Craig Erickson


musical style: 

photograph of Craig Erickson

Born and raised in the Midwestern heartland of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, (which is connected to many highways that lead to Midwestern music meccas such as Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Madison, etc.) Craig has drawn upon the inspiration of wide open spaces, mysterious midnight highway excursions, and the nearby intensity of funky big city life.
Mixing styles and life influences into a stew of blues, rock, funk, jazz, fusion with a distinctive 70's influence akin to Cream, Hendrix, ZZ Top, Trower, Zeppelin, Johnny Winter, Tommy Bolin, Free, Frank Marino, and spicing it up with hints of more recent ingredients such as Govt Mule, Derek Truck, Robert Randolph, King's X, Red Hot Chili Peppers and others. From Robert Johnson to Eric Johnson, Chris Whitley to Shawn Lane, Erickson draws from many sources and his own intense life experience to forge a unique and somewhat addictive and inspirational sound.
His earliest musical influences were found growing up in a home with a jazz guitarist father and piano teacher mother (Craig's sister is a versatile musician as well).
Craig started cornet at age 8 and switched to guitar at 12. Fronting many bands in junior high and high school, composing and recording a vast number of songs on home demos by age 16. He joined a fusion band at age 17 "Cirkus" playing guitar and keyboards.
But, like many struggling musicians trying to make a living, he played in a large number of cover bands, honing his formidable guitar chops in a wild variety of styles including country, jazz, punk, funk, folk, blues/rock, reggae and more.
The mid-80's found him teaching over 40 students a week in styles from SRV Blues to Steve Vai and Van Halen shred.
His dedication and determination lead him to the discerning ears of Mike Varney (the guitar star discovering guru record company head of Shrapnel Records)
Varney had unearthed guitar talents such as Shawn Lane, Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, Greg Howe, Tony McAlpine, Vinnie Moore, Richie Kotzen and others.
He was starting another label with classic players such as Rick Derringer, Leslie West, Pat Travers, etc. And chose Craig as an upcoming modern shredding blues rocker. (a few years before Joe Bonamassa and Kenny Wayne)
Their first collaboration "Roadhouse Stomp" is a modern blues rock classic, featuring killer grooves like "heartbreak train" "overtime" and "the storm"
Erickson had barely finished the record when he was flown back to California to co-write and arrange Glenn Hughes first comeback album "Blues". Glenn had recorded and toured with Deep Purple, Trapeze and Tommy Bolin. Some friends who joined him for his comeback CD included various members of Motley Crue, Great White, Ratt, Poison, The Firm etc.
Craig later joined Glenn for a Trapeze reunion tour in '94, a Tommy Bolin tribute tour in '98 and various recording projects. Glenn has recently collaborated with Chad Smith and other members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Besides recording and touring with Hughes, the 90's found Erickson recording several some CDs for Mike Varney that gained international distribution and European touring opportunities such as the "Salon De La Musique" in Paris where he shared the bill with Shawn Lane, Doug Aldrich, Jan Cyrka, The Hellecasters, Michael Lee Firkins and many more.
After a dark time of personal issues in the late 90s, Erickson returned to the scene in 2001 with the triumphant minor masterpiece "Shine" on Grooveyard records. "Shine" began an association between Craig and the legendary rock soul vocalist "Rob Lamothe" their transcendent version of Hendrix's "Angel" is worth the price of the CD and shows a deep melodic sense in his music.
Craig and Rob traveled twice to Europe for "shine" tours and followed with a recording session in Canada resulting in a raw, funky, soulful record called "ride" for Dutch label Mascot/Provogue.
That record was followed up with his first ever full length instrumental fusion CD for Mike Varney's "Tone Center" label. On "Cosmic Farm" Craig was joined by an all-star cast of jam band performers including drum genius Jeff Sipe, (Shawn Lane, ARV, Susan Tedeschi, Phil Lesh, Trey Anastasio), bass guru Rob Wasserman, (Rat Dog, Rickie Lee Jones, Lou Reed, Banyan) and keyboardist extraordinaire T Lavitz, (the Dregs, Jazz is Dead, Widespread Panic) and others.
Though Craig was again humbled in the presence of such brilliant and legendary performers he found the faith and inspiration to pursue the project, composing all the CD's songs in short order and flying to San Francisco to jam with the other "cosmic farmers" on the deep funky, grooves and melodic riffs.
2005 reunited Erickson and Sipe for a heartfelt tribute to guitar genius Shawn Lane in Memphis. They filmed samples of that and NAMM show/Tone Merchants performances with bassist John Avila (Oingo Boingo), and drummer Tony Austin (Solomon Burke) show another side of Craig that doesn't always make it to record.. the jamming, creative free-flowing on the edge playing style that totally relies on the soul and passion of the musical moment.
The latest recording "Big Highway" goes full circle back to "Roadhouse Stomp" with barn burner blues rock grooves, blistering licks, melodic slow blues and the songs cover classic blues themes of heartbreak, loneliness, pain, highways, trains country nights, city streets... and a spiritual longing and hope...
When he plays and sings these songs, you get the feeling that he's seen and been through some amazing and intense things... and it ain't over yet.
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Gear used by Craig Erickson

Craig Erickson electric guitars

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