McKinnon releases new CD |

McKinnon releases new CD

Randall McKinnon has always considered himself an entertainer, rather than a musician, but in his first studio release, “Where Rivers Change Direction,” he took all the care and attention to detail that any professional musician would to create a quality recording.

The CD is a collection of 15 of McKinnon’s favorite songs that delve into the heart of High Country living, from such writers as Guy Clark, Fred Eaglesmith, Steve Earle and Ray Wylie Hubbard.

“They’re all songs I’ve collected through the years that have a good mountain feel to them,” McKinnon said. “They all hang together … and they’re all songs I care about.”

But they’re not mainstream songs; even in their heyday, they didn’t get much FM radio play. McKinnon discovered them through more than two decades of attending music festivals, concerts and rubbing elbows with songwriters.

Though he’s been making a living as a guitar player and singer in Summit County for over 20 years, he’s never felt called to pen his own songs. Instead, he prefers to breathe life into others’ writing.

“They’re kind of obscure songs I can help show the light of day to, and that’s as much of a sacred trust as being able to write the songs themselves,” he said.

McKinnon has always had a depth of soul, which emerges in public. He originally began touching audiences as a Southern church minister and social worker. He sees those helping professions and entertaining in a similar vein: They’re all about helping people lighten up and enjoy life.

These days, he performs at dinner sleigh rides five days a night in the winter (he’s been at Keystone’s sleigh ride for 21 years), plays at the Blue Spruce Inn every Friday night – 52 weeks a year – and fills in gaps with corporate events, farmers’ markets and dude ranch gigs.

McKinnon honed his crowd-pleasing skills playing apres ski shows, where people expect to participate in the show.

“He’s good with the crowd,” said Mike Fauth, a longtime friend who has performed often with McKinnon. “He knows how to talk to people. He gets everyone involved. He’s played in different venues, from rowdy, rock, biker bars to family venues.”

Fauth helped him with the recording, along with Mike Music, who McKinnon plays with regularly, and Katie Glassman, who McKinnon calls “an outstanding fiddle player and a great human being. The beauty of her playing is featured (on the recording) just about as much as my voice.”

And as for McKinnon’s voice, it’s warm, rich and inviting, drawing listeners into a full experience of an American West characterized by heroes, outlaws, lover and loners.

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