· CRAIG ERICKSON - Private Times Interview ·


Private Times #12 (Tommy Bolin Foundation) - 2001

Craig Erickson Project
Grooveyard Records

Craig Erickson Shines On New CD

The latest release by Cedar Rapids, Iowa, axeman Craig Erickson couldn't be more aptly titled. "Shine," on New York based Grooveyard Records, is exactly what Craig does on this excellent CD.

He wears his influences on his sleeve, but to great effect. Not in any way contrived or overly imitational, Craig takes cues from his own guitar heroes, and creates something unique and personal with it. His version of Tommy Bolin's "Wild Dogs," with Glenn Hughes singing, is the best example of what I am getting at.

"Bolin fanatic" that I am, this was the main reason that I sought this disc out...and boy, was I happy I did! When "Wild Dogs" came on the disc, I was grooving along to it, humming and enjoying myself, when about midway through I stopped and went, "That's WILD DOGS!" You see, I didn't immediately recognize it. And that's a good thing.

Craig's "Wild Dogs" has Tommy Bolin's moody troubadour feel to it...but it's got a different vibe than I've heard either him or Glenn do previously. It comes in very gently, like the chords are floating in with the breeze on a lazy summer day. After the first two verses and choruses, sung very soulfully and ethereally by Mr. Hughes, Craig slides into a graceful solo, evoking memories of Tommy as well as the bluesmen who inspired Tommy to play guitar. I think Craig is part of this great tradition, bringing the sounds full circle: back to the roots and beyond.

Glenn's vocals on "Wild Dogs" are just too much...more Bowie-ish then I have ever heard him sound before. For anyone who thinks I am nuts to say that, play this new "Wild Dogs" and then play "Can You Feel Me" off of David Bowie's "Young Americans" album. Glenn is becoming the new Thin White Duke!

Back to Craig's influences: For those of you who, like myself, enjoy the thinking man's metal of King's X, check out the melodic grunge blues of "Bus Stop." There's a Frank Marino vibe to "Remember Now" and "Break Free," and on "Angel," Craig does Hendrix with alot more style than Marino ever did.

What exactly is it about Craig's guitar style that impresses me so much? The total package, absolutely. He's got a great tone, and 100% intuitive technical skills. He uses wah-wah without it ever becoming trite or overdone. His sound changes color as the songs progress and develop. In addition to all these attributes, Craig Erickson just plain has SOUL. He breathes life into his songs via his fretboard.

I really do believe in this release and hope that anyone in the music business reading this review takes me to task and decides to check Craig Erickson and the "Shine" CD out. There's at least three hit singles on it from what I hear. Besides "Wild Dogs," I'd also pick "Familiar" and "Remember Now," with Riverdogs vocalist Rob Lamothe's smooth bluesrock singing style, reminiscent of Paul Rodgers or James Dewar.

I had to opportunity to ask Craig about a couple things via email lately, and here is our brief conversation.

SS: Craig, the bandmates that you had along at the last BolinFest (Al Robinson & David Morgan) are only on the first cut of "Shine." How come?

CE: As with Shrapnel releases, sometimes the regular musicians aren't right for the material and the time and cost factor. I played all the bass on my second CD "Retro Blues Express" with Kerri Collings on drums, recorded at her studio. Her husband is Cody. She has been in many band formations since about 1990, toured with Al and I in France, and played on "Force Majeure." Her schedule is busier and less predictable than Dave's so we need someone we can always depend on for gigs. I've been gigging alot with her the last few months when he's not available on late weeknights. So she plays all other drums except on "Wild Dogs" (which is Johnnie Bolin) and I did all guitar, keys, and bass.

SS: How did you get hooked up with Joe Romagnola and Grooveyard Records? In what ways is Joe making "Shine" a bigger and better release for you?

CE: I was introduced to Joe Romagnola through Mike Varney when I was on Shrapnel. He is a major collector of rare video and audio of great guitarists. He sent me many wild compilations for inspiration in exchange for my own live videos and intense home demos. He really believed in my music and thought I deserved to make more intense and deeper CDs than Shrapnel was letting me, and has invested some time and money to make it happen. It's an uphill struggle with the attitudes of the public, record business, and profit-minded distributors, so most sales are through gigs, and internet buzz.

SS: I am intrigued by the close-up photo of your headstock in the CD booklet. Does it say "Vigier Expert"? I am afraid I am unfamiliar with that name/brand. What can you tell us about that?

CE: Vigier is a French guitar/bass company that has endorsers like Roger Glover, Black Sabbath, Stanley Jordan, Shawn Lane, and now Glenn Hughes is playing two of their basses. Glenn was hanging out Mr. Vigier and I at last month's LA NAMM show where he received a new bass. I also have a cool new Les Paul/SG sounding guitar called "The Indus." The people at the company are great and make some awesome guitars. Maybe I will do a show with Glenn at next year's NAMM for Vigier. I also play two PRS's, a Zion, and a Les Paul on occasion. I have a G+L bass and a Korg Keyboard (I also played keyboards on tour with Glenn and Trapeze in about 1994). Thanks for your support Sal.

Thank YOU, Craig !! Keep up the great playing and best wishes always from the Foundation. For more info, please see: http://www.craig-erickson.com http://www.grooveyardrecords.com

---Sal Serio (Private Times #12 - Tommy Bolin Foundation - 2001)