The many hats of Eric Bolander

This article originally appeared in the Kentucky Kernel.

Born in Garrison, Kentucky nestled along the Ohio River between Maysville and Ashland is Eric Bolander, a man who wears many hats, including musician, artist, teacher, coach and most recently, father.

While Bolander didn’t pick up a guitar until his freshman year of college at Morehead State, music played a large role in his upbringing. According to Bolander, growing up his Uncle Gary had a drum set, bass and guitars in his garage he would occasionally dabble with. Bolander also recalls riding in the back seat of his father’s Monte Carlo as a kid listening to Don Williams, Conway Twitty, George Jones, and other artists on an eight-track player.

During his teenage years, Bolander became interested in edgier hard rock such as Soundgarden and Nirvana along with gaining a fascination with 80s artists like Michael Jackson, AC/DC and Prince from his older brother and sister.

After initially beginning college in Morehead, Bolander later relocated to Lexington, graduating from UK in 2005 with a double major in Education and Art Studio with a focus on painting. Bolander’s artistic passions stem farther than music, with the jack-of-all-trades teaching art at Henry Clay High School for the past 11 years and coaching football through 2015. Per Bolander, he’s always had a passion for working with kids.

Last fall Bolander’s life took a monumental turn with the birth of his first daughter Ava. Bolander’s eyes lit up discussing his daughter, who he has a song dedicated to on his upcoming solo record, due out this summer. According to Bolander, the tune describes the first few hours of Ava being born and the myriad of emotions and thoughts filling his head at the time, adding that he’s always “in it to win it” with everything he does, this being no exception.

“Being a father is the greatest thing that’s happened to me,” Bolander said. “I love seeing her and how excited she gets when she hears my voice. My wife is already saying she’s daddy’s little girl.”

Aside from his solo work, Bolander also performs with the group Alcatraz Shakedown. While his solo work draws from more of his father’s blues and country influences, Alcatraz pulls from the rock ‘n’ roll influences of his teenage years.

“I love the dichotomy of it,” Bolander said. “Artistically it gives me an avenue to create a completely different sound and idea for lyrics and melodies that would not work with Alcatraz.”

Bolander will perform with Alcatraz Shakedown on April 7 at The Burl to celebrate the release of their new album “Light the Cannons”. Per Bolander, the record has been in the works since the group released their debut “The Right Side of What’s Left” in 2014, with recording sessions taking place at multiple locations including Nitrosonic and The Sneak Attack Recording Company. The band released the record’s single “Contemplate” last year after sending it off to be mastered by Richard Dodd, ensuring the final product came out polished.

“A lot of times when I write, I try to be ambiguous so that the meaning changes depending on who is listening,” Bolander said. “‘Contemplate’ is a reflective approach to life in general and running behind trying to get where you’re going, always feeling like you’re a step behind no matter how hard you chug along.”

Local support for Friday’s show includes Bryan Minks and the Kentucky Sons and Mojothunder. Tickets are $10 and you must be 21 or older to enter.

“Music has taught me to not be afraid to say what you’re thinking and to present yourself even if it’s live on stage or producing art for someone to judge,” Bolander said. “Having the confidence to jump into life head first, not listening to the naysayers and embracing all the quirks about yourself.”

IF YOU GO

Alcatraz Shakedown with Bryan Minks and the Kentucky Sons and Mojothunder

When: Friday, April 7 at 9 p.m.

Where: The Burl – 375 Thompson Rd.

Tickets: $10, 21+

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