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Cahalen Morrison and Eli West Duo
Calahen Morrison, Eli West
According to Calahen, he lies “somewhere in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle of bluegrass, old-time, and folk music”, and sounding something like “the laid-back playing you might have heard at Mississippi John Hurt’s fabled community BBQs back in the 1950s, with maybe a guest visit from Doc Watson”. As well as working as a solo artist, he also performs in a duet with talented multi-instrumentalist Eli West, and has performed for BAMM in both a solo and duet capacity.
This fruitful creative partnership with Eli is a major part of Calahen’s present musical tapestry – the duet is constantly touring on a worldwide basis, and have released the highly acclaimed album ‘The Holy Coming Of The Storm’ together. It sounds like its been a fascinating and rewarding working partnership, which will continue for some time. “We've made huge strides,” he says, “just learning how to work with each other, and learning to read what the other person is going to do, musically. We have been playing some great festivals, and doing some great tours, like Pickathon, Sisters Folk Festival, Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival, and tours across the US, Canada and Europe.” It’s not all roses and sunshine, though, and the tried-and-tested artistic struggle has been present and correct too. “We have had our fair share of total, make-you-want-to-quit-music-forever-and-ever shows too.”
Any bad memories must be swept aside by the critical acclaim Calahen and Eli have been receiving, though. Legendary BBC Radio DJ and presenter Bob Harris has referred to them as ‘quite extraordinary’, while Tim O’Brien has boldly stated that “Cahalan and Eli are making music that the world needs.”
With such a niche sound, Calahen’s music – either his solo or duet efforts – seems to stand alone, timeless and detached, a scratchy-vinyl capsule from a different era. As such, surely he must be lacking in contemporaries, or the sort of ‘scene’ which some artists like to attach themselves to? “In the kind of scene we're in right now,” he reflects, “it seems to be folks like Crooked Still, who barely fit into the traditional categories, but get away with a lot of liberties and do both music from the general bluegrass and old-time catalogs, while also playing traditional music. And to be honest, there really doesn't seem to be that many folks doing it. Not to say that we are getting away with it, but, that's what we're shooting for!”
Here’s hoping Calahen keeps on shooting – either by himself or with a trusty, Eli-shaped marksman by his side!
The BAMM Questionnaire
What would be your dream gig/venue?
Playing at Telluride would be up there, for sure. Just being in that canyon is pretty remarkable. But, there are a surprising amount of phenomenal venues all around the world that would be alright too!
What event would prove to yourself that you've "made it"?
Ohhh, I don't think that's how that works, unfortunately.
Who’s a hero of yours?
Fair to say that we both are pretty big Tim O'Brien fans.
Drink of choice?
If you had to make a pretty girl/guy laugh, what's your joke?
The girl: What do an elephant and a grape have in common? They're both purple, except for the elephant. The guy: I'll send that in a different email.
We had a killer time at BAMM! Great people, more organized than almost any video or radio stuff we've done, and the material came out beautifully! It has been really helpful for us, on the promotional side of things.