S. Eric Ketzer began performing as a singer/songwriter/poet on the coffeehouse circuit of San Diego, sharing the stage with the likes of Jewel, Steve Poltz, Gregory Page, and Steve Harris. Following his educational pursuits, he moved to Missouri in 1998 and immediately became a fixture on the St. Louis scene. Since that time, Ketzer has fronted several successful bands including the Eric Ketzer experiment, Whiskey Daydream, and, most recently, So Much Closer. He has toured throughout the US logging shows in over 19 states hitting both coasts and a significant portion of the Midwest. Ketzer strikes a nice balance of soul and roots. His lyrics are sincere and poetic, and you can feel every word that he sings.
Ketzer's credits include making it to the Final 5 of the “Best Bands You are Not Listening To” contest, which was a national contest ran by the WB (now CW) TV Station. He has been features on several TV shows, including Show Me St. Louis, The Set, The Acoustic Cafe, The Acoustic Bean, and Midwest Music Explosion. His songs have been played on local, regional, and international radio. Ketzer has also played several festivals including the Thirsty Melon Festival in Louisville, KY, LU-Palooza in St. Charles, MO, Earthday at Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, MO, Garagestock in Salem, MO, 4th Annual Earthday Festival in Plano, TX, and the Deep Ellum Arts Festival in Dallas, TX. In 2005 Whiskey Daydream was nominated for the Best Americana Band in St. Louis by KDHX and Playback Magazine, and in 2006 he won the Artist of the Year award from DiMBy Productions.
Currently, he is focusing on smaller, intimate, venues, such as House Concerts and will play anywhere the road takes him.
Eric Ketzer - Vocals/Guitar
Unfulfilled Desires - 1999
Lost Angel - 2002
Left Side of the River (EKe) - 2003
Reflections on Yellow Wallpaper (EKe) - 2005
Whiskey Daydream (Whiskey Daydream) - 2007
Felt Not Seen (So Much Closer) - September 2010
S. Eric Ketzer: Lost Angel
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These songs will fill your soul, making you believe in God and the intricacies of life. The term ...These songs will fill your soul, making you believe in God and the intricacies of life.
The term “singer songwriter” has lost its meaning. Sure, there are many lead vocalists who also write lyrics and music, but they’re not putting their hearts into it; they’re not giving of themselves, not opening up the world—theirs or ours—for deeper introspection. If you’re looking for the true poet, look no further than local artist S. Eric Ketzer. Ketzer’s 2002 release, Lost Angel, is a collection of poems sung as songs, each of them telling a story.
“Desolation Angel”—in Ketzer’s words, a tribute to Jack Kerouac—starts with a haunting, distorted guitar and never lets up, conveying a relentless sense of attempting to break free. “Dreams Come” is a pretty love song Ketzer wrote, watching his wife sleep. Despite the pain of a breakup in “When I Think it’s Over,” the song itself is a bouncy jaunt with fast fretwork. A bit of a country influence infects songs such as “Sometimes” and “Modern Cowboy,” lending texture to the disc overall. The swirling sound of “Sacrifice” is captivating, as well. As a closing point, “Lost Angel” is a beautiful song representing lone dancer as angel.
The inclusion of two spoken-word poems, “Baptismal” and “Reunion,” detracts from the continuity of the music; while I enjoy Ketzer’s reading the first time through, on follow-up listens they seem to get in the way. However, they are but two songs; the remaining 12 will fill your soul, making you believe in God and the intricacies of life…making you want to grab a glass of wine and the one you love and dance like no one’s watching.
Eric Ketzer: Setting the bar high
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Working the daily grind is just a way to pay the bills... but Eric Ketzer's real pleasure comes from...Working the daily grind is just a way to pay the bills... but Eric Ketzer's real pleasure comes from playing music. A performer in every sense of the word, Ketzer can strum his guitar, sing you a rock ballad and keep you entertained on stage all at the same time. Being in the biz for more than 13 years, Ketzer is a veteran on the scene but his sound is anything but old-fashioned. His acoustic style is a little bit county and a little bit rock n' roll. With fond memories of his years of playing music in the Midwest, this California native is ready to make more memories and turn them into a twangy tune for all to enjoy. Formerly of EKe and Whiskey Daydream and now of Pawnshop Testimonies and The Frontline, this musical madman is setting the bar pretty high for musicians that follow.
Is the song Reflections on Yellow Wallpaper based on actual events? Do your songs come from truths in your life?
Eric Ketzer: When leading into songs I often tell stories, and one of the stories I tell indicates that no matter what the original intent of the song, where the muse was driving, all songs, at some point, are about the songwriter. So yes, most are about truths in my life. ‘Reflections on Yellow Wallpaper” is actually based on a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman aptly called “Yellow Wallpaper”. When I was in college I was completely psycho about getting A’s, so I asked my professor if I could write a song about that story and perform it in class for extra credit. She said yes, so I did. That story really spoke to me because when I first moved here from California, I kind of felt trapped, like I was in my own version of a rescuer (you have to read the story to get that).
Personal and musical influences are huge. Who/what has inspired you to write and perform music?
Eric Ketzer: I feel so cocky when I say this, but I don’t think anyone influenced me to perform music. It is something I have to do, literally. When I am not playing I am a wreck. I am more me when I am on stage then at any other time. Now, there are several people that inspire me to be better, to work harder or influence my style, but to just do it comes from within... something I do not understand, something that is a driving force in my life and has caused many strange decisions. Like quitting a great job to take a similar job making $15,000 LESS just so it wouldn’t conflict with my ability to perform.
When deciding to record a new album how does your writing process start?
Eric Ketzer: It is different each time. I often say there are two writers, those that are crafters that work everyday, that force the pen. And then there are muse chasers. I am a muse chaser. I am always waiting on that emotional spark that compels me to write. When I was younger this was very effective because everything was new and fresh, the first breeze of a different shore could trigger something. Now, as I am nearing 34, I am giving 50+ hours to work, I have a home to take care of and gas to pay for, I’ve already been through a divorce…the muse doesn’t seem to visit quite as often. So, I am learning to be a crafter, forcing myself to write…to feel. When Pawnshop Testimonies began—that is my new project—it was just Rob Woerther and me, and we sat down one night a week and just wrote. We limited ourselves to certain gear and decided we would write about objects. So, I brought a bunch of old pictures to the sessions, and when it was my turn I pulled out a photo and tried to recreate that moment in the song.
If you could open for any national touring act who would it be and why?
Eric Ketzer: Wow, what a great question. I suppose that is all relative to which band. With EKe I think my major influence at that time was still probably Edwin McCain. I have always been a huge fan, since Honor Amongst Thieves. With Whiskey Daydream it would have definitely been Son Volt or Ryan Adams. With Pawnshop Testimonies I’d have to say the Swell Season is constantly in the back of my mind, so opening for them would be amazing. Solo, just one singer/songwriter opening for another, I’d go with Damien Rice. Actually an ideal bill would be, Damien Rice, Glen Hansard, Duncan Sheik, Edwin McCain and me opening. I could die after that night.
What’s next on your plate?
Eric Ketzer: Honestly, the only show I have on the books right now is my annual birthday show on July 15th. This year is super special because it is at Cicero’s which is one of my ALL time favorite venues, it is a PlaybackSTL Music Showcase, my mom is going to be in town from Arizona, and this will be the first show for the full Pawnshop Testimonies. Of course I have the Open Mic every Tuesday at St. Charles Coffee House, as you mentioned. It is kind of like I have three bands in limbo and no time to constantly follow up with venues for solo gigs, so I am not playing out that much…sad actually. If you know anyone that wants to do my booking for me, let me know because I would play every night of the week, if I could figure out how to make that happen, without doing a TON of covers.
Tell me your brief background of musical history... how you got started, how long you've been on the scene?
Eric Ketzer: Let’s see, I was born a poor black child…no wait that is the jerk. Well, I have been in choir as long as I can remember and a poet for equally as long (although my pen did not mature until my 20’s). While I was in California I was very active in the poetry scene and started incorporating acappella songs into my performances. Wild Willie, one of the hosts of an Open Mic I frequented, heard me and encouraged me to pick up the guitar so I could accompany myself, so I did. I was 21. So, I have been at it for about 13 years. I never took lessons, just started writing music. To this day I know 2 covers, and I learned both in the last 2 years.
What has been the most interesting/oddest thing you have witnessed while playing on stage or what is the oddest thing that has happened to you on stage?
Eric Ketzer: This is kind of a loaded question. I mean Whiskey Daydream and EKe both did some regional touring so we have seen some shit. Actually, I usually have my eyes closed, so I can say I have missed some shit. One of the most memorable moments was down in Cage Girardeau at a place called Our House, R.I.P. We were doing a 4 hour gig, yes all originals, and this wedding party rolled in. At one point all the bridesmaids ended up on stage with us. We were being groped while trudging through various tunes when one particularly sexy maiden whispered in my ear, “We’re from Alabama, will you play ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ it’s my favorite song.” Normally I scoff at any Lynard requests because it is just so cliché but for her we made an exception. I looked over at Scott Allen (EKe guitarist) and asked, “Do you know ‘Sweet Home Alabama?’” His response, “Embarrassingly enough I do.” So, he played it, and I made up every lyric I didn’t know which was over half the song, but they were so drunk they never noticed. Now, I am sure that is a pretty standard experience for most bar musicians. One that I think very few have had happened playing the Boulevard booth for a Ram’s Tailgate. This was with Whiskey Daydream so we were plowing through some sweet Southern Rock originals when these two homeless guys started getting verbal with each other. Now, when you combine verbal insults and Night Train a fight is bound to happen, and it did, right in front of us, one of the guys got thrown into us. It was crazy!
5 years from now, where do you want to be in the industry?
Eric Ketzer: The same place I have wanted to be for the last 13 years, surviving as a touring musician. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy my job, but I’d sell my house tomorrow and live out of my van if I could sustain myself on the road.
Where can I find your music/buy your album?
Eric Ketzer: CD Baby is the best place to purchase it or one of multiple download sites, but if you come to a show I’ll probably just give you CDs. I have gotten to the point where I just want people to listen, and I am not sure you can attach a monetary value to something like music. I mean how do you put a price on air? So, while I have a good job and don’t need the money I just give it away…I’d rather have you listening to the CDs then having them collect dust in my garage.
What song(s) do you find your fans enjoy/request the most?
Eric Ketzer: Right now, the songs that get requested the most are my two covers, “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel and “Home” by Michael Buble. I do both of them WAY different then the original versions, so they are really fresh and the people that see me the most are SO shocked that I am playing covers that it is like a novelty for them. Of my own tunes, probably “Feel the Sun” because it is my best friend’s favorite song. “Dear Diary” has always been very popular. It kind of depends on which band, as the song selection changes with each band. Oh, “Picture Frame” is another one. Those are the three originals that get requested most when I am solo…oh and “Whiskey Days,” almost forgot that one.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.