Those words from a Merle Travis classic about one of his guitar mentors, Mose Rager, describes succinctly Cort Armstrong’s lifelong relationship with the guitar. Travis’ heavy thumb-driven finger-style guitar sound plays no small part in Armstrong’s sound, but Armstrong weaves a groove all his own, reflecting many other influences, but which is uniquely his. The dynamic between Armstrong’s voice and his guitar underlie this groove, which draws from the honky tonk sound of George Jones, the country blues of Blind Boy Fuller, the mountain bluegrass of Ralph Stanley, and imagination of Jerry Garcia.
As a man with no musical genre to call his own, Armstrong reaches far and wide for inspiration, carrying the torch of the songster tradition. In this tradition, picking and singing serve the songs, instead of the other way around. Instead of impressing audiences, the songster in Armstrong seeks to move them… laughing, crying and dancing are what it’s all about! You may pick for show, and sing for dough, but when you bring a song to life, you’re good to go!
Writing about Armstrong’s solo collection of original songs, Devon Leger of Hearth Music describes his music as “...that of a true ‘songster’. His music carries influences of country blues, fiddle tunes, square dances, honky-tonks; anything that shook the floors of old mountain grange halls and parties. Every song on his solo CD, Chicken Pickin’, was written by Cort, yet these songs sound as old as the hills that inspired them.”