Singer-songwriter Kort McCumber plays at 10 p.m. Saturday at Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill.

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Singer-songwriter Kort McCumber plays at 10 p.m. Saturday at Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill.

Kort McCumber keeps Americana sound fresh with varied styles

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"Pay the Fiddler" by Kort McCumber

If you go

What: Kort McCumber, Americana

When: 10 p.m. Saturday

Where: Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill, 435 Lincoln Ave.

Cost: $5

Call: 879-3773

Listen: Songs from McCumber's most recent release, "Ain't The Same As Before," are online at his My Space site.

— Kort McCumber grew up playing classical music, learning piano at age 5 and adding cello at 8.

He didn't pick up a guitar until halfway through college; since then, he's been collecting string-instrument ability as he goes. The singer-songwriter out of Gold Hill - in Boulder County, northwest of Boulder and east of Ward - plays at 10 p.m. Saturday at Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill.

On McCumber's seventh record - "Ain't The Same As Before" came out this summer - he plays acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, banjo and the bouzouki, a Mediterranean stringed instrument. He's also been known to play bass, piano and dobro, among other things.

The range of instruments and musicians McCumber worked with on "Ain't the Same" drove its sound away from the alternative country that characterized his previous release, "Lickskillet Road." The new record leans toward a more rocking, bluesy sound, McCumber said.

"It's still me doing my thing, but it's : a slight transition," he said. Original material can include elements of rock, blues, Irish music, bluegrass and country - all of which come together in a thing called Americana, he said.

"It's kind of the outskirts and the underground; it's not really mainstream," McCumber said about Americana music. "It's not so blatant. : It's like it's borrowing a little bit from all the different genres."

McCumber chooses song styles based on the song itself, he said. One tune might call him to put down the fiddle and pick up an electric guitar, and the next might require a more laidback, alternative country feel.

"I do first and foremost consider myself a singer-songwriter, so a lot of times it's how the song reveals itself" that determines its musical style, he said.

What McCumber is listening to at the time, band members and writing partners also can make a difference, he said.

The resulting wide range of styles allows for a dynamic live show, McCumber said. An upright bassist and a percussionist will play with McCumber on Saturday at Mahogany.

"Live, it definitely takes you on a good journey," he said. "With drums, upright bass and me, it's kind of a beautiful combination because we can do some more of the acoustic stuff, but also if I pick up an electric guitar we can do some of the newer stuff."

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