tim eriksen BIO+

Vocalist, composer and ethnomusicologist Tim Eriksen is internationally known as one of the great living exponents of traditional American folksong and an innovative multi-instrumentalist (banjo, fiddle, guitar, fretless bajo sexto) whose solo acoustic performances push the boundaries of minimalism while tracing human experience from the gently humorous to the exuberantly joyful and utterly devastating. His background and ongoing collaborations cover a dizzying array of genres: hardcore punk, “shapenote,” Bosnian folk-pop, Carnatic classical, experimental electro-acoustic and symphonic music to name a few. With a PhD in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University, Eriksen has taught courses in American and World Music at Dartmouth College, Amherst College and the University of Minnesota and published scholarship on early New England music in connection to 19th century abolitionism, apocalyptic theology, technology and the birth of science fiction. As frontman of the legendary folk- noise outfit Cordelia’s Dad, Eriksen is the only singer/songwriter to have shared a stage with both Kurt Cobain and Doc Watson. 

Known for extensive contributions to films including the Oscar winning “Cold Mountain” his current projects include writing songs for Alison Krauss, performing with Will Oldham/Bonnie “Prince” Billy and creating new works with Afro Cuban pianist Omar Sosa for a follow-up to their twice GRAMMY nominated 2009 collaboration “Across the Divide.” Eriksen has long been at the forefront of an international Sacred Harp or “shape-note” singing revival, teaching workshops across North America, Europe and as far abroad as Singapore. With his late wife, Bosnian ethnomusicologist Mirjana Laušević, Eriksen conducted research in the US and eastern Europe, wrote a book on Balkan music in the United States and worked closely with Target CEO Bob Ulrich to launch the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. 

Although his primary musical training was in South Indian classical music, he cut his teeth as a performer as a founding member of seminal bands including Cordelia’s Dad (post-punk and folk), Žabe i Babe (Bosnian folk and rock) and Northampton Harmony (shape-note and early American choral music). In 2008 he made his Carnegie Hall debut as a solo vocalist in composer Evan Chambers’ symphonic song cycle The Old Burying Ground. Eriksen’s media appearances have included Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage and the Academy Awards. His shapenote compositions are sung regularly at singing gatherings around the world, and his song “I Wish the Wars Were All Over” was chosen by Joan Baez to be her final recorded musical statement. 

Adding to a long list of theater, film and dance collaborations, Eriksen has performed his ongoing original magic lantern musical theater piece “Pumpkintown” at venues including Harvard University, Dartmouth College, Théâtre Thénardier (Paris), Konstepidemin (Gothenburg) and throughout the UK and US. Recent and upcoming projects include work with Alison Krauss, producer Joe Boyd (Nick Drake, Pink Floyd), hardcore punk band Stands For Nothing, nine-piece experimental group Batteries Die, survival horror video game Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope, indie horror film The Outwaters and a posthumous duet with Macedonian music icon Esma Redžepova.