Boris McCutcheon lives off the grid in northern New Mexico, on the High Road to Taos, writing when he can catch a break from pruning fruit trees, chopping cords of wood, and managing the local acequia.
McCutcheon has been awarded and honored for his songwriting. He was the Southwest Regional winner of the Mountain Stage NewSong contest in 2008, and a Regional finalist in 2011. He won the 2004 Boston Music Award for best male vocalist, and the New Mexico State Fair’s best singer/songwriter category in 2007. Music critic and pop culture writer Steve Almond wrote a chapter on Boris in his 2010 Random House book, “Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life”. Boris’ six albums, including the newest “Wheel of Life“ (2011) have each been European chart-toppers.
In 2011, he and his band the Salt Licks performed at the Blue Highways festival in Utrecht in the spring, and they played at the Moab Folk Festival in the fall. In early 2012, Boris was a Performance Alley showcase performer at the Folk Alliance conference in Memphis. This is his first appearance at SXSW.
The Salt Licks are: Boris’s longtime collaborator Brett Davis on guitar, tenor banjo, lap steel guitar, duct tape and harmony vocals (think of Steve Cropper as a desert rat); Susan Hyde Holmes (known affectionately as “Thunderhoof”) on bass and harmony vocals; and the ever-loving Paul Groetzinger on drums and cymbals.
Boris writes genre-bending roots tunes, grabs you by the scruff of the neck and gives a kick to your soul. Based in the country idiom, with a healthy mix of waltzes and two-steps to move your feet to, Boris’ songs are rocking, sultry, funny, dark, and poetic.
“The essential chaos, the human nexus of it, was Boris himself, Boris of the broken trucks and disconnected phones, of the lost capos, of the songs scrawled feverishly on the backs of receipts smeared with motor oil and stashed in the tackle box with his harmonicas,” writes Steve Almond.
Other reviewers call McCutcheon a “writer of “unhurried ballads and twangy hits with a railyard twist.” His take on things has been called: “full of wonderment, slightly ominous, introspective genius. “
If you haven’t had the chance to check out Boris’ music, do yourselves a favor and come hear what another critic recently cracked: “Steve Earle meets Captain Beefheart, with a bit of Johnny Appleseed thrown in.”