Cary Morin’s Upcoming Album Innocent Allies Takes Inspiration From Famed Western Painter Charles M. Russell

Award-winning “Native Americana” fingerstyle guitarist and Fort Collins area songwriter Cary Morin has made a lasting and lauded career out of his genre-crossing musicianship and deep dives into new cultural influences and music styles, but his upcoming release Innocent Allies brings a whole new medium to the fold.

“This album is a collection of songs inspired by the famous Western painter Charlie Russell and my life in Great Falls, Montana, where Charlie lived and worked,” says Morin who was born in Billings, Montana, in 1962.

“My father was an Assiniboine tribal member from Wolf Point, Montana, and my mother from The Crow Tribe in Lodge Grass, Montana,” he recalls. “Surrounded by music and art as a child, I was also surrounded by my father’s and grandfather, Robert Yellowtail’s, favorite artist and local hero, Charles Marion Russell. His work was everywhere; in our house, in businesses, on the walls of our families’ homes, and at the state capital. As a Montanan, knowing his work was the same as knowing the Montana mountains, rivers, and the big Montana sky.”

Innocent Allies

With Innocent Allies—due for release on January 26, 2024—Morin observes details in Charles M. Russell’s painting from his perspective as a Native Crow and sets them to song. “Situations depicted in his paintings that might not be obvious to some are subtle cultural or ritualistic details,” says Morin, pointing out Russell’s Indian Hunters Return, in which an elder is being served their meal first; a customary gesture in Crow culture.

“As an Indigenous artist, I bring a perspective to this aspect of Charlie’s work by way of this body of songs.” Morin is also quick to note that Charles M. Russell was a friend to the Plains Tribes, concerned with the destruction of Native culture and portraying Native Americans in his paintings with a dignity that was largely absent from other artists’ portrayals of the time. “This record is a masterpiece worthy of its place among the great works of art it was created to honor,” says Trina Shoemaker, the Grammy-winning producer who mixed and mastered the album at her Alabama studio.

Morin shared the first single from Innocent Allies: the impetus for the album itself, “Big Sky Sun Goes Down.” “

This album started with an idea and an armful of CMR art books inherited from my folks,” remembers Morin. “When I finally decided to sit down and write words, I was seated on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River at Rancho Del Rio outside of Bond, Colorado. Reviewing the paintings and hearing the water rushing by, I wrote this first song.”

A sweet, waltzing ode to the Montana countryside, Morin cites Russell’s When The Land Belonged To God, Salute To The Robe Trade, Piegans, In The Enemies Country, and Buffalo Hunt as the paintings that directly influenced “Big Sky Sun Goes Down.” Morin sings the uplifting refrain with conviction: “Beneath us is a song to me / This land is talking to me / I cannot falter now.”

“My father’s house was located between Ulm and Great Falls, Montana, near the site of The Ulm Pishkun Buffalo Jump,” remembers Morin. “The Missouri River was a half-mile walk from there. I could see where our house was built in many of the CMR paintings. It was located just North of the river as I faced Square Butte.”

Fans can watch the music video for “Big Sky Sun Goes Down”—produced by Randy Perkins & Film Locale—at this link and stream or purchase the single here. For more information, please visit

Innocent Allies Tracklist:

Big Sky Sun Goes Down

Waiting and Mad

Waiting for a Chinook

Old Timer’s Poem

Good Medicine

Killing the Blues

Indian Hunters Return

Whiskey Before Breakfast

Big Nose George’s Outlaw Blues

Fire Boat

Bullhead Lodge

Wally and Keeoma

Where the Trails Cross the Big Divide

Montana Sky

Internationally acclaimed as a mesmerizing live performer, Cary Morin’s soul-stirring voice and jaw-dropping fingerstyle guitar playing have captivated audiences for decades. “Cary is a unique and brilliant player, songwriter, and singer. I have huge respect for his style and technique,” says legendary multi-instrumentalist and songwriter David Bromberg. “If you haven’t heard him yet, you should.”

Morin’s career catalog fuses the best of American roots music: blues, folk, soul, bluegrass, and the timeless and distinctive sounds of the rural countryside, from the Western Plains and Rocky Mountains to the rhythmic melting pot of the deep South.

His music has reached millions through prestigious performances at venues like the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center as well as national television and radio programs. He has shared stages with Taj Mahal, Los Lobos, and Bonnie Raitt, among countless others, while earning multiple awards including two Indigenous Music Awards for Best Blues CD. When not performing across the US and Europe, Morin finds inspiration in Northern Colorado, which he proudly calls home.

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