Fusing classic blues and boogie sounds with a hot-wired hard rock attack and a side order of Southern rock attitude, guitarist Chris Colepaugh and his band the Cosmic Crew have won a loyal following the hard way, with a busy schedule of road work as the group made its way through the North American touring circuit. Originally from Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, Colepaugh formed the group in 1996, teaming up with bassist Lynn Daigle and Craig Watson, the first of many drummers who would work with the group. (Watson would also write lyrics for many of Colepaugh's tunes.) Months later, the initial lineup of the group recorded its debut album, 1996's Galaxy, in a single day, as the band began playing steadily in the Maritime provinces in Eastern Canada. After winning a talent contest, Colepaugh and the Crew traveled to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where they recorded 1997's Mazes and Mirrors live in the studio. By this time, Watson had dropped out of the Crew, and Cameron Murphy had signed on as their drummer. In 1998, Murphy left the group, and Colepaugh began using two drummers, Kevin Macintyre and Danny Bourgeois, with the two trading off on live dates depending on availability. The group also briefly introduced a keyboard player to the Cosmic Crew, Andre Leblanc, but he left before the band could start work on 1999's Sixteen Second Solace, which saw the return of Craig Watson on drums.
In 2001, Colepaugh released the album Trip, but while it was credited to him and the Cosmic Crew, he played all the instruments on it himself; for touring, Daigle returned on bass, and Remi Bourque replaced Macintyre in the drumming rotation. That same year, they were finalists on the CBC-TV music competition series The Great Canadian Music Dream, and they continued touring aggressively through Canada and the Eastern United States. The next CC&CC album, 2003's In Time, was also recorded with Colepaugh tackling all instruments, and in 2004 the guitarist left Canada for San Francisco, where he spent several months playing West Coast solo dates and writing new material. Plans for recording the next Cosmic Crew album were scuttled when a health emergency forced Colepaugh to have surgery to remove his gall bladder and he struggled through a long recovery process.
It wasn't until 2006 that Colepaugh was able to complete his next release, In Your Backyard, which he recorded and produced in his own studio, as well as playing all the instruments; the album earned particularly enthusiastic reviews, and boosted Colepaugh's reputation in his native Canada. That same year, Colepaugh also sat in on the sessions for the LP A Cup of Cold Poison by Grady, featuring Gordie Johnson, a friend of Colepaugh who previously led the group Big Sugar. Colepaugh also began working with drummer Shawn Sasyniuk, who along with Danny Bourgeois became one of the Crew's two official drummers. In 2009, Colepaugh, Daigle, and Bourgeois showed off their chops as a stage act on their first live album, Burning. In 2009 Colepaugh was also tapped to play guitar with Roch Voisine, an award-winning singer, songwriter, actor, and radio host, accompanying Voisine on the road in Canada and Europe. Just a year later, Colepaugh emerged from his studio with another album, Missed a Page, which was named Album of the Year at the 2011 East Coast Music Awards. While Colepaugh and his band (who shortened their name from the Cosmic Crew to simply the Crew) stayed busy on the road, he also kept up an active schedule with Voisine and gigged with his side project Juggler's Whole, but Chris Colepaugh & the Crew announced a new album for release in 2016, with the tentative title Stateless. ~ Mark Deming