The Hook And Ladder was home to bluesy country rock fans on Friday night as local favorite Erik Koskinen celebrated the release of his new album Cruising Paradise. Koskinen might be one of the hardest working musicians on the local scene. He has had his hand in a huge variety of local and national albums including Frankie Lee, Haley, the 4onthefloor, and Trampled By Turtles. You may have even seen him as part of the Dead Man Winter touring lineup last year! I knew that this wouldn’t be a show to miss with a track record like that.
Koskinen featured equally impressive Midwestern musicians to open for him and collaborate with throughout the night. It felt like he had hand-picked artists that inspire him. First, we were treated with a set from Iowa City’s Dave Moore.
Dave is no stranger to performing live. He is a folk singer who can play a myriad of instruments – and did so for years on A Prairie Home Companion. His songs were like heartfelt stories woven into songs. Nearly every song had an accompanying introduction before he began to strum his acoustic guitar. He warmed the crowd and got them laughing at his stories about Buzz Aldrin and the kinds of crazy antics you can find living near a college campus (note: driving your car on a pedestrian bridge does not come recommended by Dave).
Erik made his first appearance of the night to help Dave finish off his set. It was easy to tell that the two had a mutual admiration for each other. Erik’s slow bluesy guitar was the perfect companion to Dave’s guitar and striking lyrics.
Randy Weeks and The Koskinen Band kicked up the energy with a full band setup. They had the growing audience dancing with their twangy country-rock songs. Each band member seemed to be in their element. Most of all, they were having so much fun playing on the intimate stage. Erik smiled as he played solos. Everyone was buzzing about the chemistry between The Koskinen Band and Randy Weeks.
Erik returned to the stage with a suitcase and a binder full of hand-written pages. He set them down in front of his microphone and began to play. Accompanied by The Koskinen Band, he played through some fan-favorites and new songs from the album. He was completely at home on stage after years of touring and playing live music. Like Dave, he told vivid stories of life on the road and hard work. No one doubts his authenticity (how could you with a discography like his?!).
The club was packed with longtime fans who were excited to celebrate with him. They had clearly seen him many times and had been waiting all week to cut loose to their favorite artist. They shouted out asking for him to tell stories between songs. He happily obliged and told the story behind Broke Down. This kind of response from the crowd got each member of the band to another level. Their level of skill made bringing these songs to life seem effortless. It was the perfect environment to send these songs into the world.
If you’d like to check out Erik for yourself there are 7 chances to catch him in Minnesota before the end of September. Check out his touring schedule here.