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 Soul of the January Hills through the stripped-down voice and bajo sexto Christmas album Star in the East to the lush, multi-layered arrangements on Josh Billings Voyage, an album of northern roots American music from the imaginary village of Pumpkintown.
Eriksen’s own compositions, which NetRhythms UK described as “strange and original works,” have been featured in films like the Billy Bob Thornton vehicle Chrystal and the upcoming documentaryBehold the Earth. Eriksen’s other notable work has included extensive contributions to Anthony Minghella’s 2004 Oscar-winning film Cold Mountain as well as collaborations ranging from hardcore punk and Bosnian pop to symphony orchestra, duo work with Eliza Carthy and the 2010 Grammy-nominated album Across the Divide with Afro-Cuban world-jazz pianist Omar Sosa. In 2018 his song I Wish The Wars Were All Over was chosen by Joan Baez as her last recorded musical statement, and 2019 saw the release of a duet with Esma Redžepova, “the queen of Romani music and dance.”
The former frontman of the prophetic groups Cordelia’s Dad (folk-noise), Northampton Harmony (shape-note quartet) and Žabe 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. Having graduated from early shows at punk mecca CBGB, Tim’s performances have included his Carnegie Hall debut as a soloist in Even Chambers’ symphonic work “The Old Burying Ground” and two week-long stints at the Blue Note Jazz Club with Omar Sosa. In the studio, he has worked with legendary producers and engineers including Joe Boyd, T-Bone Burnett and Steve Albini.
While Eriksen’s curiosity and passion have led him on many musical journeys besides American roots, all his explorations are linked by the qualities of intensity, directness, and authority which combine in music that captures a truth about human experience and expresses it without apology.