This native son of Savannah, Georgia is quite possibly the single best blues musician you’ve never heard of…
Having first discovered The Eric Culberson Blues Band nearly a decade ago while visiting the beautiful southern Georgia port city of Savannah, it was by nothing more than chance that we should hear their bluesy, folksy riffs echoing down River Street late one evening while out for a walk… An avid fan of the blues I was immediately hooked by the skillful guitar work and soulful rough vocals, sounds that ultimately drew my wife and I in to the small riverside bar where Eric and company had setup shop for the evening.
What makes ECB so good? It’s simple, Eric and crew are themselves unabashed self-proclaimed fans of the blues…. True to their love and honest with their art, The Eric Culberson Blues Band seamlessly and soulfully blends blues genres so as to provides their audiences with a melodic journey up the Mississippi which spans every genre of blues from the Deltas of the deep south to the shores of Lake Michigan in the north and everything in-between. Having previously fancied myself a bit of a blues aficionado, my listening to the music of Eric Culberson’s band has helped me to establish a broader and more audibly educated appreciation for the multifaceted and highly regional blues stylings which comprise this great American genre of music.
The Eric Culberson Band hails from Savannah, Ga and is steeped in Blues tradition. They are a very popular, high energy three piece band that has been pleasing audiences for over 20 years on the road in countless clubs, festivals and private occasions.With over a million miles on the road, the ECB are definitely seasoned musicians that have built a reputation based on consistency, dependability, and professionalism.
The ECB’s material consists of many different styles of Blues music, from “gut-bucket” Delta Blues (Muddy Waters, Louisana Red, ) to Urban Funk Blues (Son Seals, Freddy King), to Texas Swing (Albert Collins, the Vaughn Brothers), to Chicago Blues (Jr Wells, Buddy Guy, Magic Sam, Elmore James), so everyone in the audience gets the best of many worlds.The ECB also have over 2 dozen original compositions that have appealed to the music lovers looking not only for traditonal Blues music, but fresh new energy and material as well. Here’s what the critics have said about the originals…
ERIC CULBERSON – Guitar, Vocals
Bandleader Eric Culberson has been playing music virtually all his life. Growing up in a family of musicians, he was drawn to his father’s acoustic guitar at the age of six — and before he’d even finished First Grade, had discovered a love for public performance: at a holiday party he entertained his classmates with a rendition of the Christmas classic “Silent Night,” and has never looked back.
Before too long, this Southeast Ga. native had been turned on to such legendary rock acts as Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and found that what thrilled and inspired him the most was also the common denominator between them all: the blues. With guidance from friends and family, Culberson traced the artistic roots of his rock and roll heroes, and found himself immersed in the recordings and histories of such fabled guitar-slinging bluesmen as Son Seals, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters and –perhaps most notably– the three Kings: B.B., Albert and Freddy.
When not plying his trade as an electrician, a young Culberson could always be found feverishly practicing in his tiny efficiency apartment in Savannah’s famed Historic Downtown (which he’d “soundproofed” by duct-taping pillows and couch cushions to the windows). After years of devotion to his craft, he and a few friends formed a band. Relatively quickly, they earned enough evening gigs at local bars to allow the nascent frontman to kiss his day-job goodbye. By 1993, Culberson’s drive and raw talent drew the attention of Kingsnake Records’ head Bob Greenlee, who signed Eric as a solo artist. Together, they would release two critically-praised CDs: BLUES IS MY RELIGION and NO RULES TO THE GAME.
Noteworthy for their reliance on original material (as opposed to re-arranged blues standards), each of those independent albums earned highly coveted 5-Star Ratings in such esteemed music-biz publications as LIVING BLUES and BLUES REVIEW. His debut CD’s title track hit #24 on the national Blues Airplay Chart, and subsequent touring saw Culberson and his road band play many major festivals up and down the East Coast, into the Mid-West and even for a short stint in Europe. However, in 1998, Eric shifted gears a bit, opening his own live music nightclub, Savannah Blues. For the next six years, that venue served as his band’s home base of operations, and also brought in some of the finest artists on the blues club and roadhouse circuit, such as Magic Slim and the Teardrops, surf guitar icon Dick Dale, Bobby Blue Bland, the late Sean Costello, a pre-Allman Bros. Derek Trucks, fabled “hillbilly jazz” fiddler Vassar Clements, Widespread Panic associates Bloodkin, and many, many more.
After the demise of Kingsnake Records, a loyal fan offered to finance Culberson’s next indie album, LIVE AT THE BAMBOO ROOM, which was taped in front of a full house at a fabled Florida venue that had become one of the band’s favorite stops. The first of Eric’s albums to find him backed by one of his own road bands, this disc was also the first professional recording to accurately capture the energy, intensity and spontaneity that are Culberson’s trademarks. Its 2006 release also roughly coincided with the sale of Savannah Blues, which freed the frontman from the stress and burden of juggling roadwork with nightclub management, allowing him to concentrate solely on writing, playing and recording music.
In the years since, Culberson (and his most recent rhythm section of bassist Nate Saraceno and drummer Stuart Lusk) have honed their chops, their grooves and their musical telepathy to a level only hinted at in previous incarnations of the band. Indeed, not only has Eric’s fretwork moved to a higher level, but he has emerged as a much more powerful and nuanced vocalist than previously documented throughout his lengthy career. It was with this newfound polish and self-confident swagger that Culberson and company began work on his most ambitious album to date in the Summer of 2009.
IN THE OUTSIDE is simultaneously a noteworthy departure for Eric, and a welcome return to form. For the first time, the guitarist and singer is openly incorporating elements of his musical upbringing which were somewhat downplayed on his prior releases. Alongside the more traditional electric blues material, adventurous listeners may be pleasantly surprised to hear echoes of the funk, R&B, hard rock, Southern-fried jam and even early punk — all of which played a key role in forming the talent and sound of this gifted front-man and songwriter.
Recorded entirely in Savannah, Ga. at Elevated Basement Studios, the album features Eric and his road band (along with cameos from some of the area’s most respected players) on 11 original tunes. With a highly-anticipated release date of Dec. 29, 2010, it’s the musical equivalent of a New Year’s Resolution, a boisterous declaration of intent from an under-appreciated Southern songwriter, and a safe bet for one of the more noteworthy independent rock and blues records of 2011.
STUART LUSK – Drums & Percussion
Stuart’s earliest memories are of listening to his father’s band rehears in the family’s garage. Though his father was a singing guitarist, Stuart was drawn to the drums, and would often take to them himself –without permission– when no one was around. By high school, he was playing in the marching band, his own garage band and studying both percussion and piano privately. A chance 1991 meeting with Eric Culberson led to a full-time gig (both locally and on the road) as a member of what was then known as the EROK Band.
Lusk left the group in 1994 for college (he’d eventually earn both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in music), while continuing to freelance as a percussionist in symphonic settings, jazz combos, pit orchestras and rock and blues bands. In 2000, fresh from grad school, he returned to Savannah and to the EROK Band, eventually accepting a job as the Band Director at a local middle school while continuing to moonlight for live dates. After three years of teaching, he decided to once more devote himself to gigging full-time with the Eric Culberson Band.
NATE SARACENO – Bass
Boston-area native, Nate was entranced as a small child by the notion of playing in a band — so much so that he can recall making cardboard replicas of Eddie Van Halen’s signature guitars and pretending to perform with them. It would not be until the second grade that he’d receive any sort of formal musical training (in the form of piano lessons). Within a year, he’d received his first paying job: his keyboard-playing hands were used in the closeup cutaways of a Made-For-TV Christmas special.
By the fifth grade, he’d saved enough money to buy an actual electric guitar, which became his instrument of choice for some time. In his formative high school years, he taught himself the art of multi-track recording in his basement, and after moving to Savannah, Ga. to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design, he and a few friends formed their own original rock band which led to paid gigs in the region.
After graduating in 2002, he devoted himself to learning the electric bass, and in 2004 joined the Eric Culberson Band, after sitting in with the group at one of their famed “Open Jam Nights” — jumping, he says, at the chance to play with such “talented, veteran musicians.”