Dick Earl’s Electric Witness | Album Review

Dick Earl’s Electric Witness

Self Released


11 tracks/53 minutes

Dick Earl Ericksen hails from Utah and his band Electric Witness won the Las Vegas Blues Society’s Blues challenge and represented them at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis this past January. Dick is a veteran of four decades in music and is a fantastic harp player, singer and songwriter who also can hold his own on guitar.

I first met up with Dick in 2014 after the Keeping the Blues Alive luncheon at the International Blues Challenge. Tas Cru and Crossroads both were awarded Keeping the Blues Alive Awards; Dick was playing in the band with Tas at the IBC jams. In January 2017, I finally arranged for Tas to come to Rockford to play for us and to do some Blues in the Schools programs. Dick, Tas and the band performed for almost 1.000 students at two schools in February. He returned with Tas in 2018 and 2019; in all, they did seven BITS programs for almost 2,500 students and also performed three evening shows for us. His harp skills were impressive and he was a super guy to hang out with. Given our similar body types, we both also enjoyed some good meals together.

A consummate family man, he and his wife Alice work together on musical projects. Alice produced this album and does backing vocals and percussion. His backline are also part of the family. His son Isaac plays upright bass and sings and his daughter Mari plays drums and sings.  The acorn does not fall far from the tree; they are two talented young musicians in their own right.  His other daughter Zoe also sings on the CD.  Also appearing are John Houston on keys, Ryan Tilby on lap steel guitar, and the horn section of Jay Nygaard, Spencer Franks and Amy Paterson are respectively on trombone, sax and trumpet. Dick penned and arranged all the songs here.

The album begins with “Voodoo Kitchen,” a slick cut with a driving beat and some great harp and guitar licks. Next is “Deep Blues Sea,” a slow and haunting blues with a nice Gospel feel to it. Ericksen sings of being lost and alone; sadly, no one is out looking for him,  He blows some more mean harp here to savor. “No Headlights” follows, a pretty piece with well done vocal harmonies and some organ layered in for nice effect. Dick sings and plays with restrained passion that builds in intensity. Solos on guitar and harp are both well done.

“Devil Don’t Own” is another big cut with wicked slide and harp and a pounding beat. Erickson sings emotively and there is a haunting vocal “echo” by Alice that helps to set the mood. He follows that with “Youth Is Beautiful,” a soulful cut with great work by the keys and horns.  Vocals and harmonies once again shine. “Beautiful Girl” is a slow and moving love song that Ericksen nails and he adds another outstanding harp solo. A thoughtful guitar solo also adds well to the mix. Then it’s “Back Of A Mountain” where the beat picks up and Dick howls out the lead vocals. Harp and guitar are vibrant, cool and emotionally charged, too.

“Wolf Will Howl” is another excellent cut with some interesting harmonies and more great harp work.  Slow blues is the order of business with “Sinner Or Saint,” a pensive and penitent cut where Dick plays and sings with deep feeling. The harp with organ backing and vocal harmonies take the listener to church. “Time Fades” shifts gears as Ericksen tells a story as he travels past the end of the road. Dick sings that, “Time fades your fences, but it just don’t take them away.” A great, slow and heavy groove drives the song as the harp testifies to us.  Then the guitar breaks out the beat picks up as Ericksen tells the story of a no account friend who he repeatedly helps despite being used.  Guitar and harp are nicely done as the band delivers a George Thorogood-esque performance.  Time does fade fences, but the reality is that they are still there. The final number is a country piece entitled “Home Fires.” Ericksen gives a down home performance on vocals, acoustic guitar and harp. The harmonies come in and take us sweetly home. It’s beautifully delivered and wraps up a set of super tunes that I was thoroughly impressed with.

These songs and the performances are all top notch. Inspired by his faith and driven by his desire to make great music, Ericksen has delivered a superb album and deserves at least his third place finish in this year’s INC Finals!  I most highly recommend this album!

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