Saturday, April 23, 2011

Erick Baker: Poetry Set To Music

It is amazing how sometimes in the darkest of moments; a person truly discovers who they are and what they are made of. Heartbreak is an emotion that almost all of us have experienced, but each of us deals with it in our own personal way. For Erick Baker, heartache was a key that unlocked a gift that he has been harvesting inside of him, untapped and waiting to express itself.

After graduating from college with a degree in Public Relations, Erick turned to his proud parents and told them that this was not what he wanted to do with his life. “I was lost; I didn’t know what to do. I felt like a blank canvas,” stated Baker. “I decided to do some travel and I also decided to teach myself to play the guitar, it was something that I had always wanted to do.”

Enter the girl who unleashed the artist. Erick had dated her for several years and was in love with her. Then, out of nowhere……she broke his heart. “I had never been in love. I don’t throw that word around lightly,” stated Erick. “My heartache led me to start writing my own songs. Suddenly, the stars started to realign and I started to feel better.” He started back to doing open mic nights and even went back to school to get his masters in English so that he could teach.

One night while performing at one of those open mic nights, a promoter from Nashville was watching. He approached Baker after his set and asked him if he wanted to open for John Legend. “I was really surprised. At that time, which was around May of 2007, I had nothing recorded yet,” said Erick. “Suddenly, I went from playing for 15 people to an audience of 1500.”

The date was finally upon him and Erick performed a 45 minute set for the crowd. Now, Erick’s voice had developed from him performing in bars and trying to sing over talking people. This crowd was a bit different. “They sat there and listened intently to what I had to say,” said Erick. “They got it and at the end of my show, they gave me a huge ovation. At that precise moment, I thought to myself I can do this.” That was a night that changed Erick’s life forever.

In February of 2008, his EP It’s Getting Too Late to Say It’s Early was released. A release party was announced and Erick sold out the venue and turned people away. Three days later, he opened up for James Blunt. The crowd was blown away by his passionate and emotional lyrics and gave him a standing ovation. He also sold every copy of his EP that night.

Erick’s shows continued to draw big crowds. 2010 proved to be a busy year for Erick as he released his full length CD entitled Holding the Pieces in Place as well as a CD/DVD entitled Live at the Bijou Theatre. In the summer of 2010, he was asked to open one show for the legendary band Heart and he impressed the Wilson sisters so much that they asked him to finish out the tour with them. “That was really special for me. They allowed me to bring my family out on tour on their bus. That meant so much to me because my daughter Annabelle was just a baby and I don’t like being away from her or my wife,” said Erick.

Erick’s latest release is a DVD entitled Stay Awhile. It is a small, intimate acoustic performance in which he explains the meaningful stories behind his songs. “With this DVD, I wanted a visual aid to validate and clarify what I am doing and to help the audience get it. My live shows allow me to reach another emotional level of rawness and passion. Songwriting for me is different every time. Lyrics and melody are the key ingredients with minimalistic music,” says Erick. “The depth is in the lyrics themselves. What I write is influenced by my family. The birth of my daughter Annabelle has given me even more purpose and has fueled me. When I am up on stage, I am fighting and singing for my family.”

Erick’s live shows are what he lives for and he truly delivers in those shows. On stage: A man, standing alone, naked in front of a crowd of strangers with only an acoustic guitar by his side. This leaves him vulnerable and exposed for all to see and he loses himself in his performance. That blank canvas is suddenly a collage of feelings and emotions as raw as you have ever heard or felt. “People have told me that I need to pull back a little, that I allow people to see too much. I grew up in a small town in Tennessee and everyone knew each other by their first name. I am not a guarded person and I want to stay that way. I always want to be that guy. I don’t want to be a huge star that you always see on TMZ or in the Inquirer.”

One of the most beautiful and powerful songs that he has recorded is called “Plastic Flowers” and I asked him for some insight on that song. “When I was growing up, my parents owned their own flower business and I delivered flowers to cemeteries. After I married my wife, I started thinking about spending a lifetime with her and the thought of losing her scared me,” said Erick. “My parents have been married for 40 years and I don’t understand that kind of love yet, but I want to. So, I sat down to write a song, from a man’s perspective yet trying to keep it universal, about a guy who lost his wife. He takes her fresh cut flowers everyday and he knows his life is coming to an end. On that last day, he takes her plastic flowers because he knows they will always be there. I have to detach myself when I song it live or I will cry, it’s very overwhelming.”

So, what does the future hold for Erick Baker? “I want to get to the level that Tom Petty is at right now. To just go out there and be able to do whatever you want to do. He is so real and so true. If I can be at least a minor fraction of him, that would be great. I also want to be the best husband and dad that I can be. I want the man that my fans fall in love with to be the same man that my wife fell in love with also.” Erick also went in the studio this past January and recorded his new CD that he hopes to have out very soon.

My best friend and I were lucky enough to see Erick perform last summer with Heart. Neither of us had ever heard of him, but we were quickly captivated by this guy on stage with his acoustic guitar and a voice full of conviction. We waited in line to meet him and bought his latest CD. On the ride back that night, we listened to it and his words moved us to tears. That warm summer night captured one of those musical experiences that forever changed my life.

Erick Baker is a man who turned heartbreak into a pivotal life changing experience, in a positive way. He’s a man who sings from his heart and just lays it all on the line. The amount of passion and emotion in his lyrics and voice is almost beyond comprehension. His live performances truly do help to transcend his songs to another level. Erick Baker: a man whose gift of poetry to music will strike a chord in you like never before.

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