Eric Lindell doesn't like to stick to just one genre of music, preferring instead to draw from the whole spectrum of blues, R&B, and rock. He has become a staple of the New Orleans music scene over the last ten years, and is often regarded as one of the city's best singer/songwriters. Though he has released quite a few albums over the years, he still thinks of himself first and foremost as a live musician.
"I like working in the studio, but anything we do in the studio is pretty much live. We go in, we record it and we might add a little to it like maybe another sax part or baritone or something. But we definitely pride ourselves on being a live band."
By his own recollection, Lindell plays over a hundred shows a year. Considering the fact that he's been playing the majority of those shows in a city known for being a bit rowdy, one wonders if there's any crazy crowd or equipment mishap that he hasn't yet experienced.
"At this point nothing really surprises me," Lindell said. "But you know, there's always something. You'd be amazed at the stuff you come across in this business. Some of the things you've encountered on the road over the years...you can't even write this stuff! I thought it would be a cool idea at some point to make a documentary-type film and interview all these different musicians and hear their stories from the road and experiences."
Lindell said that, like most kids, he grew up listening to what his parents listened to. It wasn't until he got older that he fell in love with the kind of music he would later make a career out of playing.
"When I first started really playing with bands around 15, I started digging into the older stuff...bands like Fishbone. That was one of the early bands and I liked that they covered a lot of ground. They didn't just do this one thing. I think that's something that always stuck with me. It can all be American roots music. Blues, country, R&B, whatever, for me, the line is kinda blurred," he laughed.
Lindell loves jamming with musicians who can bring a unique instrument into the fray, like the akonting, which is essentially a banjo-like instrument from Africa made from a gourd and some strings. This open approach to music has resulted in some interesting performances over the years.
"We had a hundred-year-old man come play with us in New York on the penny whistle...he's a sax player. An old jazz guy...and he's definitely the oldest musician I've ever stood next to onstage. We thought he was going to play sax and then he pulls out this little penny whistle instead," Lindell said.
Though he has become associated with the city of New Orleans, Lindell is actually from San Mateo, California. In fact, after their upcoming show at Tipitina's on Saturday, Nov. 24, in New Orleans, Lindell and his band are headed off for a tour on the West Coast. Being a California native, one would think this tour would be like coming home.
"I would say New Orleans feels more like home," Lindell said. "I mean, my kids are here, and everything's here. But I do get to see some friends out there, so it's kinda both I guess. I always look forward to getting out there."
Along with the tour, Lindell has something new on the horizon for fans--a new band called the Sunliners with bluesman Anson Funderburgh. Comprised mostly of country songs, their new album is a change of pace for Lindell. It's also a dream project for him.
"I'd been talking about it forever," Lindell said. "Most of my records I've slipped some kind of Buck Owens song or some country song in there, but with my own feel on it. But I had this idea to record a whole album of that, and I'd been working with Anson a bunch and he wanted to be a part of it. It was a project that I'd wanted to produce for a while and I handpicked all the people that played on it."
Over the years, Lindell's musical creativity has served him well. Some of his songs have appeared on TV shows like "Boston Legal" and "True Blood" bringing his music to an even wider crowd. When asked if he liked to tune in to see his song being used, or if it was too surreal, he replied,
"If you get a chance to see them, it is pretty cool, and also pretty strange to see it in that context. But you can't turn your head away from the money. That's pretty nice. You can play a million gigs just to get the kind of money you make with five or six seconds of a song."
Lindell and his band will be playing at Tipitina's in New Orleans on Saturday, Nov. 24. The doors open at 9 p.m. and the show starts at 10 p.m.
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