Eric Ziegenhagen
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Eric Ziegenhagen

Band Folk Acoustic


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"New City Chicago - January 2005"

"'You're Talking to the Wrong Guy' [is] a collection of fourteen folk songs played on a four-stringed acoustic guitar, sung with true Midwest intimacy. 'Can't Hold Love at Bay' begins the record and puts you next to a dirty, boat-ridden lake down south, lke an opening to one of those movies, when you're trying to establish Southern climate. Ziegenhagen sounds a little like Leonard Cohen but comes off more lighthearted, with his lyrics bouncing from the extremes of weather to the disappointment of love. When it's all said and done, Ziegenhagen shows how to balance personal lyrics with the general mouthful that appeals to everyone, and 'You're Talking to the Wrong Guy' exists on its own as a record of despondency that wisely never takes itself too seriously."
- New City Chicago

"Chicago Reader - Monika Kendrick"

"His own lyrics are imaginative, as you might expect...He sings a lot about cold and snow, as is appropriate for a Great Lakes guy, using inclement weather to launch into a sort of atmospheric poetry of extremity in which the characters dodge monsters and love each other in the same kind of dreamy haze."
- Chicago Reader

"Chicago Reader - Profile -"

See for a PDF of a lengthy feature profile (3000 words) of Eric Ziegenhagen published in January 2005. - Chicago Reader

"Pulse of the Twin Cities -- March 2005"

"Chicago's Eric Ziegenhagen (a native Minneapolitan) makes strikingly unconventional folk music on his debut longplayer, You're Talking to the Wrong Guy, opting for a rarely seen approach to acoustic guitar playing (he writes and performs on a four-string nylon-string open-tuned guitar slung flat across his lap). The unconventional approach may have been born out of necessity...but it yields truly rich results, a sweetly plucked sound that feels oddly full in its nakedness. With a warbly voice strangely reminiscent of outsider music legend Daniel Johnston in its boyish innocence, Ziegenhagen has turned plenty of heads in search of something new in his current place of residence. Come on down and see what all the fuss is about." -- Rob Van Alstyn, Pulse of the Twin Cities, 3/9/05
- Pulse of the Twin Cities

"Now Weekly (Toronto) - "NXNE Highlight""

"Moonlighting Chicago playwright Eric Ziegenhagen revelled in the small turnout, which suited the rec-room intimacy of his performance style. His self-effacing between-song banter was just as entertaining as the tunes he crooned, accompanying himself on his lap-strummed acoustic guitar...A festival highlight." -Tim Perlich - Now Weekly (Toronto)

"Dusted Magazine - April 2005"

Like his occasional collaborator Edith Frost, Chicago workhorse-songwriter Eric Ziegenhagen (man, how did his forebears get through Ellis Island with that one?) writes melodies that could date back a hundred years. Lyrically, he’s less neurotic – when he sings “You Can’t Hold Love At Bay,” he sounds sincere, and the melancholia on tunes such as “Espresso Machine” remains well between the lines, making nice with the dry humor.

Ziegenhagen recorded You’re Talking to the Wrong Guy with his acoustic guitar, his voice and little else. His execution is simple and clean – his only company comes from occasional violin, and, like everything else here, it’s loathe to show off. He claims a debt to Robyn Hitchcock, but eschews all the glammy flourish of Eye and the other mid-period Hitch albums that clearly inspired him most.

Eric Ziegenhagen’s in a weird bind. Like the best, lonesome neo-folkies under the Thrill Jockey umbrella, his voice cracks like a teenager’s, and he’s prone to brittle solecisms. Some of his numbers (e.g. “Is That Star Wars?”) bear the mark of a fellow who writes glancing around his room, getting broken up about everything he sees and not knowing quite how to articulate it. He’s no Bill Callahan, though – he’s soaked up enough craftsmanship to show he craves attention, and not of the negative kind. He’s close to the middle of the road, but not so close he doesn’t quake when he senses traffic approach.

I trust Eric Ziegenhagen will gravitate toward one pole or the other, given time. Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised if I found myself pointing at this humble debut, insisting it reflects his vision more honestly than anything else in his catalog.
-Emerson Dameron - Dusted

"Fufkin - December 2004"

Ziegenhagen is a Chicago-area folk singer who puts his guitar in his lap and picks out his simple and direct tunes, in a voice that is limited but quite expressive. On this album, he paints tiny portraits in two to four minutes, akin to artists like Ron Sexsmith and Chris Hickey. Unlike those two, Ziegenhagen's music doesn't really enter into the spheres of pop and rock. Not that it needs to, as his gentle songs are charming and engaging. There is just a wee bit of backwoods in his friendly voice. He stretches that voice beyond its limits, albeit intentionally, on "Can't Hold Love at Bay". Each verse is like another pithy journal entry. The tune is a variation on some old Hank Williams song (I'm thinking "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"), as Ziegenhagen occasionally goes to falsetto range, while singing nuggets like: "The sheriff cruses by in his Chevrolet/while local boys drive round and round/you can't hold love at bay". Elizabeth Lindau of Chicago up-and-comers Canasta provides some lovely violin accompaniment. Now, Ziegenhagen doesn't even need that much detail in the lyrics to be compelling – working again with Landau, "Is That Star Wars?" is barely a mantra, as he pretty much repeats the title phrase, sometimes asking "what is that/who is that/where did you get that." The pretty music and the sincere vocal make it work. Still, that song is the outlier. Instead, songs like "Huevos Rancheros" are more typical. He tells the story of a band that liked to "play country music/in an ironic way." As they band travels around, it goes on "an unsuccessful hunt for the authentic." Man, what a great line. This song sounds like a subtle dig at hipsters, yet it's done so gently, that it's never mean. Hmm...maybe this is the beginning of some nouveau empathetic neo-folk genre. Whatever, this is really nice music.
-Michael Bennett


"You're Talking to the Wrong Guy" (self-released, 2005)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Chicago-based Eric Ziegenhagen plays spare, evocative songs that tread the sweet and weird ground between Jonathan Richman and David Lynch. His first CD "You're Talking to the Wrong Guy" was recorded in one marathon session by Dan Dietrich (Andrew Bird, The Redwalls, Head of Femur) at Wall to Wall Recording in Chicago and features Elizabeth Lindau (of Canasta) on violin. The CD has garned praise from the Chicago Reader, New City Chicago, Dusted Magazine, and more, and a track was recently selected for NPR's All Songs Considered. In Chicago, Eric has performed at The Hideout, Schubas, Uncommon Ground, and elsewhere, and Tim Perlich of NOW Toronto called his NXNE performance "a festival highlight."

A casual and conversational fellow with opaque songs, Eric Ziegenhagen works in the tradition of hard-to-pin-down individual artists like Leonard Cohen, Robyn Hitchcock, Vic Chestnutt, and Mary Margaret O'Hara (all big influences).

A noted playwright and stage director, Eric was singled out by American Theatre magazine (the Rolling Stone of the theater world) in 1999 as one of 15 up-and-coming U.S. theater artists under 30.
Ziegenhagen writes and performs on a four-string nylon-string open-tuned guitar slung flat across his lap. The story: Eric's dad owned a guitar when Eric was growing up. Papa Ziegenhagen would let little Eric play the guitar as long as he kept it in the guitar case, and so he learned how to play that way.