Eric Hanke
Gig Seeker Pro

Eric Hanke

Austin, Texas, United States | INDIE

Austin, Texas, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Country




"Austin Music Entertainment Review"

He’s a tall drink of water. And five years after Autumn Blues, Eric Hanke shows
what he’s learned on his sophomore release, Factory Man. Autumn Blues was
a successful record that established Hanke’s strong songwriting talent and
pleasantly persuasive voice. It was also a careful, somewhat icy record. It was a
good debut, better than it had to be, but the different flavors Factory Man offers
probably will go over better with the hometown crowd.

The change is immediately obvious in the first seconds of opener “It Ain’t Really
Love,” which features choppy lead guitar work and a no-nonsense message in
its lyrics. Gone are the contemplative acoustic guitar composing that Hanke was

enthralled with in 2006 – this record has muscle and swagger to spare. “Never
Gonna Leave You Now” is more shimmery and sympathetic – it’s nice to see that
Eric’s still a nice guy. It’s a stronger melody and the artist settles into the groove
better as the record wears on.

“Factory Man” is heavy on pathos and organ and the feeling that the modern day
is not living up to the memories of our elders. That same theme was prominent
on Autumn Blues, as well. Other songs, like the piano-laden “Keep My Love” and
soul-inflected “Hope Your Dreams Come True,” are as sweet and slow as honey.

Elsewhere, “Mr. Slim’s Blues” and especially the early-8o’s Eagles vibe of “Burn
it Down” show Hanke’s growth as a performer. Both are meaner and wilder than
any of the faster tracks on Eric’s debut, and seem recorded solely to rev up his live
show. “Been Knocked Down” marries Hanke’s positive vibe with his new, oiled-
up songwriting style. It’s easily the album’s best song and melody and Hanke
plays it for all it’s worth.

Soft-spoken ballad “No More Tears” ends the album on a quiet, introspective note
– the closest Factory Man ever comes to channeling the cleaned-up version of
Hanke we saw on Autumn Blues. But all that comes before “No More Tears” on
this new record makes the closer feel earned. Eric Hanke has added facets to
his already generous talent, and while Factory Man doesn’t break new ground
for the genre it reveals new depths to its artist. It’s a more colorful, likable set
of tracks. I hope Eric puts out his third LP before China becomes the world
economic superpower in 2016; I think he gets better from here. - Austin Music Entertainment

"Fame Review"

Hoo-ha! Though his message ultimately is one of middle-class hope and earthy day-to-daying, Eric Hanke also takes to cynicism like a trout to a shade-encrusted meadow stream, and the opening stanza of It Ain't Really Love kinda knocks ya back on your grinnin' pins:

Sunday come a-runnin', with the whiskey on my breath
Daylight come a-creepin', on a day as cold as death
There's nothing' like the present, to let the past be known
It ain't really love, babe, you just hate to be alone

More than a few of us, male and female, have run headlong into that sort of encounter (which can also be sweet as silk when you're lucky), no? However, even the positivism in this CD is shaded over by the realities of what forces its way into the mundane:

If we make it through the summertime
And I'll be yours and you'll be mine
And love will come in its own time
If we make it through the summertime

…where the entire world hangs in that monosyllabic two-letter conditional adverbial conjunction: 'if'. Man, doesn't that just encapsulate everything that's happening in the world right now? And Hanke sings it straight from the living room after dinner, the dishes done and the kids set to bed, sighing and thinking as he relaxes for a short evening before becoming the Factory Man once again tomorrow. The gent possesses a very down home boy-next-door voice—kinda Jackson Browne-y by way of a grown-up Opie Taylor—inside arrow-straight passion, and his band, which really shines a special light in Hope Your Dreams Come True, follows along beside. Then the wimmens sail in on Mr. Slim's Blues and things get all soulful and gin mill-y.

Hanke's buddy Merel Bregante (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Loggins & Messina) co-produced and co-arranged this tasty, multi-faceted, dust trail CD, and that's proven to bolster Hanke's rootsy talents nicely. Like Bregante, Eric can rock and roll, sing from church, and dance with the possums when the urge strikes, but, in the end, he's just a working' stiff reg'lar guy with a few things to say, a mess of rather well-put insights, and an artist's way with his endeavors. In this era of overblown everything, that's a damn blessing and relief.

And, ya know, I'm getting' reallllly pissed with all these great CDs I review in this forum. I used to have a rep for penning some vicious retorts to badly wrought crap in my national-mag days, but now look at me: you'd think I was Mr. Rogers! Sigh! Well, what the hell, it means I get to glom cool-ass discs like this one instead half-ass nonsense. I guess there are worse ways to pass one's days, hm? - Acoustic

"Reviews Folk and Country"

Austin-based roots songsmith Hanke earned rave reviews for his 2006 debut, Autumn Blues, and this follow-up deserves a similar fate. He's more eclectic than many of his Texan peers, happily throwing in blues ("Mr. Slim's Blues"), soul ("Hope Your Dreams Come True") and rock-inflected tunes like "Burn It Down" alongside country-oriented numbers. Hanke has a smooth, high tenor that proves suitably versatile, while a fine cast of accompanists include steel guitar wizard Cindy Cashdollar and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band drummer Merel Bregante, who also produced the album. Sarah Pierce contributes harmony vocals and co-wrote "Burn It Down" with Hanke. The title track tells the story of his downsized automotive worker grandfather ("we can make some cheaper brakes if we build 'em overseas"), and there's a similarly populist feel to other songs. Given the oft-gritty nature of his lyrics, Hanke's vocal style occasionally seems a little too gentle and mellow, but it shines on haunting album closer "No More Tears." This is a solid effort.
(Ten Foot Texan) - Exclaim Magazine- Toronto, ON

"Eric Hanke- Factory Man Review"

Eric Hanke is a great singer/songwriter in, though not necessarily of, the Texas tradition. Born in Michigan but raised in Dallas, Hanke writes what he knows with a no-B.S. style that's compelling. Everyday inspirations turn into art on his latest album, Factory Man. Produced by Merel Bregante (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Loggins & Messina), Factory Man combines a Midwestern working class sensibility with an eerie ability to bring characters and places to life in song, drawn across the musical and cultural crossbones of rock, country, blues, folk and soul.

Factory Man opens with "It Ain't Really Love", a catchy bit of rockabilly with an R&B backbeat. The song is catchy enough to have commercial legs, but has an old-school feel that's universally appealing. "Never Gonna Leave You Now" documents a working man's devotion in song. There's a middle of the road style here that is fitting, and Hanke's melody is classic. "Factory Man" portrays the hopelessness of a rust belt town where opportunity is in the past and tomorrow rests on the edge of oblivion. Hanke explores the loss of jobs overseas and the stoic grace of a working class forgotten by the country they built.

"Keep My Love" is a pensive love song; an entreaty to not forget him even the one he loves moves on. It's a solid album track worth a listen or two. Hanke expresses the hopes of a father for his son on "Hope Your Dreams Come True". This one will touch the heart strings, and would play well as a Country/Adult Contemporary crossover track. "Mr. Slim's Blues" is an inspired piece drawn from long conversations with an old neighbor who felt the only evils in the world were money and women. Hanke imbues the song with a spritely energy that's almost mischievous at times. "Burn It Down" is pure rocking country, a bit of a musical release that's perfectly placed.

"Gotta Little" is all about appreciating the little things in life as building blocks to something greater, while remembering to be happy with what you have. This is a fun tune with a non-oppressive moral and enough pop sensibility to be embraced by country radio. "Been Knocked Down" is a solid piece of melodic country pop, and sets the stage for the closer, "No More Tears". This last is a solid story-song that seems more fitting to somewhere in the middle of the album than the end. It's a solid song, but perhaps something of a letdown as a closing track.

Eric Hanke shows what great songwriters are capable of in spots on Factory Man. With an exceedingly pleasant voice and a knack for turning a phrase, Hanke shows real flashes of excellent through Factory Man. There's no real Wow moment here to draw it all together, but such things can be deceiving. Don't be surprised if we look back in time and realize that Hanke was just one long slow build, with excellence emerging as slowly and as unstoppably as a glacial advance. Factory Man may just be the tip of the iceberg. - Wildy's World

"Factory Man Reviewed in Elmore Magazine"

There’s no sophomore slump for Eric Hanke. While 2006’s Autumn Blues demonstrated great songwriting, it was mostly acoustic and laid back. He raises the ante here with full, mostly electric, backing. You can always count on consistent burning slide accents from Cindy Cashdollar, heard on six of the eleven tracks. Merel Bregante (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Loggins & Messina) produced the album and assembled some notable Austin players for this outing.

Hanke is a transplanted Michigan native who grew up in Dallas and immersed himself in the work of the many great Texas songwriters. He’s got the knack.

The title track begins talking about his grandfather working the assembly line and builds into a lament about unemployment and declining blue collar opportunities. “Mr. Slim’s Blues” comes directly from hours spent listening to his 85-year-old neighbor, Mr. Washington, during a period in which Hanke lived on South Padre Island. He not only translates inspirations into songs, as the best writers do, but he manages to touch on disparate but memorable details of life like baseball, old cars and heroes of bygone eras like Mickey Mantle. Inevitably you’ll find something to relate to in Hanke’s well-crafted, well-delivered tunes.

Jim Hynes - Elmore Magazine

"Folkster Spins Out Blue Collar Vibe"

Eric Hanke’s music is a perfect fit for Labor Day. That’s his niche,
songs for the working man which are saturated throughout his second
CD, Factory Man. He’s Guy Clark, with more swing as on the opening
cut “It Ain’t Really Love.”
The Clark comparison isn’t unusual since Texas is his base-camp.
Although, like yours truly, he was born and raised in Michigan. The centerpiece
of the CD is the title cut “Factory Man” a nod to the problems
many Americans are facing today.
“That song is about when that place, after so many years, was closing
down and outsourcing all of the jobs to China and Brazil,” said Eric.
“At the time, I wrote it about that one place in particular, but it became
about unemployment in general and the hard economic times people are
going through.”
He furthers the concept by using a photo of his grandfather on the
CD, who had immigrated to the U.S. and spent his whole life working at
the same plant.
“It’s a workingman’s tune,” Eric explained about the song. “On the
back of the Factory Man album, there’s a picture of my grandfather
when he was 17 years old in Germany, when he got his apprenticeship
as a tool-and-die maker.”
The CD is packed with 11 cuts of outstanding Americana rootsmusic,
that sound straight out of a Texas roadhouse.
Eric’s friend and drummer, Merel Bregante, produced the Factory
Man album. Bregante made his mark drumming for the Nitty Gritty Dirt
Band and Loggins & Messina.
I especially love “Mr. Slim’s Blues” and “East Side Blues” that are
seasoned with a nice helping of soulful rock.
- Lee County Courier-Tupelo, MS

"20 New Tunes: The Juds, Keith Urban and More"

Eric Hanke, "Gotta Little"
This tall Texan treats listeners to a positive song about having a little pocket money and a pretty girlfriend. That's easy to agree with. Like many aspiring Americana musicians, he's "living out of suitcases and trying to find some new places." In the meantime, he's well-placed in Austin. --Craig Shelburne -

"Texas Platters: Country Mile"

Singer-songwriters with a rebellious streak never get old, and Eric Hanke's second disc continues his adamant rejection of the trendy. In line with serious writers like Slaid Cleaves and Bruce Robison, the tall Texan's tunes, like the dark and dirty "Burn It Down" and world-weary title cut, uphold his ability to compose in the tradition without resorting to gimmickry. Hanke's earnest breed of roots-rock is a cool breeze on a stifling summer night. --JIM CALIGIURI - Austin Chronicle

"Hit List: Extra Extra"

Factory Man (Ten Foot Texan)
goes for an electric
sound with more twang than
his 2006 release, Autumn
Blues, and delivers a fine collection
of original songs. The
overall feeling is upbeat despite
most of the lyrics. Co-producer/
engineer/drummer Merel
Bregante keeps the rhythm
moving while Cindy Cashdollar’s
lap steel adds spice. – - Vintage Guitar Magazine

"Eric Hanke's "Factory Man" Song Pays Tribute to American Blue-Collar Workers"

As the national Labor Day holiday approaches, Austin-based singer/songwriter Eric Hanke’s title track single from his latest CD paints a vivid portrait of the current state of the American worker in today’s world. To hear the song, click on this link:

“It’s a workingman’s tune,” says Hanke about the song. “On the back of the Factory Man album, there’s a picture of my grandfather when he was 17 years old in Germany, when he got his apprenticeship as a tool-and-die maker.” His grandfather immigrated to the U.S. and like so many of his generation, spent most of his life working at one plant.

“That song is about when that place, after so many years, was closing down and outsourcing all of the jobs to China and Brazil,” explains Hanke. “At the time, I wrote it about that one place in particular, but it became about unemployment in general and the hard economic times people are going through.”

Since the April release of Factory Man, the album’s pure Americana music sound, populated by tales of the hopes, fears and dreams of blue-collar characters all drawn from Hanke’s life experiences (he was born in Michigan and moved to Dallas at the age of two), have resonated with fans and critics alike. “In line with serious writers like Slaid Cleaves and Bruce Robison, the tall Texan’s tunes like the down and dirty ‘Burn It Down’ and world-weary title cut uphold his ability to compose in the tradition without resorting to gimmickry,” said the Austin Chronicle in its review. “Hanke’s earnest breed of roots-rock is a cool breeze on a stifling summer night.” UK’s Country Music People described the album as “…11 superbly crafted gems from a singer of huge talent, passion, soul and humanity;” while Elmore magazine said of Hanke’s writing, “He not only translates inspirations into songs, as the best writers do, but he manages to touch on disparate but memorable details of life like baseball, old cars and heroes of bygone eras like Mickey Mantle. Inevitably you’ll find something to relate to in Hanke’s well-crafted, well-delivered tunes.” And The Dallas Morning News said in its review: “Texas has a fresh troubadour in the Guy Clark, Robert Earl Keen and Townes Van Zandt tradition… Hanke stitches country, folk, blues and roadhouse soul into the vivid songs on his second CD. You’ll connect with every one of them by the time the last note plays.”

Factory Man was produced by Hanke’s friend and bandmate, Merel Bregante, who gained fame drumming for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Loggins & Messina. Bregante also produced Hanke’s debut album, Autumn Blues, which was released in 2006 and signaled the arrival of a new songwriter who drew comparisons to some of the best the Lone Star State has to offer. Bregante also added his drum work to the new CD, along with such other standout players as Bregante’s wife, singer Sarah Pierce; guitarist Kenny Grimes; keyboardist Riley Osbourn; and steel player Cindy Cashdollar. - Music News Nashville

"Sounds Like Home: Spotlight on Texas Artists"

Texas has a fresh troubadour in the Guy Clark, Robert Earl Keen and Townes Van Zandt tradition… Hanke stitches country, folk, blues and roadhouse soul into the vivid songs on his second CD. You’ll connect with every one of them by the time the last note plays. - The Dallas Morning News

"Eric Hanke- Factory Man- The Alternate Root"

What's that.....the voice of reason? Bring that guy in here right away! On 'Factory Man', Eric Hanke's most recent release, the singer/songwriter attaches common sense and creates a bridge between that inner voice that works the controls and the outside voice that tends to describe things with a spoonful of sugar.
A dose of tough love comes into the songs with Eric's naturally high register easing the blows. Simple phrases pack punches, "it ain't really love, babe, you just hate to be alone" (It Ain't Really Love), "long before you’re through, I hope your dreams come true" (Hope Your Dreams Come Through), "if rock ‘n roll were only here to stay, I'd be another guy on the lost highway, but you get too old when you’re born too soon" (Been Knocked Down). Even thoughts of leaving and being left are cradled so that there is a little light left glowing, as "Keep My Love" comes in like a lullaby, "so keep my love for all your days and see me through my distant ways and if you must go but cannot stay, keep my love for all your days".
Eric Hanke seems to come from inside of your head. The Singer/Songwriter honors the craft by balancing universal themes with personal experiences.
Bellying up to the honesty and standing on your own is not an easy task. The playing on 'Factory Man" was anchored by producer, friend and bandmate, Merel Bregante who adds his drumming to background vocalist Sarah Pierce, guitarist Kenny Grimes, Keyboardist Riley Osbourn and Cindy Cashdollar on pedal steel. The band rocks with country rhythm (East Side Blues), struts persistently (Never Gonna Leave You Now) and sets off into the sunset atop a calm sea on album closer (No More Tears).
The factory man in the title track refers back to Eric Hanke’s granddad, who describes the song as “It’s a workingman’s tune. On the back of the album, there’s a picture of my grandfather when he was seventeen years old in Germany, when he got his apprenticeship as a tool-and-die maker”. Eric’s story related to the elder who, after immigrating to the United States, Worked his entire life at one plant. That loyalty left with Eric’s grandfather’s generation. “Factory Man” sings about today and the outsourcing of America “have mercy on me, dear Uncle Sam, I'm just trying to do, the very best I can, I make an honest wage, working with my hands, have mercy on me ‘cause I'm a factory man”. Explaining the back story, Eric states “That song is about when that place, after so many years, was closing down and outsourcing all the jobs to China and Brazil. At the time, I wrote it about one place in particular, but it became about unemployment in general and the hard economic times people are going through”. - The Alternate Root

"Eric Hanke- Factory Man"

Life is big and tall in Texas. Eric Hanke currently fits the bill on one of those attributes, and is trying to make the other true as well. Hanke stands above the crowd as far as musicians are concerned as he may well be the tallest artist performing today. He might go unnoticed on an NBA basketball team but on stage he is a formidable figure. He has started his own label, Ten Foot Texan Records.

He is still young and finding himself as an artist, while developing into a singer/songwriter of note. There is hope that his career will move in a big direction. Born in Michigan, he began performing in Germany, and now calls Austin, Texas his home. His 2006 debut album, Autumn Blues, was well received for its country and folk tunes.

Hanke has now returned with his second full-length release, Factory Man. The album was produced by his friend and bandmate Merel Bregante, former drummer with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Loggins & Messina. Some other contributors include singer Sarah Pierce, who is Bregante's wife, guitarist Kenny Grimes, mandolin player Doug Hudson, keyboardist Riley Osborn, and steel guitarist Cindy Cashdollar. Hanke handles lead vocals and accompanies himself on the acoustic guitar.

Hanke is one of those artists who moves across several styles and merges them together upon occasion. While he is mainly a country/folk artist, he ventures in a folk-rock direction every once in awhile. His songs are personal and introspective, and could be considered Americana.

He is a precise lyricist, one who is able to paint pictures with words. The title song moves in a country direction with some nice mandolin work in support. It is a biting song about his grandfather who labored all of his life in a factory until the work was outsourced to foreign countries. And so it is a worker's song about unemployment and economic hardship.

"Burn It Down," one of two collaborative songwriting efforts with Hanke sharing credit here with Sarah Pierce, is an unforgiving and angry song about a small Texas town. "Hope Your Dreams Come True," co-written with George Ensle, is probably the album's best track as it deals with the hope a father passes down to his son. Hanke even includes a picture of his father as a little leaguer next to the enclosed lyrics.

He reaches back to his formative years for "Mr. Slim's Blues." The song is a remembrance of simpler days, in which Hanke recalls an 85 year old neighbor of his who used to tell stories and play Muddy Waters tunes while taking a little nip now and then.

Eric Hanke is one of those young artists who is always on the road playing his music. Factory Man is a fine introduction to that music.

Read more: - The Seattle Post

"WXLV quote"

He not only translates inspirations into songs as the best writers do, but he manages to touch on disparate but memorable details of life such as baseball, old cars, and heroes of bygone eras like Mickey Mantle. Listen to “Hope Your Dreams Come True.” Inevitably you’ll find something to relate to in Hanke’s well crafted, well delivered tunes. - Jim Hynes- WXLV radio

"KFAN-Texas Rebel Radio PD Dawn Dale on "Factory Man""

“At KFAN, there are certain artists that are standards - those we know before cracking the case we'll add to the library immediately. Eric Hanke is most certainly one of those artists! With rich lyrics, backed by heart and soul, and delivered with a smooth vocal, Eric is a favorite reach in our radio shows. With "Factory Man", Eric has reached deep into his talent and brought forth his best work yet! “ - Dawn Dale, PD-Texas Rebel Radio

"KSYM and Third Coast Music's Dave Ludwig on "Factory Man""

Eric shows his growth in songwriting on this new cd. From singer/songwriter melodies to full band rockin' tunes, Eric delivers a solid group of songs. With top notch production from Merel Bregante, this one is a keeper. - KSYM Third Coast Music- San Antonio

"Eric Hanke's Factory Man Reviewed in Midwest Record"

Whether Guy Clark or Gary P. Nunn, there’s a load of Texas troubadours that don’t have to write hits to write great stuff.  Michigan man Hanke moved to South Padre Island and fit right into the tradition and lineage. With a producer and band mate that offers him access to first class players, everyone hunkered down and made a first class record.  A 20th century folk/rocker with 21st century Americana leanings, his thoughts reflect the times but his sound and fury are right in the moment.  Solid, smoking singer/songwriter set by a cat that is raising the bar for everyone.  Check it out. – Chris Spector - Midwest Record-Chicago, IL

"Michael Corcoran Quote"

“Hanke’s guerilla showcase at the 18th Annual Folk Alliance in Austin was a stand out. He has a great back up band and his breezy roots style is reminiscent of Jackson Browne and the Eagles.”
-Michael Corcoran, Austin American Statesman - Austin American Statesman

"Marcia Campbell-XM 171"

"Eric Hanke...A true singer/songwriter. Autumn Blues takes you on a musical journey that you don't want to end. Eric's genuine voice and deep lyrics seemlessly move from one emotion to another. Eric, thanks for the journey!"
-Marcia Campbell - America's Truckin' Sweetheart
XM Satellite Radio Channel 171 - Open Road - XM Radio Quote

"For the Sake of the Song"

Eric Hanke's Autumn Blues (Ten Foot Texan) is an impressive debut that mixes country and folk in a way that confirms his status as a Native Texan. With a batch of songs almost too evocative to have come from a young songwriter's pen and dynamic production from Merel Bregante, Hanke crafts a sound that falls somewhere between Slaid Cleaves and Bruce Robison and one that's well worth checking out. - Austin Chronicle-Jim Caligiuri

"Eric Hanke- Autumn Blues"

I am by no means a folk music aficionado. I am, however, a connoisseur of fine Texas Country tunage, so every once in a while I happen across a folkie who really catches my ear. That recently happened with Eric Hanke. I had XM 12, satrad’s true Texas Music torchbearer, playing in my of- fice, when a song came on that made my ears take note. I thought I was hearing a new Slaid Cleaves song, but I realized within a few bars that it wasn’t Slaid, and, upon closer inspection of XM’s scrolling titles, I saw that it was some guy named Eric Hanke. Well, anyone who sounds enough like Slaid Cleaves to make me do a doubletake is okay by me, so I went to the internet to do some research. As it turns out, Eric is a singer-songwriter out of Austin, so, without further ado, I purchased his CD, Autumn Blues. The album starts out with “Lonely Road,” a catchy little tune that I have caught myself singing in my radio-free truck. From there we are moved smoothly into the title track, which features some gloriously understated backing vocals by the ubertalented Sarah Pierce and Denice Franke, and then into Eric’s take on war, aptly titled “The War,” which is written from the perspective of a young man who is facing the prospect of a premature death in the name of freedom. Rich Brotherton kicks in with a couple of short but musically significant guitar solos during that song. After the darkness of “The War” we are treated to the lighter “Flora,” and then it’s on to my favorite song on the album, the faster-paced “Ride Away,” which includes some nice mandolin work by Paul Glasse and lap steel by Cindy Cashdollar (currently touring with Van Morrison and often sits in with Cooder Graw). This song is brilliant because it showcases Eric’s talent as a poet (“A norther blew across the land, bringing in the cold. Darkness took the desert sand, as hell came for the old.”), while also providing some rich instrumental and vocal supporting tracks. Other standout songs on the record are “Smoke Through an Old Screen Door” about a lost love, “Broken Dreams” with fiddlin’ by Carrie Rodriguez and mandolin by Doug Hudson, and the record’s closer, “The Sun’s Gonna Shine,” a song of hope in trouble times. Merel Bregante, who produced the record with Eric, is a veteran of the music industry, a transplanted hippie who came to Texas from L.A. many years ago, after stints as the drummer for Loggins & Messina and The Dirt Band (you remember when they dropped the “Nitty Gritty” for a few years, don’t you?). Judging from this record, he has quite a knack for assembling talented supporting players and inserting them into the right places, allowing them to shine without overshadowing the principal performer. Eric Hanke’s Autumn Blues is a laidback journey through the mind of a talented young man. It is at times soothing, at times thought-provoking, but always musically satisfying. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and, I have to say that I hope Eric has the blues in the spring, summer, and winter, too, because I’m ready for more! (Review by Steve Circeo) - Texas Music Times

"Sing Out! Magazine Review"

A very strong debut. Eric Hanke wrote all 11 songs, and they're a journeyman's effort throughout. Excellent support from top Austin players illuminating the songs beautifully. Opener "Lonely Road” deals with loneliness in a crowd. No new topic, but Eric's take feels fresh and true. In "The War" a lad deals with his brother being shipped out to Iraq just as the neighbor's boy comes home in a box. "Ride Away" is the last thoughts of one of the Wild West's last surviving outlaws. Fine clean production.

Fall 2006 * Vol. 50 # 3
- Sing Out! Magazine

"Top 10 Albums of 2006"

XL Music
Best of Music 2006: Clifford's gone, but his influence on Austin's live music scene remains

By Michael Corcoran
Thursday, December 28, 2006

Losing Clifford Antone to a heart attack in May — followed by a trail of tributes — was the story of the year on the local music scene. Not since the deaths of Stevie Ray Vaughan in 1990 and Doug Sahm in '99 have Austin music fans mourned so significantly. Only Willie Nelson's death would've hit Austin harder.

Sung Park
(enlarge photo)

Clifford Antone, the club owner who was instrumental in building Austin's live music scene by making blues greats accessible to everyone, died in May.

The people loved Antone because he made everyone he met — and he met 'em all — feel welcome. In a town full of music fans he was the biggest, but he did more than just love the blues more than anyone else: He made the greats of the genre accessible to everybody.

Antone didn't leave behind his music. He left behind your memories, of sitting at the feet of Muddy Waters, dancing wildly to Maceo Parker, giving Albert Collins an aisle so he could play his guitar right in the middle of Guadalupe Street.

The outpouring included a city-sponsored memorial at the Palmer Events Center that drew more than 3,000 people, as well as scattered grousing from those who wondered why the city would put on a free tribute to a two-time resident in the federal penitentiary for marijuana busts.

It was a sad time, but it also made you feel proud of an Austin music scene that came together like family at a tragedy.

This year saw the best country album of 2006 produced in Austin by Lloyd Maines and Ray Benson. James Hand's "The Truth Will Set You Free" (Rounder) devalued Hank Williams comparisons with timeless songwriting and a haunting voice. In interviews, the 54-year-old Hand proved to be as interesting as his music; his upcoming documentary should take his 40-years-in-the-making success story to the next level.

It was also a big year for Longview native Sunny Sweeney, who has been playing in front of people for only two years, yet signed a deal with Nashville's Big Machine label to distribute "Heartbreaker's Hall of Fame" nationally. Nobody's ever gone faster from the Poodle Dog Lounge to the prominent dotted line.

Sweeney's Big Machine labelmate Jack Ingram is 2006's comeback player of the year. The guy practically invented Pat Green and Cory Morrow, playing to thousands of kids in Texas college towns and selling tens of thousands of CDs from the merch booth. But dropped by Sony in 2002, the Lakeway resident was in heavy career limbo. He fought his way through it, toured heavily and got another chance in Nashville. Next thing you know, Ingram's got the No. 1 song on the country charts with "Wherever You Are."

Alejandro Escovedo rebounded in 2006 from near death with the moody and stirring "Boxing Mirror," produced by John Cale. Sadly, Jesse Taylor, one of Austin's all-time greatest guitarists, lost his battle with hepatitis C.

Austin also mourned the loss of Don Walser, the beloved country yodeler, and a pair of extraordinary lounge keyboardists, Bobby Doyle and Jay Clark.

As Austin starts to look more and more like Hip Town, U.S.A., there are more big stories about the music scene's future than its past. As early as summer '08, a new, expanded Stubb's complex will unveil a 1,400-capacity indoor venue at the corner of Ninth and Red River streets. The outdoor stage will be repositioned to face west, which is welcome news for residents along the Waller Creek corridor who will tell you that getting free live music is not as good as getting free cable.

"Austin City Limits," TV's longest running live music program, will move into its new $15 million home on West Second Street, across from City Hall, in time for the 2010 season. Willie Nelson, the first artist to appear on "ACL," will co-own the 2,000-capacity studio/nightclub, which is expected to be booked by Clear Channel's concert spinoff Live Nation. The Austin Music Hall plans a $5 million makeover that would expand capacity from 3,000 to 4,000.

How will the small clubs, the lifeblood of the local music scene, be able to compete? A topic for future year-end wrap-ups.

I've seen 22 years of change in Austin, and the place has never been so physically altered in a 12-month period as in 2006. Thanks to SXSW and national music magazines — but no thanks to the lamest MTV "Real World" season ever — the secret has long been out.

Real estate, not live music, is the biggest game in town right now. Condos are hip, man, not combos. It's almost 2007, and the Austin we fell in love with is an aging housewife with Botox lips, a Vicodin script and a thing for young guys with beards. We could be living in Portland, Chapel Hill or San Diego.

Sometimes, though. Sometimes there is a kind of magic that can only be felt in Austin. Sometimes this is a city of its own soul, like when a former club owner is laid to rest like royalty.

Michael Corcoran's Local Top 10 of 2006

1. James Hand, "The Truth Will Set You Free" (Rounder)

2. Alejandro Escovedo, "The Boxing Mirror" (Back Porch)

3. The Black Angels, "Passover" (Light In the Attic)

4. The Gourds, "Heavy Ornamentals" (Eleven Thirty)

5. Carrie Rodriguez, "Seven Angels On a Bicycle" (Trainwreck)

6. Ian McLagan and the Bump Band, "Spiritual Boy" (Maniac)

7. Mother Truckers, "Broke Not Broken" (Bosco)

8. Eric Hanke, "Autumn Blues" (Ten Foot Texan)

9. Ray Wylie Hubbard, "Snake Farm" (Sustain)

10. Dave Insley, "Here With You Tonight" (DIR) - Austin American Statesman-XL

"Folk Musicians Get Cozy at Conference"

Hotel Rooms become concert halls for alliance's annual gathering.

(from Michael Corcoran's Tuesday Feb. 14th 2006 article about Folk Alliance)

"I'm really glad they held it in Austin this year," Round Rock's Eric Hanke said after he encored in Room 1052 Sunday night with a spirited cover of "White Freight Liner Blues" in tribute to the song's writer, Townes Van Zandt, whose "For the Sake of the Song" provided the conference theme.

"I had heard about all the hotel room shows," the alliance first-timer said after his set, "but until you experience it firsthand, you don't really know how cool it is." - Austin American Statesman-Michael Corcoran

"Dave Obermann-Folkways"

"Nice album. Good songs, solid melodies, fine picking and production. Hey - what's not to like."
-Dave Obermann KUT 90.5, Austin, TX - KUT

"John Crossett"

Following in the Texas singer/songwriter tradition that stretches from Willie Nelson through Guy Clark and Robert Earl Keen to the late Townes Van Zant, newcomer Eric Hanke has big shoes to fill. That he does not completely manage to do so is of lesser importance than his effort. As debut albums go, Autumn Blues shows promise, indicating that someday Hanke might join that august group of Texas singer/songwriters.

Autumn Blues is a bit of an uneven ride. At its worst it is a bit predictable. At its best, during such songs as the title track, "The War" (a protest song that’ll make you ask why we get involved at all), my personal favorite "Smoke Through An Old Screen Door" (which will remind you of a young John Prine's work), and "Sun’s Gonna Shine," the music glows with direction and assurance. Producer/engineer/drummer Merle Bregante uses a multitude of instruments and still manages a sparse, folksy sound.

Sonically, this disc is as uneven as the songs it contains. Hanke’s voice is clearly reproduced, with a fair amount of three-dimensional effect, but the harmony vocalists get lost in the mix. Acoustic instruments fare well, especially the guitars. Bregante’s drums don’t quite have the snap of real life, and the bass is the weakest point. While there, it is not well defined.

Still, Autumn Blues remains a fair initial effort that, again, shows promise. -


"Factory Man"-2010
"Autumn Blues"-2006



Eric Hanke is the kind of guy who naturally stands out in a crowd. For one thing, he’s usually the tallest one in it, unless it’s a gathering of hoops players. But he also stands out among his singer-songwriters peers in Austin and elsewhere — not only because of his resolute refusal to follow Texas or Nashville trends, but for his way with a lyric, his ability to move easily among multiple musical styles, the respect he’s earned from players he counts as influences and mentors.

With his second release, “Factory Man,” Hanke proves the praise he drew for his maiden outing, 2006’s “Autumn Blues” — including comparisons to Texas’ finest songsmiths and a top 10 of the year pronunciation by the Austin American-Statesman’s Michael Corcoran, the dean of Austin music critics — was well justified.

Both were produced by Hanke’s friend and bandmate, Merel Bregante, who gained fame drumming for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Loggins & Messina. The players include Bregante’s wife, singer Sarah Pierce; guitarist Kenny Grimes; keyboardist Riley Osbourn; steel player Cindy Cashdollar … names that resonate far beyond Austin’s borders. But for Hanke, it’s not about pedigree, it’s about honesty. Soul. Feeling. It’s about appreciating Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson and Townes Van Zandt but loving classic rock, too, and knowing that songs about beer and trucks might sell records, but that doesn’t mean they’re good. Even if they are by fellow Texans.

“Factory Man,” on Hanke’s own Ten Foot Texan Records label, is filled with songs borne of experience, populated by real people. Hanke adheres to the “write what you know” school; for him, BS just won’t fly. The best grooves come from what you know, too, and this album is a great blend of a little bit ’o soul, some blues, some country, rock, folk … etc. Americana. It’s more electric than “Autumn Blues,” but it’s not ragged, in-your-face rawk. It’s cool, yet warm — and that’s not a contradiction. With Hanke’s high tenor (which sounds not unlike that of his neighbor, Slaid Cleaves) supported by just-right harmonies and instrumentation throughout, it’s a natural progression for an artist who’s not afraid of taking his time to get it right.

He spent half of the time between albums living on South Padre Island, learning to play electric guitar, gigging in bars and hanging out on the beach. Hurricane Ike motivated him to head back to Austin with his trusty dog, Waylon, and record again.

Born in Michigan and raised in Dallas, Hanke likes to say he attended the Merel Bregante school of sensitivity and artist development. Actually, he’s got a bachelor’s degree in German and international studies, but even PhDs know most of the important stuff isn’t learned in classrooms. Musicians tend to start their lessons with somebody else’s record collection; Hanke had his dad’s. But his very first album was a Willie Nelson disc that accompanied the record player his grandparents gave him when he was 3.

He didn’t get serious about his own playing till his late teens, but when the bug took hold, it bit hard. He started delving more deeply into the work of artists he admired, and learning the craft of writing, though the skill clearly comes naturally to him. Hanke etches vivid details into each story he tells on “Factory Man,” starting with the slightly countryish, mandolin-laden title song.

“It’s a workingman’s tune,” Hanke says. “On the back of the album, there’s a picture of my grandfather when he was 17 years old in Germany, when he got his apprenticeship as a tool-and-die maker.” His grandfather emigrated to the states and, like so many of his generation, spent almost his entire adult life working at one plant.

“That song is about when that place, after so many years, was closing down and outsourcing all of the jobs to China and Brazil,” Hanke explains. “At the time, I wrote it about that once place in particular [well before Detroit’s meltdown], but it became about unemployment in general and the hard economic times people are going through.”

Turning a singular subject into one with a universal connection is another measure of a true songwriter. But there’s something else that separates Hanke from the pack: his Midwestern-born work ethic.

“You have to treat being a musician like a job,” he says. “If you’re not doing shit, it won’t get done. If you wanna drop acid and start a drum circle in South Austin, go do it. But it’s not going to get you anywhere.”

That’s why Hanke recently went to Nashville to pair up with other writers in the Carnival Music Publishing stable. (Carnival, it should be noted, is owned by Frank Liddell, Miranda Lambert’s producer and Lee Ann Womack’s husband.) He’s not sure whether more sessions will follow, but in the meantime, he’s got two collaborations on this album: one with Pierce (“Burn It Down,” inspired, he says, by the small-mindedness in the Texas town his girlfriend’s from) and one with George Ensle.

“He’s one of the top tr