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Curtis Eller

Written by johnb April 4, 2008 and read 39924 times.

Banjo music for funerals? Circus sideshow provocateur? Curtis Eller evokes sounds with the tone of humanity and enough historical references to satisfy your 5th period U.S. History teacher.

New York City’s angriest yodeling banjo player.

When and how did you first become interested in music?

Eller: My dad was a bluegrass banjo player so I started playing banjo when I was about 13 or 14 years old. I didn't start writing tunes until I was about 18 or 19 and wrote a musical comedy about the life of former president William Howard Taft.

I read that you got your start performing as a juggler and acrobat at the ripe old age of seven in the circus. Can you tell us how that came to be and how/when you made the transition to musical performance.

Eller: My dad also ran local youth circus in Detroit when I was growing up in the 70's. I was only about 4 or 5 years old then, but I did a little juggling and unicycle work with my dad after the circus closed shop. I don't think the circus had anything to do with my musical life until much later....and mostly just a curiosity that's turned up in the lyrical content of the tunes.

How do you describe your music to people? If you had to pick a genre that you feel most aligned with, what would it be and why?

Eller: I try not to describe my music....but when cornered I say it's banjo music for funerals. If I could pick a genre it would be "city & eastern" music or perhaps "sepia-delic".

How do you feel about downloading, file sharing, iTunes, etc. and in general the way the internet and sites like Myspace have impacted the music industry?

Eller: I'm all for it. I hear people moaning about the state of the music industry, but I've never been part of the music industry so it doesn't bother me. Maybe it's rough times for the industry, but it's a fantastic time for music! Nothing could make me happier or be better for music than the demise of every major record label.

How would you define the word “success” when it comes to your musical endeavors?

Eller: I am a success...but I could sure use a raise.

You list your influences as Buster Keaton, Elvis Presley and Abraham Lincoln. That has to be the most unique list of influences I've ever seen. Can you tell us a little about how and why you've chosen each as such an inspiration.

Eller: I like to wear oversize trousers like Buster. I try my best to shake it like Elvis. And, like Mr. Lincoln, I can kick higher than my head while playing the banjo.

If you could work with anyone in the music business (musician, producer, etc.), who would it be and why?

Eller: I'd like to play maracas with Bo Diddley for the obvious reasons.

Are there any places in particular that you have not played yet but where you would love to have the opportunity to perform?

Eller: I do a lot of touring, but there's only so many months in the year. I'd love to play Berlin...I don't know why, but I think they could use more banjo music in Berlin.

Describe the vibe of your live show?

Eller: The vibe varies widely from show to show. I try to figure out what kind of crowd I'm dealing with, and proceed accordingly. It usually involves a lot of running, jumping and yodeling. I promise to break a sweat for any crowd that makes an honest attempt to yodel with me.

What are your thoughts on Bush? Who do you support in the presidential race and why?

Eller: I don't want to talk about George Bush except to say that he is no longer welcome to attend my performances.

What do you do when you're not making music? Day job? Hobbies? What is a typical day in your life aside from music?

Eller: I have a beautiful, one-year-old daughter named Daisy Josephine! She gets all my time and energy...whatever's left over goes into the music.

What do you see as the biggest obstacles for bands/musicians?

Eller: The music business has always done everything in it's power to hurt musicians. With that out of the picture, I don't see much to stand in our way.

What do you think about the concept that art can unify people, who may have different fundamental beliefs? Do you believe in the possibility that your music could possibly have that innate power?

Eller: That seems like a tall order. At best I think my music has the innate ability to make people laugh at tragic stories about elephants and industrial fires. I guess that's a kind of unity.

What is coming up for you? Any shows you'd like to tell us about? Any other news?

Eller: Well...the big new for me is the release of my brand new CD, "Wirewalkers & Assassins". I think it's easily my best record so far and I'm very excited to get out on the road with these tunes. I'll be doing a UK CD release tour in April, and there'll be a lot more action in the coming months!

Any other random note you’d like to leave this interview with? Something that you’d like to address but we didn’t cover?

Eller: I'd just like to invite folks to stop by my website for news about the new CD and to check out the tour schedule.

Eller: Oh yeah, I'd also like to put in a plug for my wife Jamie B. Wolcott. she does all of the artwork for my CD covers, tour posters and T-Shirts. You can see her work here:

1 comments on this InterviewWrite your own comment

"Curtis is truely a "one in a million" artist."

Posted by: Antibiotics for bacterial sinus infection help ant on Apr. 15, 2008 9:44 am


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