Eric Dahl is from Seattle and his songs are sometimes moody and filled with rainswept imagery, but his roots reach to the sundrenched orchards of Chelan County and farther east to the Palouse and Colville where he was born. His earliest songs range from existence-questioning meditations with an urban outlook to celebrations of working people, their towns and farms.
Oxford University, Radcliffe Camera
A love of the language of storytelling and poetry took Eric to Oxford where he studied medieval literature and was awarded the Isis Poetry Prize. Returning to the Northwest, he drifted from the Suzzallo Library to singing in Seattle bars. After solo acoustic experiments and DIY collections on a portable 4-track, he found his way to the studio of John Hawk and produced his first CD. This first collection of songs (Knack for Negligence) was written over a ten-day period with imagery and stories from both sides of the state, the rural wheat and orchard lands to the east and the blurry haze of the urban Puget Sound region.
Eric moved to Austin in 1997 and his second CD, Whatever the Jungle, shows an immediate influence of the Texas landscape and its musicians, though mixed with west coast elements in songs like Tulare about Highway 101 in California or a brooding reminiscence of Vietnam (Thunder) set in his home town. During his first months in Austin, Dahl observed the scene, found friends and allies, and returned to the West Coast intermittently for continuing performances there. Then the dam broke and he began writing about his new environment. The title song is his first about Texas, with images of dry lightning, street dancing and Doppler radar. Another song (Season of Drought) pictures the impact of harsh weather conditions and the efforts of people ranging from water witches to believers praying as they kneeled in the parched bed of the Blanco River.
Austin with Terry Martin and John Hawk, 1999
Dahl continued to perform and record in Austin, bringing his original band mates when possible. His third CD, Live By Your Word comes from a time of continuous exploration with song types. His friendship with Grammy drummer Ernie Durawa explains the variety of rhythmic styles that informs this writing, and Durawa brought in other Austin artists for performances and recordings. The third CD features musicians you might hear in venues down South Congress, on Sixth Street, along Red River or at a late night club up South Lamar.
Dahl wrote, performed and recorded more than 20 new songs in Austin during a three-year period before moving to Athens, Georgia. The studio recording sessions with his Texas band were meant to create sketches of the new songs as they were brought to life in a flurry during live performance. The 12 songs chosen for this compilation, (Live By Your Word), were mixed later mixed in Athens by Grammy nominated studio engineer John Keane. In Georgia, Dahl continued his exploration of multiple sources and creative streams.
He also worked at the University of Georgia, America’s oldest chartered public university, as Associate Dean of Public Health. He left academe in 2020, opening his world again to musical and poetic exploration.
Eric in Seattle, 2010