By Julie Horner
The Anacortes ferry plowed smoothly through gray waters in a light icy rain, the motion almost imperceptible as folds of distant horizon rolled slowly by under a bruised sky. Behind the rain-speckled windows in the shelter of the ferry’s passenger area, a dozen folk musicians vigorously played Irish jigs and reels to an accidental audience of fellow travelers who were also heading to destinations among the San Juan Islands, WA. Sitting in a nearby window seat grinning ear-to-ear, one passenger in particular caught my eye.
They say an acoustic shadow can cause sound to be refracted to an unexpected location similar to how light is transformed by mirage. I set down my fiddle and went over to chat. Turns out I was about to meet Erik Rozite of Acoustic Shadows for the first time, some 900 miles from where we both live in Boulder Creek, CA! Serendipity happens in the Pacific Northwest.
Acoustic Shadows all-original jam band was born deep in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Fronted by possibly the most infectiously affable guy I’ve ever met, Erik Rozite power-whispers his lead vocals with a signature conviction, that right hand in constant motion driving the rhythm on guitar. Lead guitarist, Zac Clow never breaks a sweat squeezing out the high wail, and Paul Stevens holds down some serious drum beats while “Wygz” William Van Kol keeps it cool and steady on bass. Jim Anderson (booty shakin’ percussion), and Brian Valentine (screamin’ harmonica) fill out the Acoustic Shadows sound, an intoxicating jambalaya of solid rock rhythm and atmospheric groove.
The group has released four highly listenable CDs professionally recorded at local studios, and they are ever present in the mountains and performing at familiar venues all over the greater Santa Cruz area.
Erik is the creative force behind the band, writing all the songs and producing inventive, eye-catching fliers to promote their shows. I caught up with him over a pint (or two) at the Boulder Creek Brewery in late January and asked him how he does it. Because of the day job, he said he has limited time to write, but when he does, he writes music that’s similar to what he likes listening to with lyrics about his adventures and “whatever comes out and feels good.” Passionate things that he loves. Sometimes song writing comes “at a snail’s pace,” he told me. “I’ll get an idea or melody in my head…sometimes you try hard to make something work and four hours later you’ve got two sentences and they suck…and other times it just pours out!”
Erik’s adventures include trips he takes with his two Newfoundlands, Seamus and Shadow, giant bear-like dogs he calls “Drool Pigs.” From the beach to the Sierras anyone connected to Erik on Facebook has the pleasure of enjoying the “Drool Pig Pic of the Day.” While much of Erik’s writing for Acoustic Shadows involves subjects with local flavor from being “out and about talking to people…which is awesome…like a twisted version of Mayberry,” it’s also the trips he takes with his dogs away from familiar haunts that gives him the head space and inspiration for new material. And he tries to make his compositions sound as natural as possible, “more earthy strings and less effects,” he says.
The band sounds tight, they rehearse every week, so watching them on stage you can tell they’re having a blast and everyone in the room is on their feet. When asked how practices go with this now 7-year old band, he laughed and said, “We have almost no drama…a good practice is with chill people.”
An expert brewer and purveyor of party times, Erik is also proud to say that this year marks the 7th annual Drool Pigs Festival, a home-gown showcase he hosts featuring local bands and local folks.
With a shiny new website and upcoming release party for their new CD, “Nickel Nipple Tickle” on Friday February 20, 2015 at Don Quixote’s (CDs are $5 at the show), the band is ready to share the “cask fermented and high times” Acoustic Shadows vibe!
On the Web: http://www.droolpigs.com/
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/acousticshadows
Erik Rozite of Acoustic Shadows
(c) 2015 Julie Horner
Julie Horner is an Irish folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org