My Guitar Is Made Of Wood: Jesse Erikson

Cabin №56 Gallery Summer Solstice Guest Musician

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Jesse Erikson, Summer Solstice Guest Musician “For me, the words are the most important part.”

Summer school, haha. Really though — first memories might be camping at Leo Carrillo beach with my family. Watching my brother surf or catch seagulls with a beach blanket. Then we’d try to shoot squirrels with water pistols. Visiting family up north, or on the East Coast. That’s also how I heard a lot music too. My dad always playing The Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, or Allman Brothers live at the Fillmore, stuff like that. Just a good amount of time spent the family really.

Sure, my guitar is made of wood and the strings are metal, which is mined and forged. Really everything is made from nature, whether it be a doctor’s stethoscope to some big shipping container boat. We put up these factories to make stuff out of nature and then we pollute it. Hopefully we make our way more toward not doing that. But boats use nature to move things, cars use gas and oils, planes fly way up in the air and are engineered with natural occurrence to keep them up when they need to and bring them down when they want. We also sing about nature and use it as a mark of beauty or loneliness. Carter family ‘Wildwood Flower’ or Doug Sahm’s ‘Texas Tornado’. It’s all there.

Well more than feel or know, just listen listen to the words. If they could make up the words then you could feel them. But I suppose the chords have a feel too. They kinda just go together. But if you only listen to one you’d be missing out on part of the picture. But I’m not really the one to dictate what people should be feeling. I guess they can pick apart what they want, and if that’s what they get out of it, that’s fine with me. What other people think about my songs is more interesting then what I feel. However, for me, the words are the most important part. I don’t really do any improvising, which I think is based on feeling and direction. I might improvise on harmonica a little when I’m playing blues stuff with my friends, but that’s just cause I ain’t as good as Little Walter or Sonny Boy, I’m just guessing at times.

Well specifically where I live now in Hermosa Beach we have the light house Cafe, which housed many of the jazz greats at one time. There also was a place called The Insomniac which was a book and coffee house. I heard one of the first places Allen Ginsberg read Howl was at The Insomniac. Someone told me Dave Van Ronk used to live for a bit in what’s now a Hostel above the bar. I read Woody Guthrie played a Heritage Festival there, I think in the ‘40’s — a lot of people I dig have blown threw here at one time or another. Patti Smith has a song called ‘Redondo Beach’, that’s just next door.

The Insomniac Bar in a vintage photo by founder Bob Hare.

I wouldn’t say just specifically say ‘woodsy’ — I like all the settings, they all speak a different language to me. They also have different feelings. But what I like about the woods is all the wood. The tall trees. Light coming threw in patches. Branches. Sure the animals are nice as well. Water. Yeah it’s all beautiful and inspiring.

Siting cross-legged on a couch, sunny afternoon in his apartment playing guitar, Jesse Erikson feels relaxed and most at home. He tells me he’s into things like poets, and old recordings, working on old cars, and reading and writing. His influences span from Barbeque Bob to Rimbaud. Jesse, currently 26, says at about the age of 17 he rediscovered Woody Guthrie. He first remembers singing “This Land Is Your Land” at his school. Later he went threw what he calls his “Growing up period” Jesses first serious song “Ballad of Abraham” meant a level of maturity to him. Today he’s constantly using old recordings and writings to base his works, and make sense of it in a modern world.

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