Eric McFadden Trio (EMT)

Eric McFadden Trio (EMT)


A veteran of celebrated underground bands including Liar, the Eric McFadden Experience, Alien Lovestock and IZM, Eric McFadden's sinister songs, vampiric vocals and flamenco-rock guitar improvisations have made him an icon along America's western seaboard.


Like protagonists from some epic western novel, EMT arrives on the contemporary music scene preceded by anxious rumors and curious anticipation.

A veteran of celebrated underground bands including Liar, the Eric McFadden Experience, Alien Lovestock and IZM, Eric McFadden's sinister songs, vampiric vocals and flamenco-rock guitar improvisations have made him an icon along America's western seaboard. Lest you dismiss the preceding as absurd hyperbole, consider the fact that McFadden has performed and recorded with the lordly likes of Bo Diddley, the late Joe Strummer, Widespread Panic, psychobilly rockers The Reverend Horton Heat, blues troubadour Keb Mo', Rolling Stone Ron Wood, Primus kahuna Les Claypool and others. He was voted "Best Guitarist" by the New Mexico Weekly and "Guitarist of the Year" by San Francisco's Zero magazine. And in 2000, McFadden was recruited as a touring member of George Clinton's P-Funk All Stars, a distinction that thrusts McFadden into the pantheon of funk-rock guitar idols.

Now, McFadden has teamed with acoustic bassist James Whiton and drummer Paulo Baldi to form a trio whose electro-acoustic sound, impressionistic songs and virtuoso antics suggest an obscenely voluptuous hybrid of the Clash, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Black Sabbath, Q.O.T.S.A., Tom Waits, Django Reinhardt and spaghetti western composer Sergio Leone.

Indeed, EMT recalls a now hard-to-imagine time when songwriting involved the realization of some well-conceived personal vision, and when musical mastery and experimentation were the order of the day. In James Whiton, McFadden has found an ideal musical foil. Performing on amplified acoustic double bass, Whiton employs techniques thoroughly unique to the instrument -- percussive slaps, bowed flourishes reminiscent of a string orchestra, and electronic effects like wah, distortion and synth pedals. Drummer Paulo Baldi reconciles blistering rock rhythms with a sensitivity and feel honed on stages with some of the country’s finest musicians. At the center of this elegant musical equation is McFadden himself. A guitar hero in an anti-heroic time, the guitarist combines rapid-fire rock improvisations with luxuriant gypsy jazz runs, quicksilver bluegrass fills, romantic neo-classical chords, hardcore R&B rhythms and heartrending mandolin trills.

Given the band's all-things-considered approach, it's not surprising that McFadden finds it difficult to describe the Trio's sound. "It has elements of other things I've done," McFadden says. "It's got the rock energy of past projects like Liar and Angry Babies. It's got the carnivalesque gypsy Latin thing of Eric McFadden Experience and Alien Lovestock. There's a little of the dark Americana vibe. But I think for the most part, it's a rock band."

The Eric McFadden Trio saga begins in the mysterious environs of McFadden's native New Mexico, where mother Victoria (an original member of the Fuggs), and father Geody fueled the guitarist's musical passions. By his teens, the budding guitarist and songwriter was absorbing everything from The Beatles, Beethoven and Miles Davis, to the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Hank Williams and the Clash. "I went through this time where I listened to so much music, it was just overwhelming," McFadden recalls.

Unbeknownst to McFadden, James Whiton was also cutting his musical teeth in the Albuquerque area. The son of a concert bassist, Whiton was following in his mother's classically-trained footsteps when he was blindsided by Charles Mingus, Miles Davis’ Live Evil, and prog-rock bands like King Crimson and Primus. But while jazz and virtuosic rock remain an influence, classical still comprises the foundation of Whiton's disciplined style. "I grew up playing classical music exclusively for the first 18 years of my life," the bassist explains, "it’s ingrained in me to hear the bass fulfilling certain roles harmonically and rhythmically, much as it would in a symphony." A recent review compared James’ playing to “an amplified ‘cello from hell,” a characterization based on his inventive and unique approach to a traditional instrument.

Paulo Baldi, a long time musical comrade of McFadden's and one of the Bay's most in-demand drummers, has toured and recorded extensively with Eric in such notorious Bay area outfits as Liar, Alien Lovestock and Faraway Brothers. It is not surprising, given Paulo's prowess and expertise, that he was recruited by Primus kahuna, Les Claypool, as the drummer for Les Claypool's Frog Brigade as well as national superstars, Cake. Baldi has released three recordings with his own band, Deadweight, Bay Area heroes who are signed by Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles record label.

The paths of these three musicians began converging in the early Nineties, when McFadden and Whiton formed a mutual admiration society in New Mexico. Though their budding friendship was cut short after they both moved from the Albuquerque area, the pair reunited in 2001 for some


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