When Cory McDaniel says "Life keeps me busy," that's an understatement. When he's not being a singer, songwriter, and soloist, he and his longtime bassist and friend Dale Bohren are playing with one of three bands, all of which "keep me traveling and surrounded by good and talented people."

It's been a long trip--including a five-year stint in Alaska--since a 17-year-old young McDaniel used a fake ID to play blues at gigs in his home state of Colorado. His first musical inspiration was the Big Band LPs his parents played at home. Then, fortuitously, while playing clubs he was exposed to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Further influences on his songwriting and arranging were Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Oingo Boingo's Danny Elfman, Tom Waits, and Leonard Cohen.

Even a quick overview of McDaniel's playing and touring since then--which critics have described as "incorporating unusual instrumentation into their blues-like, jazz-like repertoire"--covers a lot of ground. Among the unlikely mixes of instrumentation are live recordings with five French horns for accompaniment, a concert at the NCHS Guitar Ensemble with more than 30 acoustic guitarists, and a project known as the K.C. Sympathy Orchestra.

Teenage McDaniel's first gig with professional players segued into  a group named Butterfat that ended up in Seattle opening for acts such as The Youngbloods, Jesse Young, and Janis Joplin. Next came the "infamous" Earthquakes and the Tremors, two bands that, as McDaniel puts it, "rocked, shocked, and entertained most of the West Coast until the arrests were made."

In 2005 he was invited to Germany as a soloist for the Mettmann Blues Festival, a series described by its promoter as "sensationally good." On returning to the U.S. he rejoined with Dale Bohren to form the central duo of The Tremors, sometimes described as "Wyoming's Only Two-Piece Trio."

A northwest visit came to reunite old band members from their Seattle concerts, and they've since recorded their first CD in Wyoming and played to support the12-24 Club's 2009 Recovery Rally.

Through it all, McDaniel says his career and the various configurations of bands have hewed to the same motto: "If you ain't havin' fun, you ain't havin' nothing at all!"

And whenever McDaniel needs a dose of affirmation these days, he only has to look in a mirror: "Life is good," he says. "It says so on my shirt."