Arts Council of Tamworth is excited to bring wildly talented singer, multi-instrumentalist and ethnomusicologist Tim Eriksen—“one of the best voices in music,” says T Bone Burnett—to Tamworth for a two-day artist residency. The residency will conclude with a performance by The Trio de Pumpkintown on Friday, June 5, 2015, at 7:30 PM at The Barnstormers Theatre in Tamworth. The Trio celebrates the songs of a fictional New England village in fresh, acoustic arrangements. Much of their music comes from the 18th and 19th centuries: love songs, murder ballads, songs of travel on the high seas, rollicking Afro-Celtic sing-alongs, music of local Francophone and Scottish communities and shape-note harmony. In addition to their traditional New England repertoire, the Trio also plays their own original music, songs by late 20th and early 21st century local P’town bands and music drawn from their contact with more recent immigrants to the area. Tickets are available at artstamworth.org and at the door. Choose Your Own Ticket Price, $5 to $30 for adults, $0 to $5 for youth to 18. Ticket revenues help support free workshops and diverse performances in school and community—please invite your friends!
“Widely regarded as the best traditional American ballad singer of his generation,” according to BBC Radio, Tim Eriksen is acclaimed for transforming American tradition with his startling interpretations of old ballads, love songs, shape-note gospel and dance tunes from New England and Southern Appalachia. He combines hair-raising vocals with inventive accompaniment on banjo, fiddle, guitar and bajo sexto—a twelve string Mexican acoustic bass—creating a distinctive hardcore Americana sound that ranges from the bare bones of solo unaccompanied singing on his album Soul of the January Hills to the lush, multi-layered arrangements on Josh Billings Voyage, the new album of northern roots American music from the imaginary village of Pumpkintown.
The former frontman of the prophetic groups Cordelia’s Dad (folk-noise), Northampton Harmony (shape-note quartet) and Zabe i Babe (Bosnian folk and pop), Tim Eriksen is the only musician to have shared the stage with both Kurt Cobain and Doc Watson, and his media appearances have ranged from Prairie Home Companion to the Academy Awards. Tim Eriksen’s work as an ethnomusicologist and teacher has included extensive research on shape-note music in New England and the venerable Sacred Harp four-part harmony tradition—he served as on-set music advisor for the movie Cold Mountain, and sang several of the songs on the soundtrack. While Eriksen’s curiosity and passion have led him on many musical journeys besides American roots—from punk rock and shape-note gospel through South Indian classical music (he plays the veena!) and Bosnian pop to world jazz and contemporary symphonic music—all his explorations are linked by the qualities of intensity, directness, and authority which combine in a music that captures a truth about human experience and expresses it without apology.
Arts Council of Tamworth will also offer a free community workshop, “Sing with Tim Eriksen: Ballads and Shape-Note” on Thursday, June 4, from 6:30-8:30 PM at The Tamworth Lyceum in Tamworth. Come explore these traditional American forms of several-part harmony singing with a master teacher. All are welcome; no experience necessary. Donations appreciated. Refreshments are available for purchase from the Lyceum. Eriksen will also be in residency at K. A. Brett on June 4 and 5; interested homeschoolers are welcome to participate. Contact the school at 603-323-7271 for the schedule. The in-school residency will culminate in a mini-performance/group sing/rehearsal at 2:00 on Friday. Community members are welcome to attend.
Tim Eriksen’s residency is supported by generous business sponsors The Other Store, Cooper Cargill Chant, and White Mountain Oil & Propane, and is funded in part by the New England States Touring program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the six New England state arts agencies, with support from the K. A. Brett School, The Tamworth Foundation, the Tamworth PTA, The Yeoman’s Fund, and from media sponsors The Conway Daily Sun, 93.5 WMWV and Magic104FM. Tamworth Caregivers can provide rides to performances and workshops for those otherwise unable to attend; contact them at 603-323-7697. Tickets, and lots of video: artstamworth.org, 603-323-0104.