Many Mountains — interview and show review by Brian DeSpain
Longs Peak Pub & Taphouse, Longmont CO 11/6
Boulder County establishments have played an important role in the Front Range music scene. Some are still determining when to reopen. Those back in operation haven’t immediately resumed their pre-pandemic live music formats.
On November 6, Longs Peak Pub in Longmont kicked off the return of their Music Nights, with Many Mountains as the first entrant, a folk-rock duo, based in the southeast Boulder County community of Louisville.
KR Nelson and Dustin Moran, the team who comprise the band, started out the New Year with a new album Endless Time. Since the January 1 release, Many Mountains has had select outdoor shows.
The cover art for Endless Time features a design by legendary psychedelic artist Alan Forbes who created the signature icon for The Black Crowes and has done album work for many others, including Chris Robinson Brotherhood and Widespread Panic.
As would be expected with a pub and dining establishment versus a music hall, the set was heavier on cover songs. Those were revealing of the band’s underpinnings in ways that wouldn’t be possible at venues like Globe Hall or Lost Lake, where they have performed in Denver.
Many Mountains start out with “Evil is Alive and Well” by Jakob Dylan and kept it in the family next with “Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan, followed by Funkadelic’s “Can You Get to That.”
Many Mountains then eased into their catalogue, with the sultry “Dry Leaves in the Fire” from the new album and then played a very deep cut “Extended Stay Blues” – written after Nelson and Moran moved to Colorado “and stayed too long at the lodging.”
The band dug into songs from their previous album No Looking Back (2017) with “Yer Gone” spaced with “Such a Night” by Dr John, and back to the album with “Don’t Trust Me Now” and “Done You Wrong.”
“Dark Nights, Dark Mornings” from Endless Time, not only about strange thoughts in the middle of the night but a song emblematic of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, was followed by a Greatful Dead cover “Friend of the Devil”, then a song from their third EP Lost In Love (2017) “What’s the Difference?” and “Wayside/Back in Time” by Gillian Welch.
During the break between sets, the band got to connect with some welcome surprises, friends they haven’t seen in awhile who turned out for the inaugural live music evening.
The second set started out with a song popularized by John Prine, penned by Blaze Foley, “Clay Pigeons” followed by “Tonight I Will Be Staying Here With You” by Bob Dylan.
A string of three songs came in succession from their EPs: “Get Out and Run” from Wild Wind (2014), “Left Unsaid” from the self-titled (2013), and the title song from Wild Wind.
After Chris Robinson’s “Sunday Sound” the band returned to their self-titled EP with the slide guitar-laden “Distant and Mythical.”
Getting into the final stretch, three covers: “Let’s Go” by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, Tom Petty’s “Damaged By Love” and “Wrong Side of the Road” by Shannon McNally. The last four in the run
were bookended by songs from Endless Time: “Out of Control”, “California Bound” from the Wild Wind EP, “All I Have” from Never Looking Back and the title song from the 2021 album.
Americana Highways spoke with Dustin Moran, and was later joined by KR Nelson, of Many Mountains after the show at Long Peak Pub.
American Highways: How have you adjusted to the lockdowns during the pandemic?
Dustin Moran: We did a few livestreams which was different and were fortunate enough to have sporadic in-person shows, outdoor ones where people distanced. Then we worked on a new album and put it out at the beginning of this year. It was a silver lining to be able to step back and then hone in on the record.
AH: I understand you hit the road and that was cut a little short.
DM: We booked some shows we called the Nation of Texas Tour and followed it with two shows in New Orleans where I have family. The lockdowns cut short our last show. At the time when we were driving back, we weren’t sure what was going to happen, if we would be allowed to return home. That was a return trip with a lot of uncertainty.
AH: That definitely sounds like it was a surreal experience. And I read in your Facebook post you had some vision issues before you started back to Colorado which led to a retina reattachment surgery which you’ve recovered from.
DM: It was a very kind of bizarre, transitory year. It involved taking stock of simple things like being able to see and the downtime allowed me to assess how we really felt about our songs.
AH: You primarily play in Colorado. How was that like putting together the tour?
DM: Especially with us, it’s learn as we go and do-it-yourself with a myriad of emails to work out a schedule with the venues. I have an aunt who lives in Austin, so that gave us a familiar stopping point with our travel. We hope to get back to [touring] and broaden the horizon.
AH: What songs stand out for you on Endless Time and what has inspired them?
DM: “What Used to Be” is one. It relates to things going along great and then suddenly the rug gets pulled. That’s certain true with what everybody has dealt with during the pandemic and just how life can go along sometimes. It also has an aspect of looking back on shortcomings and wanting to be a better person. Another favorite is “Dark Nights, Dark Mornings”. Katie did a really great job on that song.
KR Nelson. My favorite is “Out of Control”. That was the final song written for the album during the muckety-mud of the lockdown. It was the idea of how the Universe was out of control. It’s the closest I got to writing a pandemic song.
I also do love the “I-80 Tune”. When we were driving back from Utah, where I have family, we were going down I-80 and with the lyrics, “looking down I-80 tonite, I’m trying to push it further into the setting sun.” It came to me so quickly. There was this stream of consciousness and I immediately got out my book and starting writing and it became fleshed out from that one drive. So it was very vivid to me.
AH: Now you’ve had an indoor show here which is a change.
KN: It’s great to be part of a community where with it being the first live music back since Covid, it’s so nice to be part of that.
Watch Many Mountains’ video here: Video Series: smallsongs: Many Mountains
Hit their website here: http://www.manymountainsmusic.com