Then, while furthering his college education in Lexington, Kentucky, Eric stumbled upon JD Crowe & The New South playing a weekly gig at a hotel lounge. This watershed moment led to banjo lessons with Kentucky banjo doctor, Tim Lake, and a full immersion into the bluegrass community picking his time away. His odyssey into bluegrass & old time music sparked childhood memories with Dad of listening to early blues the likes of John Lee Hooker and Lightnin’ Hopkins. In time he married his new found love for the banjo with his lifelong passion for the guitar and taught himself the art of country blues fingerpick’n.
During this time and the years that followed, while sitting in on countless bluegrass jams, Eric discovered his singing voice and with it the means to share his own stories yearning to be told. Stories about work, about love, about family, and the seemingly impossible yet unending need to find room for all three while making ends meet. As a farmer turned stonemason, born to a father who spent years on the line as an auto worker, this struggle has always been alive in his world. While his lyrical content often arises from a dark place there remains an optimistic thread.
Pairing that soulful voice with his country blues guitar Eric uncovered a sound all his own. A sound fed by his long standing and ever growing affinity for American roots music. A sound that stops newcomers in their tracks and compels unsuspecting regulars to look up from their bar stools. Upon discovering his sound listeners are quickly seduced by his raw, genuine character on stage and mesmerized by his masterful fingerpick’n and vocals. While Eric has long received praise from friends and strangers alike for his live performances, he was thrilled and touched beyond words to learn he is the 2016 winner of the John Hartford Memorial Festival Songwriting Competition. To have his craft recognized and admired by his musical contemporaries and other songwriters is incredibly gratifying. In particular this Americana, roots and bluegrass festival holds a special place in his heart as he’s attended the fest several years running with his music lovin’ Papa.
Eric’s love affair with music is that it just feels right when he’s doing it. And after years of letting it take a backseat, he’s ready to do it more. And more. Nothing feeds his spirit like playing live for an audience, sharing that time together with folks and connecting via a medium that continues to shape and define him. Honoring this burning need to share his gift across the globe Eric recently left his hammer and chisel behind to pursue music full time. The tethered mason has taken flight and become The Feathered Mason.
You can also find Eric performing with his roots based ensemble, The Whale Tales, a long suffering quartet consisting of twin brothers Aaron Fanning on drums & Sean Fanning on bass, Josh Desmidt on baritone guitar and lap steel, and Feathered Mason himself on electric guitar & vocals.