Erik Nordstrom is looking to showcase the best of the region’s musical community.
The local musician, who plays guitar and sings in rock bands Lawn Chair Kings and Farmington Hill, has always been a die-hard supporter of the local music scene, support that comes in the form of booking and playing shows for his own bands; encouraging up-and-coming musicians in the development of their own musical projects; or playing in informal picking sessions at parties or festivals. Nordstrom is a dude with a punk-rock, do-it-yourself mindset whose taste varies from cow-punk to prog-rock and The Ants to Frank Zappa, a guy who wants to bring out the best in local music.
Aside from his own bands, he’s also spearheading the “Erik & Friends” series in Montezuma County, where Nordstrom plays with one other local musician, with shows alternating between Fenceline Cider and Mancos Brewery. Started in June 2018, to date, the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants shows have featured Nordstrom alongside 10 different musicians, the latest happening Sunday at Fenceline Cider, where Nordstrom will take the stage with banjo player Hap Purcell.
“I started the series as a way to feature a folksy, improvisational approach to performance with a bit of rehearsal, as we typically practice only once. I also thought it would be a great opportunity to play with a variety of area musicians,” Nordstrom said. “It has definitely pushed me as a musician, and I enjoy the loose format. It seems that my guests and I are often smiling during these Sunday afternoon performances, and the crowd has been appreciative and tolerant of the inevitable mistakes.”
Unlike most of Nordstrom’s past musical partners in this series, Purcell is Lawn Chair Kings alumnus, so the two have a history of playing together, albeit in a rock band setting, where Purcell’s banjo and Nordstrom’s guitar were backed by a rhythm section. A river trip in spring 2019 found the two picking in a party setting, inspiring Nordstrom to recruit him for this performance; Purcell was down for the challenge and the opportunity to push his own musical abilities with some Nordstrom originals.
“There was a moment when Hap and I played along the banks of the river, and it was truly magical,” Nordstrom said. “We know a lot of songs together. Hap is a bad-ass banjo player, and I like the mix of acoustic guitar and banjo.”
“We had such a wonderful time playing all these great songs that we had played through the years. The sound was stripped down, but it still had a fullness with a lot of energy, so we decided spot on that this was something that we wanted to do,” Purcell said. “Some of his songs have unusual chord progressions that took me a little while to remember, and then there are some songs no one has ever heard that have to be fleshed out from scratch.”
Many musical scenes are loaded with militant players unwilling to stray into other neighborhoods; busting out a Van Halen or Meat Puppets tune in a campground pick, and you sadly could be heckled. But Nordstrom is a punk-dude who likes the rock ’n’ roll while dipping his toes into folk-waters; this is all a chance for Nordstrom to take an adventurous approach to acoustic music while knocking off a wish list of people to play with.
“I’m a fan of the folk scene. I’m a regular at the Pagosa festivals and have had the folk-bluegrass bug ever since I was a college kid in Kansas. The Erik & Friends series allows me to express my folksy side with a touch of rehearsal,” Nordstrom said. “In the spirit of the folk tradition, I’m often winging it and never quite know what’s around the corner.”
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.