Eric McFadden
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Eric McFadden

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Blues

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"Review: Eric McFadden Trio and the Vau de Vire Society"

Review: Eric McFadden Trio and the Vau de Vire Society

October 5, 20110


When Aria Entertainment teamed up San Franciso’s Vau de Vire Society with the Eric McFadden Trio and whole host of special guests at the DNA Lounge, they put on a pretty conclusive demonstration of the correct way to do burlesque. Vau de Vire was largely born out of the Bay Area’s thriving circus arts community and comes off like a punk rock take of Cirque du Soleil if it were performed at a strip club.

The show was centered around the band, with Vau de Vire slinking DNA Lounge’s industrial-chic staircases to do their act for a song or two before retreating backstage. When onstage they were a visual treat – girls in ornately revealing gothic costume writhed along the railings, and a lithe guy in loincloth, face covered in glitter, spun three plates on sticks in each hand...
This isn’t to say that when it was exclusively the band onstage, things suddenly got dull. The Eric McFadden Trio, featuring James Whiton on bass and Paulo Baldi (who also plays with Cake) on drums, is a monstrous power-trio. McFadden himself is an imposing stage presence – dreadlocks down to his chest, trademark bowler hat perched on his head, arms covered in tattoos. Wearing a dapper red shirt and unbuttoned black vest handing loose around his torso, he looks like a voodoo priest leading the band at a semi-formal vampire wedding.

Eric’s music starts from a place of punked-up swampy blues with a twinge of gothic metal, but from there quickly starts to go all over the place. The band jumps from groovy metal riffs to country rave-ups with astonishing consistency. What unites the divergent styles is both a consistent heaviness and McFadden’s virtuoso guitar playing. McFadden can play guitar like Eric Clapton if Clapton never became so famous that he could do whatever he wanted which, I guess, was to play old blues tunes with the guys he listened to when he was a teenager. When he wants to, McFadden can shred like Eddie Van Halen or do a mean Joe Walsh impression, but what’s great about the band is that, for the most part, he showed a lot of restraint. McFadden plays guitar like someone who has nothing to prove until a moment, ever so often, when he decided to teach a master class in shredding for about 30 seconds a time....

- The Bay Bridged, San Francisco, CA


"Eric McFadden : Let's Die Forever... Together..."

On ne parlera pas de coup de blues-rock pour éviter le contresens mais force est de constater que ce nouvel album d'Eric McFadden a une drôle de façon de respirer la joie de vivre. Sans être intrinsèquement sombre, Let's die forever... Together repose sur une ambiance très mélancolique, qui évoque l'humeur des heures avancées de la nuit où l'on se souvient des jours heureux. Tenez, vous connaissez sans doute ce sentiment étrange que l'on éprouve après une très bonne soirée avec des amis, où l'on a beaucoup parlé, pas mal refait le monde, un peu bu, et puis chacun est reparti, vous avez refermé la porte, et vous voilà seul avec les cendriers pleins, les verres vides, et un petit nœud à l'estomac.

Guitariste versatile et extrêmement talentueux, Eric McFadden n'impose pas son instrument à toutes les sauces et enrichit son son à la mandoline, qui donne une certaine clarté au milieu de passages obscurs. En revanche, sa voix chaude, troublante et un peu ténébreuse est bien en avant. On retrouve aussi ces instants qui évoquent les musiques tzigane, festive et mélancolique, ou hispanisante, du funk loufdingue, du riff-rock, ainsi que ce « vaudou-blues » qui est sa marque de fabrique… et parfois un peu tout ensemble (« Ship without a dock »).



Le disque démarre sur deux morceaux plutôt calmes et très mélodiques, avant de replonger, avec « Did you hear that sound ? », vers un de ces titres étranges dont McFadden a le secret, à la fois régal musical, jeu instrumental, et côté barré, instable. McFadden a un don pour les mélodies simples et touchantes, comme sur le poignant « Never go home ».

Let's Die Together… Forever évoque la musique d'un type qui trouve encore une raison de sourire quand tout va mal, ou qui ne parvient jamais à être tout à fait raccord avec la vie, à la joie voilée. Ainsi sur « Sick inside », qui montre un Eric McFadden très à l'aise dans la plus simple des configurations : guitare et voix. De même pour « Hole in my faith », ou encore « Ric's Lullaby », qui termine l'album de façon douce-amère.

Entre-temps, « Friend of a friend » fait un crochet par la country-folk, « Practical Man » finit en impro très jazz, « Black Holidays » offre un superbe duo guitare-violoncelle rehaussé d'un timbre vocal qui fait immanquablement penser à Leonard Cohen. Les refrains en duo apportent également une grande émotion (« Dead man's lullaby »). Eric McFadden poursuit ainsi son exploration tous azimuts. D'autant qu'une pelleté d'invités ouvrent une large palette de sons (trompette, accordéon, tuba, violon, violoncelle).

Notre grand dreadlocké offre pourtant avec Let's Die Forever... Together un album finalement très "rentré", sur lequel la facilité aurait justement consisté à lâcher le gros jeu, les gros solos, les rythmiques speedées (la batterie reste ici très discrète). Mais la simplicité (toute relative…) fait parfois bien plus mal et s'avère très touchante. Ce disque pénètre peu à peu, nécessitant un certain abandon.

Je n'arrête pas d'écrire que le quasi anonymat dans lequel baigne encore McFadden par ici justifierait à lui seul la création d'un nouveau tribunal pénal international pour punir ce scandale. Fantastique et d'une rare chaleur en live, surprenant sur album (ce type ne peut pas rester en place : voyez tous ses projets, ses collaborations : Eric Burdon, P-Funk All Stars, Living Colour, Bo Diddley…), McFadden demeure un animal libre et sauvage qui ne s'approche pas facilement. Pourtant, si vous osez suivre ses traces, vous avez de bonnes chances de finir par lui manger dans la main. - AMB France Music


"The Denver Post - EMT Denver, CO 12/12/09"

The Denver Post - EMT Denver, CO 12/12/09

"...McFadden is a six string virtuoso. His command of so many genres - yes, that was Dick Dale-flavored flamenco on a nylon-stringed classical acoustic guitar for the instrumental "The Ghost Maker" - is accentuated with meticulously crafted songs. There's the poppy twist on traditional psychadelia. Poetic yet sinisterly distorted punk. Rowdy rockabilly. Dark, foreboding grunge." - Denver Post


"Jimmy Leslie's Inside Take on Outside Lands"

Jimmy Leslie's Inside Take on Outside Lands

...If San Francisco is home to anyone approaching the abilities of a modern Hendrix, it's Eric McFadden. His trio held court all weekend in the cabaret-style Barbary Tent, which was a welcome addition. The former P-Funker's squalid gypsy rock sounded like Django meets Van Halen with guttural vocals." - Jimmy Leslie / Guitar Player Magazine 2009 - Guitar Player Magazine


"Eric McFadden Trio-Joy of suffering"

The Eric McFadden Trio's Joy of Suffering gets my vote as the best and most original guitar recording of the year so far. The overdriven tones McFadden conjures by amplifying an ancient Gibson archtop (as well as a classical nylon-string) are as unique as his Gypsy-jazz-inspired trills and carnival-noir tales of sin and redemption. His gruff, Tom Waits-like vocals fit perfectly with the dark and haunting nature of the material, which ranges from the slammin "Bury Our Sins" to the spaghetti-western feel of "Miranda" to the surf-music-gone-mad instrumental "The Ghost-Maker." McFadden has been an underground sensation for years - finally gaining recognition playing mandolin and guitar with George Clinton's P-Funk All Stars from 2000-2004 - and he realizes his potential on Joy of Suffering, a record that may just win him the legions of devotees an artist of his uncompromising character and unquestionable quality rightly deserves. Terminus.

Jimmy Leslie / Guitar Player Magazine, October 2005
- Guitar Player Magazine


"Eric McFadden -Dementia (Bad Reputation)"

McFadden croons and wails, growls and whimpers, and laughs with the conviction of a madman, effortlessly lacing country, blues, gypsy, flamenco, rock, metal, and punk together into one of this year's most exciting releases. (Tighe) San Francisco Bay Guardian / September '06 - San Francisco Bay Guardian


"Eric McFadden's got an axe to grind"

Since becoming George Clinton's guitar player, Eric McFadden has turned into one of San Francisco's phantom treasures, a rarely glimpsed dark angel of blurred guitar strings, swinging dreadlocks, and flashing teeth; but rest assured, McFadden's talents continue to mature even as his countenance remains frozen in time. McFadden began winning awards for his guitar playing decades ago, but his youthful flair would hardly appear as a glimmer next to the player he has become. Mercurial rock improvisations, sexy R&B rhythms, elegant gypsy jazz runs, whirling bluegrass fills, opulent classical chords, and deep European mandolin strains flow effortlessly from McFadden's fingertips while his dusty, road-parched voice embodies the crossroads where he must have sold his soul. Over the years, the Bay Area has been privy to a number of McFadden's musical permutations (Liar, IZM, the Eric McFadden Experience, and Alien Lovestock, to mention a few), but the Eric McFadden Trio, comprised of McFadden, longtime collaborator and drummer Paulo Baldi, and long-lost friend and bassist James Whiton, is the finest yet. In Whiton, McFadden has found his musical foil. A virtuoso of acoustic upright double bass, Whiton slaps, bows, maneuvers, and manipulates his instrument with orchestral precision and street-corner desperation, reflecting the sinister world of desert derelicts and carnival cons who have so long proliferated in McFadden's songs. -

-Silke Tudor / San Francisco Weekly - San Francisco Weekly


"Eric Burdon -Bonn, Germany"

Bring it on Home’ and ‘We gotta get outta this place’ are R&B classics given fresh life as is the bands mega-hit ‘House of the Rising Sun’ which escapes sounding like a tired time piece thanks to stunning lead guitar work on a classical guitar body from Mcfadden – fantastic stuff.
- unknown


"Bill Graham's 75th B-day bash Bill Graham's 75th Birthday Bash / 40th Anniversary of the Fillmore Acid Tests 01.07 & 01.08 :: The Fillmore :: San Francisco, CA"

Eric McFadden may have been the most well-known of all the participants in Sunday's show, having gigged regularly around the Bay Area for years with both his Trio and Experience, as well as being a member of George Clinton's P-Funk AllStars and Stockholm Syndrome, the brainchild of Jerry Joseph and Widespread Panic bass player Dave Schools. As always, McFadden did not disappoint, both in his own short set as well as during the various sit-in appearances he made throughout the rest of the night. Part raging rock star, part flamenco gypsy, McFadden is one of the most talented musicians in San Francisco today, bar none. Whenever he steps into the spotlight, McFadden turns up the energy level a few notches, and the unexpected becomes the norm. - Andy Tennille / Jambase -San Francisco
- Jambase


"Showin' that guitar who's boss"

Showin' that guitar who's boss, injecting his acoustic blues with a devilish pang that will set them coyotes howlin', fogging up the windshield of mainstream blues with his rattling, growly bass voice, this kindred spirit to Tom Waits and Nick Cave is spittin' some smoky, dark, americana gypsy-blues for the hopeless and undecided. However gloomy and lead-heavy his style can be, this man knows how to pick it up with a carnival twist, cousin to a danse macabre. This is one artist with an unflinching command of his muse; highly recommended.
(Derek Sivers - President, CD Baby, April, 2003) - CD Baby


Discography

Eric McFadden discography:

Angry Babies, From The Womb (Acid test 1989)
Angry Babies, Mr. Toyhead (Constitution 1992)
Liar, Devil Dog Road (Dog Patch 1995)
Eric McFadden Experience, Who's Laughing Now (Fortune 1996)
Liar, Gone Too Far (Toadophile 1997)
Alien Lovestock, We Are Prepared to Offer You (Vapor Lab 1997)
Faraway Bros., Long Ago and Far Away...(NMX 1998)
Eric McFadden and Stan Hirsch, Live at the Dingo (NMX 1998)
Eric McFadden Experience, Our Revels Now Are Ended (NMX 1999)
Faraway Bros., Start The Engine and Drive Away (NMX 1999)
Holy Smokes, Holy Smokes (NMX 1999)
Eric McFadden Solo, Eric McFadden (NMX 2000)
Alien Lovestock, Planet of the Fish (NMX 2000)
IZM, IZM (2001)
Eric McFadden Trio (live), The Un-Official Non-Japanese Import of the Not So Secret Northwest Club Shows (2002)
Eric McFadden , Devil Moon (Bad Reputation 2003)
Eric McFadden Trio, Diamonds to Coal (Window 2003)
Eric McFadden Trio, Joy of Suffering (Terminus 2005)
Eric McFadden & Wally Ingram, Alektorophobia (2005)
Eric McFadden, Dementia (Bad Reputation 2006)
Eric McFadden, Let's die forever...together (Bad Reputation (2007)
Eric McFadden Trio, Delicate thing (Bad Reputation 2008)
Eric McFadden, Train to Salvation (Bad Reputation 2009)
Eric McFadden, Pull a Rabbit From His Hat: Tribute Vol. 2 (Bad Reputation 2010)
Eric McFadden, Bluebird on Fire (Bad Reputation 2011)
Eric McFadden, Inside Out (Phyne 2012)

With Others:
Pat MacDonald, Begging her graces (Ulftone 1999)
Slang, The Bellweather Project (Terminus 2000)
Slang, More talk about tonight (Terminus 2004)
Stockholm Syndrome, Holy happy hour (Terminus 2004)
George Clinton & The P-Funk Allstars, HowlateDoUHave2BB4URAbsent (2006)
The Coup, Pick a bigger weapon (Anti-2006)

Photos

Bio

Eric McFadden is considered by many to be guitar virtuoso. Those who have experienced McFadden's magic, tend to feel transformed by the raw emotion emitted through his sublime mastery of rock and roll, and the many other genres in which he infuses it.
Eric toured Europe, Japan, Australia and the U.S. as mandolinist/guitarist with Funk legend George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic for over 3 years, and continues to collaborate with Clinton on outside projects. Eric spent a year and a half touring the world with Eric Burdon & The Animals, and recently finished recording on his new record. Eric continues to tour internationally with his primary band, The Eric McFadden Trio, which features bass phenomenon James Whiton (Tom Waits) and rotating cast of drummers including the great Paulo Baldi (Cake, Les Claypool).
Eric has released several albums through the French label, Bad Reputation. His latest release, "Bluebird on Fire", has received much acclaim, including a 5 star review in Crossroads Magazine.
Eric is also a member of supergroup, Stockholm Syndrome, which also includes notable players such as Dave Schools, Jerry Joseph, Wally Ingram and Danny Louis.
McFadden has also collaborated on stage and/or in the studio with the regal likes of Bo Diddley, blues troubadour Keb Mo’, prog-metalists Living Colour, Clash frontman Joe Strummer, Avant-punk jazz great Nels Cline (Wilco), Primus mastermind Les Claypool, Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli, drummer Zigaboo Modeliste, and guitarist, Leo Noccentelli, Master songsmith Pat MacDonald, experimental country punk pioneer Carla Bozulich, Joe Santiago and Dave Lovering of The Pixies, Widespread panic, Jackson Browne, Punk legend Mike Watt (Minutemen), The Reverend Horton Heat, Galactic and others.