A onetime Minnesotan now restored to his native Massachusetts, Tim Eriksen is an ethnomusicologist and renaissance man of roots that extend from South India to the Balkans, Appalachia, and New England. Eriksen's voice seems to emanate from the depths of the earth, expressing haunting secrets long locked in rocks and ancient trees, at full howl boiling the very marrow in your bones. It comes from Eriksen's expertise in Sacred Harp or shape-note singing, a stark, emotionally intense form of choral singing designed for Southern church congregations in the mid-19th century. Anthony Minghella's film Cold Mountain sparked new interest in Sacred Harp, and Eriksen has played a key role, providing the singing voice for actor Brendan Gleeson's character as well as teaching Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, Elvis Costello, and Sting how to sing shape-note. He's adept on a variety of stringed instruments, from fiddle to bajo sexto. His bands have included Cordelia's Dad's folk-noise and Zabe i Babe's Bosnian folk and pop. Eriksen's latest album is Northern Roots Live in Námešt (Indies Scope), a solo effort recorded in the Czech Republic, but filled with harrowing murder ballads from old New England, chilling Sacred Note tunes, and even the odd love song. (Photo by Michael Murphree)
Thu., Nov. 5, 7 p.m., 2009
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