Agreeing with Eric Henry Anderson
It was a cool fall evening in 2014. I was covering a benefit show featuring several local bands and soloists, some of whom I didn’t know. They all performed Bruce Springsteen songs, and some added their own original.
Towards the end of the evening, four young men took the stage: three in white t-shirts and one in a waistcoat. They erupted through the sound system in a four part a cappella harmony that brought the hall to a halt and caught my full attention on the stage. It was magical.
“Who are these guys?” ” I was thinking. It was my introduction to novelists and Eric Henry Anderson.
A musician from the start
Eric was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1987, and soon after, the family moved about 40 miles away to Oconomowoc where he spent his youth. Both of her parents were great music lovers. Music was playing in their house almost all the time.
Eric’s first opportunity to play music came in his fifth year when music teachers at his school had an “Introductory Music Day”. Their mission was to see who was interested in playing in the orchestra, what instrument they were interested in playing, and who was talented. Wanting to be a little different, Eric opted for the viola, which delighted music teachers as violists were hard to find.
Throughout high school, Eric played the viola in the school orchestra, learning to read music and learning about classics from composers like Beethoven, Chopin, Grieg and many more. Spending a lot of time in the orchestra hall, he always tuned his viola to the piano, and since the piano was there, he gradually learned to play it on his own.
“I had a few piano lessons here and there, but the piano was not something I was trained on.”
– Eric Henry Anderson
When he was 15, Eric attended his first live concert: a Summer Feast with Ben Folds. He became obsessed with Folds music and continues to be a huge fan. He also attended a songwriting retreat with Folds in 2018, and is now slated to be on staff for a Ben Folds virtual writing event later this month. The influence of Ben Folds is clearly evident in Eric’s writing.
A few years later, Eric wrote his first songs that “stuck”.
“The amount of piano, music listening and singing that I was doing was absolutely insane,” he shared. He even skipped classes to play music in the choir room.
After spending his first year of college in Colorado, he transferred to the University of Nevada at Reno in 2008 so that he could also pursue his passion for ski racing while continuing his musical studies.
The launch of a career and a lasting friendship
In 2009 he wrote his first album, produced by his friend and mentor Kostia Efimov. Kostia is a respected pianist and composer from St. Petersburg, Russia, and resided in Milwaukee at the time. He is also a keyboardist in Daryl Stuermer’s group. (For those of you who don’t recognize the name, Daryl Stuermer started playing guitar with Genesis and Phil Collins in 1977.)
Luckily, Daryl was looking for a singer for his band. Kostia recommended Eric for the job and played the new tapes recorded for him. Daryl liked what he heard and agreed to give Eric an audition.
As Eric relates, he was 22, a star struck and nervous. The seats in the theater were empty except for Daryl, his agent and his lighting designer. Eric stood on stage with Daryl’s group with only a microphone. Never having sung as a leader and without an instrument, he was very out of his element, but he did very well and a bond formed between Eric and Daryl.
Since Eric had a CD release gig that week and no guitarists were lined up, he boldly asked Daryl if he would like to play guitar for him, and Daryl agreed. The two developed a strong friendship which continues to this day. They still play together when the opportunity arises. Daryl also performed on some of Eric’s recordings.
In support of this CD, he assembled his first official Eric Anderson Band in Reno. They have traveled extensively in the region. The first show on this tour was the Robin Trower opening in Sacramento.
Around this time, Eric met Joel Ackerson at a Maytan Music Open Mic party. They played well together and Joel ended up playing the mandolin on Eric’s debut album.
Novelists, a concept of Joel, became another way for the two to play together. The group has gone through several personnel changes over the years, released several CDs and videos, and developed a huge success.
Novelists died out during the pandemic, and still are. How much the pandemic played in this decision, I don’t know. I’m sure we haven’t heard from the last of the novelists.
Kissed by a city
A huge development in Eric’s “showbiz” resume was requested by Mayor Hillary Schieve to help produce a city song in response to a challenge from the mayor of Louisville, Kentucky. The challenge was aimed at boosting morale across the country as it entered month six of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eric worked with Beth Macmillan of Artown, Tim Young of the Reno Philharmonic and Washoe County Commissioner Alexis Hill, along with other musicians in the community to create “Heartbeat to Heartbeat, Eye to Eye”. All of the production was produced virtually, and it was seamless. The first and only live performance took place during Artown 2021 at Rancho San Rafael Park. The list of people who made it an amazing project is too long to mention here, but the finished clip says it all.
On this side of the pandemic, Eric has come out big with his new band, The Eric Anderson Band. The main members who join Eric are Zachery Teran, Miguel Jimenez-Cruz, Lucas Arizu and Christopher Sexton. The group performed frequently, from intimate private parties to large outdoor events. In one of the last shows of the season, at the Brewery Arts Center in Carson City, they drew a crowd of over 3,000 people.
I asked Eric if he felt like he had succeeded in his musical career. Creatively he said yes he feels very successful. Not only is the acceptance by an audience satisfying, but he also said he received messages from people telling him that his music helped them when they found themselves in a dark place.
“It’s the most rewarding thing you can experience as a songwriter,” he said. Spiritually, writing songs helps clear his mind and puts him in a healthier state of mind.
“For me, songwriting is almost a musical method of journaling.”
– Eric Henry Anderson
Create your life
Financially speaking, success is still elusive for Eric.
Since streaming has become the most common way for people to enjoy music, the actual sale of CDs or other forms of products has become almost non-existent. Income from the show is pretty much all that most regional musicians can make a living for, and that’s very critical. Have you noticed how many big stars are on tour all the time? They also have to earn a living.
In order to support the artists you love, both so that they are there for all of us in the future and that they can put food on their tables, a new platform called Patreon has been launched there. eight years ago. It is based on a centuries-old concept – and an important part of art history, especially during the Renaissance – where those who could afford it would support artists, philosophers, and scholars.
In the modern version, fans can use Patreon to set up a small, regular donation for their favorite artist or provide support with the release of new material. All participating artists have implemented a system whereby their patrons are rewarded with special benefits as a thank you for their support.
Eric is very optimistic for the future. He has seven new recordings that are nearing completion and he’s working hard to edit a video for Artown’s performance of “Heartbeat to Heartbeat, Eye to Eye”.
I am very optimistic for him too. He’s a very talented singer, songwriter and producer, and he’s surrounded himself with a great group of very talented people. You can visit his website below to follow his activities and keep an eye out for his own Patreon link coming soon.
Nick McCabe is a Reno-based photojournalist and musician. He has been touring the Reno-Tahoe area since 2006 and writing articles and reviews since 2012, as well as occasional interviews. His musical education and playing experience dates back to 1967. He is a founding member of the Reno Tahoe Forte ‘Awards, and he still plays music locally for fun. First concert: Jimi Hendrix. Last concert: we’ll see.