The Artist: John Erlandson, Peardale
What is your career and your current job title? Residential renovations and singer-songwriter/musician.
Describe in a sentence or two your art. I write and perform songs that raise awareness of what’s going on inside us, as well as speak to the issues of our day. I play 12-string guitar with syncopated rhythms and finger-picking.
How long have you been working in this discipline? Been playing guitar and writing for 35 years, but really took off 10 years ago and it keeps building.
Why do you do it? I can’t not do it. Writing and playing are a major extension of who I am. It also brings me a lot of inner satisfaction.
What do you hope to accomplish? Would like the world to hear the music. The songs are so much bigger than me, and I’m just glad to be part of the creative process. The music and the words touch people and bring healing – I’ve seen it and felt it often. It’s awesome!
Do you create your art with an exact message you want the viewer to receive and if yes, what is that message? The creation of a song is amazing. Usually a certain sound will emerge, maybe a riff or melodic rhythm and then phrases start to come that fit. I never really know where it will go, and then it does its magic and takes a very definite path. There is always a message. Often there is a call to love, freedom, peace, hope, etc. The title song from my CD, “Ready for Your Heart,” called forth the love of my life, and Linda and I are living the “happily ever after” part.
Where do you want to be with your art, in terms of part-time versus full-time status, art positions and where your works are seen? I would like to be performing full-time. Linda and I will be traveling to Colorado in August to play, and plan to tour with some friends on a “back East” swing later this fall. I am interested in booking more shows in Grass Valley, Nevada City, Tahoe, Reno, Bay Area, etc. and also plan to schedule some California festivals for next year.
What kind of special training did you take? If not, how did you learn the art techniques or processes? No formal training, but spent many years leading worship and writing songs in Minnesota and Colorado churches. Went to Song School in Lyons, Colo. in ’95 to hone my skills and move my music into secular venues. I learn mostly by doodling around with alternate tunings and playing with fellow musicians.
What’s your favorite part of your endeavors? I am very satisfied when a song is completed. It’s like the birthing of a child … new and valuable. Also, I enjoy feeling the music connect with people. Sometimes deep touches deeply and it can be quite moving.
What’s your least favorite part of your endeavors? The business end of music is not much fun. Art is not always valued in our culture and that’s sad. But there are always those that get it … and that keeps us moving.
How many hours a day or, if more appropriate, a week do you spend on your work? The time spent varies. I can spend 30 hours a week practicing, performing, or three hours a week depending on the flow of life.
Do you consider it hard work and could anyone do it? The work is not hard … it’s more like play. Most anyone could do it but most will not. It does take some talent, but passion drives it. Dougie MacLean says it best, “You’ve got to hold it right, and feel the rhythm to the sound.” That in itself takes some persistence in listening and the acumen to feeling and really hearing.
Any other comments you’d like to include? Just recently moved to Grass Valley/Nevada City from Evergreen, Colo., and find you to be the friendliest of people. Thanks for your warm welcome. I’m playing next Friday, July 23rd, from 6-10 p.m. at The Wall Street Café (114 W. Main St.) in Grass Valley as part of a singer-songwriter showcase … thanks Ray!
For bookings or gig information, call John Erlandson at 272-3794.
“The Artists” appears each Friday. To suggest a person to be profiled, call The Union newsroom at 477-4232.
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