When it comes to honing her immense skills as a musician, Calgary roots/blues artist Erin Ross certainly got an early start. Scheduled to hit the stage at Stettler’s Entertainment in the Park on July 15th, Ross has been playing the guitar since she was about eight.
“My mom was a guitar player, and there was lots of music in my house growing up. We had a piano and other instruments around, so it was always a part of what was going on. My dad is a big music fan, too. And he still has a huge record collection,” she said, adding that she asked for her first guitar when she was just three years old. “So I’ve had an interest in the guitar for a long time.”
From there, she began to play and to write songs. “But really I just always wanted to play the guitar. When I was three, I think that I asked for a guitar for Christmas.”
In her formative years, she relished the sounds of classic rock.
“I learned a lot of Zeppelin songs, Jimi Hendrix – that sort of stuff. Also, the bands that were around at that time – lots of grunge bands and those 1980s/90s alternative rock bands, too.”
Meanwhile, it’s certainly been a quieter season these days what with the pandemic pretty much wiping out the live music scene.
“It’s been pretty strange. Basically, I had quite a few shows booked – most of which were cancelled,” she said. “And most of my summer gigs have been cancelled or put on hold as well.
“I have done a few things virtually – a couple of online concerts through Facebook and streaming apps and stuff like that, but it’s not really the same – it’s quite different from the normal ‘live’ performance setting,” she added. “It’s certainly not ideal.”
Ultimately, it seemed like a good time to take a bit of a break as well.
“I kind of hit the re-set button and I’ve examined a little bit where I would like to be going,” she explained, adding that she’s also been doing lots of practicing of late as well. “I’ve been trying to figure out what the next step should be and what that might look like, and what things to take into consideration along with that,” she said.
“I’ve also been working on material that I would normally do ‘live’ with a few new things in the mix,” she said. “With my guitar playing, I’ve also definitely been diving into some pieces that aren’t part of my live repertoire, but that I do have an interest in learning and working on.
“For a living, I teach guitar so I’m always working on lots of things and different styles. So I’ve been working on some classical music, and some jazz pieces – things I don’t necessarily always include in a live show. But they help to improve my skills and get me thinking in a new direction,” she added.
In the meantime, as mentioned, Ross is indeed an accomplished musician who transcends any one genre.
As her bio puts it, “Her soulful original compositions blend masterful guitar work, sultry vocals and showcase her skill as a multi instrumentalist. Rooted in blues, rock, country and jazz, she offers something for every crowd.”
For Ross, it’s been a fascinating journey.
“I feel that music is an endless interest,” she observed.
“Especially the guitar-playing part. There is always something new to learn. Some people find that a bit daunting, but for me it’s kind of what keeps me motivated. No matter what you have accomplished or what you’ve learned how to do, there is always something new,” she said. “So there is definitely a learning perspective. And then from a creative perspective, I do a lot of writing both musically and otherwise. So there is this desire to express part of my own experience through stories that I feel motivated to share.
“You have these thoughts rolling around in your head, and you’ve got to get them out somehow,” she added with a laugh.
As to the craft of songwriting, Ross explained that at times there may be a flash of inspiration. But it’s also about taking a comparatively disciplined approach, too.
“Sometimes I will write the musical part and the lyrical part together, but I’ve been writing songs for a long time so you can’t always wait for that lightning flash of inspiration. Sometimes you have to dig a little bit and do that actual work of trying to put things together,” she said. “I always have a collection of musical ideas that I’m working on at any given point in time – it might be just a chord progression or a finger-style guitar part.
“And then because I’m always writing different things, you start to patch things together. I also have songs where it has taken me a really long time to come up with the complete song – I’ll have a chorus or a verse, and have that written down in a notebook somewhere. I just keep thinking about it until the next part comes.”
Also scheduled for Entertainment in the Park is Jaydee Bixby on July 22nd and the Wheatland Band on July 29th.
Drew Gregory performs on Aug. 5th followed by Devin Cooper on Aug. 12th, the Genuine Cowgirls on Aug. 19th and Tracy Millar on Aug. 26th.