BRECKENRIDGE – When Eric Lindell first landed in New Orleans, he played in dives on the outskirts of town. But this year, he’s performing in the French Quarter Festival and the legendary New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
And, he just won the best emerging performer from Offbeat Music Awards, which honors the greatest musicians of Louisiana as chosen by fellow musicians, music industry professionals and the public.
Lindell grew up as a skate rat in San Francisco. He started playing a bass – using only two of the three strings his instrument had – in middle school. In high school, he played with a band that modeled itself after Sly & the Family Stone because the female vocalist was the daughter of Sly’s drummer.
He delved into the blues after listening to Junior Wells and Buddy Guy and began blending the rock-solid rhythm-and-blues grooves of Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions into his own style.
He moved into his in-laws’ basement in New Orleans in 1999.
While playing gigs on the West bank, he ran into Galactic drummer Stanton Moore. At the time, he hadn’t heard of Galactic, or the Meters, for that matter. He struck up a conversation with the musician, and the two began playing shows together.
Lindell infuses his funky, soul music with thoughtful lyrics and danceable rhythms.
“I write songs in the key of life,” Lindell said.
He won an award in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition in the rhythm-and-blues category in 1999, but his best attribute is his voice – with its strong, bluesy, somewhat rough yet polished sound.
In the last couple of weeks, he has opened for the Neville Brothers, Chuck Berry, Bo Didley and the Meters.
Crawford Byers, who books shows at Sherpa’s, thinks Lindell is on his way to greatness.
“Everyone’s going to be like, ‘Wow, I saw Eric Lindell open for the Motets,'” Crawford said. “The best thing about him is he has a lot of space between the notes he plays. He doesn’t try to fill space like a lot of the jam bands. He’s really tonal. It’s a really beautiful, pure blues sound that he gets.”
Tonight he opens for the Motet at Sherpa & Yeti’s in Breckenridge. The cover charge is $5.
Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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