A cappella fella
claims to be the only musician who has shared stages with both the traditional folk master Doc Watson and the late rocker Kurt Cobain. And that example of the variety of styles within Eriksen’s musical grip is just the tip of the iceberg.
He is perhaps best known as the lead singer of the “punk folk” band Cordelia’s Dad, which he co-founded in the late 1980s. He also has a degree in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University, has studied the Carnatic music of India, and is an aficionado of New England’s “shape-note” music and of the “sacred harp” four-part harmony tradition of the American South.
Eriksen’s tour schedule includes three evening concerts in New Mexico: Friday, Nov. 12, at the Outpost Performance Space in Albuquerque; Saturday, Nov. 13, at Cowgirl BBQ in Santa Fe; and Sunday, Nov. 14, at The Taos Inn. For these gigs, he teams up with the duo Wild Earl. Its members are violinist and singer Betse Ellis, who is also a longtime member of The Wilders; and Uncle Earl founding member K.C. Groves, who sings and plays mandolin and guitar.
Among Eriksen’s recent projects were a recording and Carnegie Hall concert of The Old Burying Ground, an Evan Chambers composition on which Eriksen worked with the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra and opera singers Anne-Carolyn Bird and Nicholas Phan. Eriksen’s raw, powerful vocals are a memorable addition on jazz pianist/ percussionist Omar Sosa’s 2009 album Across the Divide:
A Tale of Rhythm and Ancestry. His voice rings naked and alone on his latest album, Soul of the January Hills (released in May by Appleseed Recordings). He recorded the album’s 14 songs unaccompanied, in one take.
Pasatiempo spoke with Eriksen by telephone on the first day of November. Pasatiempo: Do you collect folk songs? Tim Eriksen: I do. There’s lots of stuff floating around under the surface that’s really wonderful. I get repertoire from a lot of places, including my own head, but in terms of building my skills as a musician and following my interest, there has been a lot of historical research and traveling and just being