Curley Fletcher’s first memory was of cattle He was born in San Francisco in 1892, but his family shifted east to California’s Owens Valley and the cowtown of Bishop. Nestled in the lands charted by Kit Carson and Jedediah Smith, Bishop supplied the prospectors in the Sierra Nevada, left a romantic mark on Samuel Clemens, and made a cowboy out of Curley Fletcher. The Los Angeles Aqueduct was completed in 1913 under the ruse of modern irrigation, and it devasted the Owens Valley. Farmers and ranchers were forced out, the cowhands scattered with the dust. Some headed north, others south. Curley headed for Hollywood and began teaching actors in rouge and powder how to rope and wrangle. He was also a poet and in 1915 published “The Strawberry Roan” in a forgotten little collection called Ballads of The Badlands. Curley Fletcher’s poems found music, became songs. The earliest Singing Cowboys were made in his image. “The Strawberry Roan” was the first song Corb Lund learned to sing.
The Great Western Trail stretched from Southern Texas up through the thick of the United States to deliver herds of longhorn cattle and Corb Lund’s ancestors to the plains of Alberta, Canada. Four generations ranched in and around Taber, Alberta before Corby Clark Marinus Lund arrived in 1969. His first memory was also of cattle. Corb grew up in the saddle, learned the cowboy songs of his grandfathers, his great-grandfathers. He sang to the cattle spread across the dark green of Western Canada. When it came time to leave (as it always does), Corb decided to pursue music. He studied jazz in college. He started a metal band called The Smalls in 1989. The Smalls were one of the most successful independent bands to come out of Alberta. For over a decade they thrashed across Canada and into areas most outfits dared to tread. The Smalls called it quits in 2001, and when it came time to leave (as it always does), the Corb Lund Band was already champin’ at the bit.
The Corb Lund Band began as an alt-country side project in 1995 and a Canadian release, Modern Pain, followed directly. Another album, Unforgiving Mistress, arrived in 1999. In 2002 the band released Five Dollar Bill, and Canada started taking notice. Corb Lund was writing from his roots, the cowboy poet reborn. He could hole up in a cabin in the mountains and come down with tales of horses, and roughnecks, gamblers and guns. “Truth Comes Out” from the album Hair in My Eyes Like a Highland Steer is as dark a piece of prophecy as anything from the Revelation to John. Conversely, the hilariously true “The Truck Got Stuck Talkin’ Blues” gets pitched as a moment of true fellowship in the mud. Corb Lund and The Hurtin’ Albertans signed with New West Records in 2009. They’ve been featured in films (Slither, Nine Winters Old), and in 2014 they were part of a CMT Canada documentary on Sun Records that resulted in the album Counterfeit Blues. Recording at 706 Union in Memphis is cool, but perhaps, the coolest of all are the comic books based on his songs, Corb Lund’s Western Tales by Bob Prodor
Lund’s Things That Can’t Be Undone was produced by Dave Cobb and marks The Hurtin’ Albertan’s ninth album. Corb was featured as one of Rolling Stone’s “Ten New Country Artists You Need To Know” in 2015– despite the fact that he’d been touring the world and releasing country & western records for twenty years (and had a comic book written about him). Lately, Corb’s been hitting the road solo with a storyteller-style show filled with his trademark observational humor and Canadian charm. He’s a son of the west, a poet cut from the same canvas as Curley Fletcher. May he always have cows around.