LEXINGTON, Ky. — Many people struggle holding down one full time job, much less three. However, it’s all in a hard day’s work for Eric Bolander, who splits time as a musician, high school educator and father. Despite constantly being on the move, Bolander conquers each role, exhibiting and unparalleled passion for what he’s doing every step of the way.
Following attending Morehead State University during his freshman year of college, Bolander left to do basic training for the National Guard. Upon his arrival he moved to Lexington to enroll at the University of Kentucky where he initially began to study architecture before tapping into his more artistic side and graduating in 2005 with a BFA in painting and a BA in art education.
In 2006 Bolander was hired at Henry Clay high School to teach a range of art and graphic design classes. Bolander says he attributes many of the skills he uses managing his music business to what he’s learned in the classroom, which actually outpaces his music career 13 years to 11 years. Those nuances include buying classroom supplies and building lesson plans, which apply themselves to buying and maintaining instruments and equipment, booking shows, and organizing publicity and media engagements.
After spending much of his early years musically focused on harder, edgier music, Bolander soon picked up an affinity for more of the region’s distinct Americana and rootsy flavor, delving into the world of singer-songwriter music.
“A lot of what I’d done musically until recently was more in the realm of rock and metal,” said Bolander. “Over the last few years I’ve began writing songs with a different vibe, more in line with folk, Americana and country music.”
For his latest venture, Bolander has recruited former Modern Day Relic bandmate Ben Caldwell (percussion, backing vocals) and Seth Murphy (cello, electric bass), the later of which he was introduced to by friend and fellow singer-songwriter Derek Spencer of The Rooster’s Crow.
Bolander’s venture into unfamiliar musical territory received a boost recently when the artist signed with Louisville-based Eastwood Records to re-release his 2017 sophomore album “The Wind.” According to Bolander, the partnership was sparked by a performance in Somerset at the 25th annual Master Musicians Festival in July 2018. Following his set on the Eastwood Records sponsored stage, Bolander was introduced to label founder Wesley Allen. The two continued talking over the coming weeks, with Allen expressing interest in signing Bolander and recording a new album. But first Allen wanted to re-release “The Wind” with a couple of new tracks, which Bolander agreed to before inking the deal.
The re-release features the album’s original eight tracks recorded and remastered for the reboot by Duane Lundy of Shangri-la Productions, who produced the project. The album’s two new tracks, “Ghost” and “Oh Lord,” were also recorded at Shangri-la in mostly live takes featuring Bolander on guitar and vocals, Murphy on bass and Caldwell on drums. The trio later tracked and added in Caldwell’s backing vocals and Murphy’s cello.
Also lending their talents to the album are John Ferguson (Big Fresh, Attempt, etc.) on backing vocals, keys, organ and piano throughout; J. Tom Hnatow on pedal steel for “Maybe I,” Tripp Bratton on percussion, Lundy on ambient keys, Trenton Jenkins (Jinx Machine) on banjo and Matt Polashek on saxophone on “Whisper” and Prince cover “Purple Rain.”
Despite now calling Lexington home, Bolander pays homage to his hometown of Garrison with the album’s artwork, a sunny portrait of a railroad bridge towering over a boat dock along the Kinniconick Creek back home. The design was done by Huntington, W. Va., artist Jimbo Valentine, who’s also done recent album artwork for Tyler Childers’ “Purgatory” and Senora May’s “Lainhart” along with countless show and festival posters. Valentine used the original 2017 cover for “The Wind,” a still photo by Bolander of the location as a reference to bring the peaceful landscape to life like never before.
“Lexington is home for me now, but I’ll never forget my roots and where I came from,” said Bolander. “Garrison in many ways has contributed me being who I am today, with many of the stories from my time there helping to encapsulate the mood and vibe of this album.”
If you go: Eric Bolander album release show with Laid Back Country Picker, The Young Heirlooms and Derek Spencer
When: 8 p.m. on Friday, March 29
Where: The Burl, 375 Thompson Rd.