Montana bluesman Erik Gustafson, aka “Erik Ray”, who has fared well at the International Blues Competition these past few days, will be performing at Boondocks Tavern & Grill on Route 114 in Weare, New Hampshire. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Erik has just moved to the Mount Washington Valley area from a small ranch town in Montana, and has enjoyed getting to know many of the musicians in the area.
Erik recently won the 2013 Granite State Blues Society Challenge in the Solo/Duo category and is honored to represent New Hampshire at the International Blues Competition down in Memphis, TN this January.
As you will see Thursday night, Erik is somewhat of a musical anomaly. Over the last 30 years as a professional musician and entertainer he has, among other things, built up his “one-man-band” act. He plays the guitar, mandolin, harmonica, kick drum (or his new favorite: the cajon), high hat, upright bass and accordion – mostly simultaneously.
It is hard to label his style of music. Although he usually advertises it as honky-tonk blues, it really encompasses many more genres. In his own words he says “I love Delta Blues, Chicago blues, jump and swing, old country from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, 1960s rock, Zydeco, a smattering of jazz and folk, polkas and anything else that moves me at the time”.
Gustafson was born and raised in the plains of Conrad, Montana, and comes from a musical family. His father, Rib, soon to be inducted into “The Cowboy Hall of Fame”, entertained Erik and his four siblings by sitting in the living room yodeling and singing cowboy and folk songs on his Epiphone guitar. Erik never really learned how to read music, or in his words “at least not well enough to get in the way of my playing.” When he was young his mother would play songs on the piano so he could learn the music. Erik’s brother Wylie is a world famous Yodeler, famous for his “Yahoo” yodel. Wylie asked Erik to play lead slide guitar on his recent CD “RocketBuster”, recorded in Nashville.
Nowadays, when he’s not herding cows or playing music, Erik is busy as a high school math teacher. He’s currently teaching at Bishop Brady, a private catholic high school in Concord, NH. He has an agreement with his students, as an incentive for high achievement, that if they average an A on their quiz he will play them a song on his guitar. It works!
Come down to Boondocks Tavern & Country Grill this Thursday January 30, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. on Route 114 in Weare, New Hampshire to hear some blues and give Erik Ray a warm welcome to our part of the world – where there are lots of trees.