Moors & McCumber return to Steve’s on Friday

Moors & McCumber will perform at Steve's Guitars on Friday starting at 8:30 p.m.

If you go...

What: Moors & McCumber

When: Friday, 8:30 p.m.

Where: Steve’s Guitars, 19 N. Fourth St., Carbondale

Tickets: At the door

When James Moors began playing one of his original songs in 2005 at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Song School in Lyons, Kort McCumber couldn’t resist joining in on bouzouki and harmony vocals.

Afterward, the two young musicians introduced themselves to each other and decided to try performing together. They had each been pursuing solo careers, but their collaboration went so well they began inviting each other to perform at their solo gigs.

“You can play with so many different people, but when you find somebody you really click with and your voices blend in that perfect way, you know the universe is telling you something,” McCumber said. “Right away we realized that our voices meshed so well together, it was almost like from another mother, we had sibling harmonies right away. You don’t get that very often outside of family.”

Moors & McCumber returns to play at Steve’s Guitars this Friday night starting at 8:30 p.m. It will be the “sixth or seventh” time the duo has played the intimate Carbondale venue since 2012.

Both Moors and McCumber continued their solo careers for several years after their initial collaboration, but following a musical/sightseeing tour of Ireland in 2011, they decided to commit more to performing together.

“When we came back from that we said ‘we should really make the duo our No. 1 priority,” McCumber said. “We started to realize we did have some great camaraderie together and built a friendship that makes all the touring possible.

“I’ve played with a lot of other musicians in my career and it’s easy to get along with everyone onstage, but offstage you have to put up with somebody, and we realized that our friendship has really driven the duo.”

Since making the decision to join forces, McCumber said the duo’s sound has evolved through their collaboration.

“James is the main lyricist of the duo, and it helps that we have opposite strengths. My strengths are harmony and arrangements,” he said. “What it’s evolved into is that, even if he feels like he’s got a song finished, he always runs it by me, because if we put it through that Moors & McCumber filter, it always ends up making the song a little better.”

The “Moors & McCumber sound,” he said, incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, and more recently of Irish music.

“We’ve probably done over 20 tours of Ireland,” McCumber said. “We do four 10-day trips a year over to Ireland.”

The duo weren’t playing Irish music at all when they first started performing together, but once they traveled to the Emerald Isle and immersed themselves in its traditional music, it inspired them to blend some of it into their own sound, McCumber said. And that sound has been well received by Irish audiences.

“It was a mutual admiration — we loved what they did and were incorporating it into our music, and they just wanted to hear our Americana music and harmonies, because they don’t get that much over there,” he said. “They have phenomenal virtuoso instrumentalists, and great singers, too, but they’re not so harmony driven.”

At Steve’s on Friday, expect to hear a Moors & McCumber sound built around harmonies, multiple instruments, and many memorable original songs.

“People tell us ‘every time I hear you guys I have one of your songs stuck in my head for weeks,’ and we’re like ‘sorry, not sorry.’”

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