Back from Hawaii, Cory Mon discovers his way 'North'

Published March 14, 2014 1:44 pm
Local sounds • Veteran folk-rocker rises like phoenix with record release party.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Road to Hana in east Maui is one of the Hawaiian Islands' most spectacular road trips, with 59 bridges — 46 of which are only one lane wide — over 52 miles of rainforest-lined pavement (and plenty of dirt).

There are also 620 curves in those 52 miles. That makes the road quickly intolerable for anyone with a queasy stomach after spending a week eating endless Hawaiian plate lunches. So it prompts an eternal question among vacationers: Do you want to drive the rest of this road, or would you rather turn around and hang out at the beach?

Utah folk-rock veteran Cory Mon is one of the those who took the road less traveled — less traveled when it comes to vacationers who skipped the last 50 miles of the Road to Hana to instead snorkel with the sea turtles on Ka'anapali Beach.

After a soul-draining experience that made him consider quitting music, Mon spent four months in Hana to regroup, reflect and cleanse. He returned to Utah, got married and recorded a new, unabashedly alive record. He will have a record release party at Provo's Velour on Friday, March 14.

Mon talked about his recent experiences in preparation for his resurrection.

What has happened since the release of your last album, "Turncoats"?

We were riding the "Turncoats" train fresh off our mini tour supporting JJ Grey & Mofro and my winning the Telluride Blues & Brews Acoustic Blues Competition. There was a lot of buzz and excitement, opportunities were popping up all over, and to be honest it felt like all my hard work and years of sacrifice for music were paying off. We had formed a great relationship with both the manager and booking agent of the North Mississippi Allstars and were being held in high consideration as support for them for the whole of their summer tour. We were also told by three major festivals that they would find a slot for us should we land the NMA support. And then we were notified that NMA were canceling their tour plans in order to be support for Robert Plant. I was crushed. I had really put all my summer's eggs in the NMA basket. The disappointment was paralyzing, so much so that it truly made me question if music, and all that I had sacrificed for it, was truly worth it. I had to reconsider, well, everything. I had focused too much time and effort on music and the rest of me had truly atrophied.

What did you do?

I was hanging with my friend Kara Henderson and one of my best of pals, Scott Shepard [frontman and songwriter behind the successful Utah band Book on Tape].

Scott had experienced some falling out of his summer music plans and was a bit down as well. Kara was visiting from Hana and simply said, "You both should come live with me in Hawaii, it's good for the soul." And that was that. Who turns down an opportunity to go live in Hawaii rent-free for an undetermined amount of time?

What is Hana like?

Hana is in the rainforest section of Maui, the most remote. It's quiet. People there are family. In Hana there was much healing, much goodness, much discovery. I spent time with good friends. I spent time with myself, in quiet. I made many new friends. I was accepted by a people, a community that loves, gives and supports, regardless of your current standing and reputation in all things life. I saw families work together, live together and change the world they live in together. I desired family, I desired love, I yearned for support but more important, I yearned to support, to be family, to love.

Tell me about your marriage.

I met Mandy years upon years ago, 2008, I believe, at Lake Powell. I fell in love with her in less than one week on a houseboat, we dated, and then we broke it off because I was too selfish and hurt from past scars to really be the kind of guy she deserved. In Hawaii as I balanced myself and listened, I came up with a list of girls that I was interested in pursuing [and] Mandy was tops of the list, and truthfully, was the list. … On July 2, 2013, we were married. Mandy is pure. She inspires happiness. No wonder this album turned out the way it did.

How did the new record come about?

Throughout all of the above, songs kind of manifested themselves. I didn't work to write songs. Sure, I put in a lot of playing time and writing time, but I was listening and feeling and the songs, the time, the writing, were essential parts of my personal life balance. … I was more concerned about having fun and enjoying myself rather than what complications may lie ahead or what might go wrong at any given moment. "North" is about finding that place again. "North" is radness.

What qualities do you like about Velour?

Velour is home, the first legit stage that welcomed me and my music. [Owner] Corey Fox has been a great support both personally and professionally. … I assisted him with tearing out the old and building the new with all things Velour prior to my reacting to the voice telling me to work on music. I've had the opportunity to play Velour's stage again and again. I've judged many of their Battle of the Bands and was privileged to be on the panel that judged what now is one of the more successful bands in the world, Imagine Dragons. I've gotten to know so many of the big acts that have come from the venue on a personal level, such as Dan Reynolds from Imagine Dragons telling me that he used to come to my shows to watch and learn how to perform with passion. —

Cory Mon 'North" release party and show

When • Friday, March 14, at 8 p.m.

Where • Velour, 135 N. University Ave., Provo

Tickets • $8 at 24Tix



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