California banjo songstress ERIN INGLISH is a unique songwriter and heartfelt performer. Like the late John Hartford, she is a solo act with a voice, a banjo, some body percussion, and an original repertoire of songs that range from joyful to poignant and everything in between. This internationally-touring, banjo-wielding woman presents a “raw, sweet and sincere Emmy Lou-ish sound…[and] she makes the banjo sound like a musical instrument” (fan, North Carolina). From the thoughtful and conscientious messages in her songwriting, to her magnetic and entertaining stage-presence, Erin is a consummate performer and humanistic storyteller. A graduate of mechanical engineering, Erin has lived abroad for four years in five countries working in sustainable development and green building consulting. Her songwriting reflects her worldly travels and grounding passion for environmental conscientiousness, social justice and artistic expression. In April, 2013, Erin released her first solo album titled, “A Melody So Sweet,” and then toured – by bicycle – the entire coast of California to celebrate Earth Month as part of what would become her annual Earth*Bike*Banjo tour. The next year, Earth*Bike*Banjo 2014 rode from Portland to San Luis Obispo debuting a banjo puppet music for kids called “The Good Folk Show.” Erin is also the organizer the Banjo Babes Calendar & Album – an annual collaborative project amongst lady banjo players aimed at supporting and promoting independent artists – featuring a fully-produced compilation album and a fun, silly, thematic calendar. For the second season (coming up January 2015), Erin will be touring with Duncan Phillips, son of Utah Phillips, as part of his “Long Memory” tour celebrating the life and times of Utah. While at home in the countryside in California, Erin teaches banjo, guitar and ukelele to kids of all ages, and believes in trying to contribute to making the world a better place through music. Namaste. (www.erininglish.com)
Born and raised on the Central Coast of California, Erin has been surrounded by Americana music all of her life. Having grown up in a household of musicians (her mother played viola, and her father is a professional accordion player with the San Luis Obispo-based quintet phenomena, Cafe Musique), she originally chose to be a student of classical singing. For years, Erin was dedicated to opera and musical theater, but also spent a great deal of time entertaining the left brain as she was on a robotics team in high school and found herself drawn to math and science as well. She picked up the banjo at the age of 17 when she moved to Berkeley to become an engineering student, and subsequently studied folk and bluegrass music with numerous great Bay Area musicians, such as Avram Siegel, Bill Evans, Jody Stecher and Laurie Lewis.
Erin did not take the most direct path to a musical career, and in spite of the nagging desire to bunk classes and play the banjo, in 2007 she earned a degree in mechanical engineering and begun her career as a sustainable and energy efficient design consultant. She worked in the engineering field for five years after college, playing music on the side, but made the decision to “retire” to play music full-time in 2012. Erin Inglish’s songwriter is a product of her life experience, and her informed and articulate songwriting is evidence.
While studying at U.C. Berkeley, Erin was knee-deep in engineering studies and otherwise obsessively dedicated to playing banjo locally in the Bay Area. Her second year there, Erin teamed up with her now former band-mate and ace guitar picker, Joe Ridout. They recorded an album in 2005 titled Hoi Polloi (greek for “The Commonfolk”). They released their CD at their debut show at the world-famous Freight and Salvage Coffee House in Berkeley, California, which was also a fundraiser for the local non-profit chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World. During college, Erin served on the board of this non-profit, non-government organization, spending over 13 months living in Mumbai, India, doing field research and community training on point-of-use water treatment in slum communities. Wherever Erin’s travels take her, she always has the banjo with her and enjoyed sharing music with musicians along the way!
Erin most recently worked as energy manager and sustainability coordinator for the Lucia Mar Unified School District, and was known for being a local sustainability champion by day and a folk musician by night. Right out of college, she lived for three years in the Balkans and worked as the Regional Sustainability Advisor for Colliers International, Southeast Europe, pioneering energy and environmental consulting services for the company’s real estate consulting service line in 10 countries. Erin was a catalyst for the development of Green Building Councils in Croatia, Albania, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia. She carried out energy efficiency and sustainability research for the World Bank and internally for Colliers, and authored a book titled, “The Potential for Green Building in the Balkans.”
From 2010 to 2012, Erin collaborated with many wonderful San Luis Obispo county artists since returning to live in the USA, including a duet project with crooner Jody Mulgrew as Heartbreak Hill, and an energetic “bluesgrass” band, Chuck Johnson Spur, together with Michael “Mic” Hocking (bass) and three guys from Dan Curcio’s sensational Still Time – Nick Bilich (guitar), John Vucinich (drums), and Chris “Haircut” Arntzen (mandolin) .
In 2011, Erin was joined by singer-songwriter Gabrielle Louise for a limited and loved appearance as the progressive folk duo Inglish & Louise during the Fall of 2012.
In celebration of Earth Month 2013, Erin toured – with her banjo – by bicycle along the coast of California. The “Earth*Bike*Banjo” tour rode over 1000 miles from Arcata down to San Diego over the entire month of April, playing scheduled gigs in the evenings and visiting schools, local organizations, farms, bike coalitions, etc. during the days to talk about sustainability and share music.
In March, April and May of 2014, an expanded Earth*Bike*Banjo tour team took to the road again to raise awareness about sustainability and to share folk music and the joy of live performance – this time pedaling 1000 miles from Portland, Oregon, to San Luis Obispo, California. Earth*Bike*Banjo 2014 debuted a one-of-a-kind show targeted at elementary school kids featuring music by Erin Inglish and a mobile puppet theater show designed and performed by Portland-based visual artist Anna Cosper.
Erin will tour again with Duncan Phillips, son of Utah Phillips, in January 2015 as part of his “Long Memory” tour sharing songs, stories and sentiments celebrating the life and times of Utah.