdays! Be there – it’s amazing!), talking music & getting a chance to know one of the nicest folks in Ogden. He recently won first place at Kamikaze’s Battle of the Bands! We were on staff & got a bit of a chance to talk to him, but I wanted more!

**Note: Chris’s newest album, Blessed Be Those Who Weep, is now available to download from iTunes, CDBaby & soon (if WE have anything to do with it) all over Ogden! Check it out & SUPPORT LOCAL!**

I recently played a li’l bit of 20 questions with him to let you, our readers, get a glimpse into the workings of one of Ogden’s brightest new stars’ mind, what he’s got planned for the future, what music he likes best & what he thinks of this wonderful town we live in!

 

Where are you from?
I was born in Tucson, Arizona, but Utah has been my home for the vast majority of my memorable life.

How long have you lived in Ogden?
My folks moved here when I was still a youngin’, probably about the age of 4 or so. It took me nearly all but the other 17 years of my life to find the redeeming side of Ogden. There are some truly beautiful people here, in all aspects of the word. It takes a bit of digging, but once you find them, it’s one big, awe-inspiring family.

What do you like most about Ogden?
I really enjoy the profound emphasis that having an ultra-conservative mainstream population places on the need for a thriving counter-culture. It has provided me with a strange, but much welcomed, sort of inspiration. To me, it seems like when you tell a person there is something fundamentally wrong with them for not conforming to social norms, one of two things happens: they crack under the cultural pressure and succumb to popular demands, or they feel twice the need to express their individuality and prove to the world that it is worth something. Fortunately, there are enough people doing the latter in this town to provide a really awesome support group for each other, which give way to a lovely snowball effect of self-expression and liberation.

What’s your favorite thing about the local music scene?
I’d have to say my favorite thing about the music scene in Ogden is how beautifully uncanny it is. There is so much phenomenal talent pouring out of a place you’d never expect it to be. It’s a very empowering thing to witness.

How long have you been making music?
I started playing the guitar when I was pretty young, probably near the age of 12. My dad had an old Yamaha acoustic that I learned some chords on and began playing along with whatever awful music my youth-debauched mind happened to be listening to. However, it wasn’t until my high school years that I began writing my first songs. That’s when music became real to me, and I began playing almost incessantly. Since then, I’ve finished writing something close now to 200 songs. It’s only been in the past year or two, though, that I feel I’ve really began to uncover my own sound and be able to accurately express through song what is truest to my heart and eyes. Songwriting, for quite some time now, has been my greatest tool for understanding the world I’m surrounded by and the ways in which it affects me.

What are your influences?
I am entirely captivated by the majority of prominent early American folk, blues, and gospel artists. Among these are guys like Woodie Guthrie, Son House, Leadbelly, Doc Boggs, and Mississippi John Hurt. I feel that the tremendous influence this generation of musicians had on the course of how music and songwriting in this country was developed is vastly unrecognized and underappreciated.

Moving down the timeline a bit, you have folks like, Hank Williams, Dylan, Cash, Doc Watson (rest his soul), John Prine, and Townes Van Zant, who really expounded on the foundations of songwriting that were set before them. There’s a whole culture of folk music in this country that cross-references itself through song borrowing (or even subtler, the occasional stealing of a line) that I am absolutely fascinated by.

I’m a huge bluegrass fan as well, which, in my mind, has had a similar progression, stemming from folks like Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley. The duo Gillian Welch and David Rawlings was the missing link for me between my world and these past generations, and possibly even a past-life that I speculate I’ve had somewhere down south. They remain my one truest love in music today.

The list goes on and on, but there are a lot of absolutely phenomenal songwriters alive in the world right now, too. Probably more than there ever has been. Some of my favorite contemporary artists are Josh Ritter, Justin Townes Earle, Ryan Adams, and Old Crow Medicine Show.

Where can people find you playing?
I’ve been performing pretty regularly (at least once a week lately) around the Ogden bar scene, as well as whatever other opportunities arise in the area. The Sand Trap (on 28th and Washington) has been the closest thing I’ve had to a home-base for playing music in this town. The staff there, particularly Dana Auman and Carrie Gerber, has continuously greeted me with remarkably open arms and warm hearts since I first stepped in to play a show on my 21st birthday. I’ve been trying to make it a point to attend the Open Mic they host every Tuesday night. That place is just buzzing with beautiful, supportive souls for whom I have endless gratitude for helping open the floodgates between my dreams and reality.

I try to post the shows I’m playing on my website www.reverbnation.com/candidcoyote or Facebook page as soon as I find out about them. It was just confirmed that I’ll be on the Uncle Uncanny’s bill this year, which I could not be more excited about!

Anything new in the works?
Everything new is always in the works for me. At risk of getting ahead of myself, I’ll say that I have at least 3 full length records that I’m absolutely itching to make. I feel that it will take quite a while for me just to get caught up with things I’ve already been wanting and planning to do musically, and new songs are still coming every other week or so. I’ve found a lot more avenues for expressing this ambition lately, but I plan on devoting as much energy as is humanly possible to it until my heart no longer feels that it is bursting at the seams with ideas and songs that should have already been shared with the world. Realistically, I’m focusing my efforts on releasing at least one solid studio album this summer. If and when that finally comes together, I will be ecstatic. Also, I sincerely thank anyone who has contributed to this vision by picking up one of the hand-written demo CDs I’ve been bringing to my shows.

What changes have you noticed in Ogden?
It seems like the ball of culture is really starting to get rolling in this town lately. I don’t know how much of that goes to the fact that I am kind of new in observing the artistic atmosphere here, but I feel that even in the short time I’ve been lucky enough to see it, things are getting progressively more awesome. Not just with music either, but all forms of cultural-self-expression and the spirit of beauty and freedom needed to create it.

What would you like to see in the future?
I suppose I would like to see more touring bands brought to this town. I ain’t the mayor, or a man with exceptionally deep pockets, but I think it would really help if the amphitheater on 25th were utilized more. I think there should be more all-ages places available for people to frequent for the sole purpose of hearing live music. I’ve really enjoyed playing the bar scene, as I mentioned, but in all honesty, I’m typically in no position to be absorbing new, heartfelt music, after I’ve had a few drinks in me and am in a rowdy place… so you can’t exactly expect other people to, either.

Advice for our readers?
The only bit of advice that has proven itself to me in this world is to follow the path of love and passion that is written on your heart. This goes for anyone and everyone – musicians or otherwise. If you feel deeply compelled to do something, do it. And do it with utmost sincerity. It takes a while, and a whole lot of looking at yourself in the mirror or your mind’s eye, to shut out what other people are expecting of you and be able to see clearly what you truly want to be or do, but I believe that it is the most worth-while thing a soul can do… and if it does, that person will rarely feel lost for direction in this world. I feel tremendously fortunate to have been able to find my passion and share it with the world. I would encourage others to do the same.

3 Things people don’t know about you & should?
The vast majority of “me” lives under the skin and beneath the surface of conversation. I’d sort of like to keep it that way. I interact much better on a personal level and the whole out-and-about-extroverted-social thing has kind of been a new undertaking for me (and direct consequence of performing music, as I see it). I will say, though, I put all of my “self”, and the heart it holds, into the songs I sing. Listening to them would say more about me than I ever could, as I feel that they are where I am able to most accurately express myself. The only crucial thing I want people to know is how infinitely grateful I am for their love and support.

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About Jenny

Jenny Shaw is a die-hard Ogdeneer; local community supporter, little bit of a hippy, lover of music, anything British and sparkles. She can be found regularly at the Grounds for Coffee on 30th and Harrison, doing homework and drinking coffee or at the Sandtrap on any given Wednesday, singing her heart out at karaoke.

When she isn’t helping with Indie Ogden, she is volunteering all over town, when she's not at work with the Ogden-Weber Community Action Partnership (Head Start). Jenny also works with the Buy Local (Ogden) group and is passionate about promoting, connecting and uplifting local businesses to make a stronger, more unified community and economy.

If you ever want to catch Jenny, just track her down at MacCool’s for ½ priced appetizers, at any of the fabulous vintage stores scattered throughout Ogden playing dress-up with Mikaela, or with the rest of Indie Ogden wandering around our lovely town.

Comments

  1. Chris came and played at our open mic fight down in Orem. Dude is a phenomenal talent. Not many people make me cry with their songs, but one of his songs had me sobbing. He is really awesome and anyone that gets the chance should go hear him play.

    • He is by far one of my favorite local talents, for sure. It really is an honor to know him & it is always fun to see him on stage.

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