The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum kicks off its 35th season of Wednesday Folk Traditions on June 8, 2016 with the Tim Eriksen Trio, a hardcore Americana group focused on transforming American folk music tradition with modern interpretations of old ballads, love songs, and dance tunes. Ethnomusicologist, experimentalist, and leader of the “shape-note” tradition, Tim Eriksen performs modern interpretations of traditional folk songs from the Pioneer Valley and beyond. Eriksen combines chilling vocals with instrumental accompaniment on electric guitar, banjo, fiddle, and bajo sexto - a twelve string Mexican acoustic bass.
The resulting hardcore Americana sound is influenced by ballads, love songs, gospel, and dance tunes from New England and Southern Appalachia. Eriksen's musical journey has included work in many genres, including punk rock, shape-note gospel, South Indian classical music, Bosnian pop, world jazz, and contemporary symphonic music. He has performed on Prairie Home Companion and the Academy Awards, and he has contributed to the soundtrack of films such as Behold the Earth, Chrystal, and Cold Mountain. Kit Bailey for BBC Radio refers to Eriksen as “the best traditional American ballad singer of his generation.”
For his June 8 performance at Wednesday Folk Traditions, Eriksen will be joined by Zoë Darrow and Peter Irvine. Eriksen, Darrow, and Irvine previously worked together on the album "Josh Billings Voyage," under the name Trio de Pumpkintown. Much of the music that Eriksen, Darrow, and Irvine perform together comes from eighteenth and nineteenth century love songs, murder ballads, songs of travel on the high seas, and Afro-Celtic sing-alongs. Stirrings Magazine writes that Eriksen has "the technique, the feel, to make these songs live for us as vividly as they live for him."