Cory Coffman on his expansion to solo work: Canvas and Color

Cory Coffman has been playing music in Duluth since he was a kid – from grade school punk rock, to drumming all over town, to Cuckoo Bees and onto his recent solo release Canvas and Color.

Cory is a multi-instrumentalist with a penchant for clever lyrics and surprising use of xylophone. His musical style runs the gamut – folk, jazz, singer-songwriter, marimba and more. As he says, there isn’t a genre he doesn’t like. He went to school for music; he’s been playing for a long time. He’s transitioned from drummer to front man; he’s put in his 10,000 hours and he’s ready to launch.

His first solo release showcases several styles built upon a theme of hopeful beginnings and nostalgic pasts. I swear I heard his title track (Canvas and Color) in the backseat of my dad’s car on road trip; the familiarity pulled me right into the album. It’s a nod to rock ‘n roll’s early days when it was one part country, one part jazz, one part new. But actually Cory wrote the song when he was best man at his best friend’s wedding and decided to write them a song for the first dance. That’s the kind of heart you’ll find in his music.

Marigolds on Monday is the most recent song on the album; it is an ode to his grandfather who passed away in early 2020. It wasn’t COVID-related but the memorial was impacted by COVID restrictions. He was close with his grandfather, a former marine who just got on with things – like driving Cory, his brother and the rest of the neighborhood boys to hockey games.  While Great Dane is a song about a childhood friend who he has lost. He was the “first to get his license so they all piled into the car.” It’s that tiny detail that again makes a song to familiar or relevant to the listener.

His music is about real stories. Even when they are sad, they’ll make you smile because it’s the sadness of losing something or someone you loved, which is really about growing up, which for better or for worse, we’re all doing. As a bonus, be sure to check out Cory’s videos, which he creates with partner Alyssa Johnson. Apparently Canvas and Color took a week to complete – but it is worth it!

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