ERIK KOSKINEN February Residency
GEOFFREY LAMAR WILSON
Erik Koskinen’s Burning the Deal (released June 28, 2019 on Real Phonic Records/Tone Tree Music) is steeped in American roots traditions. Born in Fort Collins, Colorado, raised in Northern Michigan and upper New York state, then living in urban Minneapolis and now, rural Minnesota, Koskinen grew up with the rhythms of weather, factory towns, and farmlands. Koskinen worked in construction for years as he developed his music career, and he now resides on a farm near where he owns a recording studio in Cleveland, Minnesota, population 717.
Of Burning the Deal, he says, “It’s not only Americana music. I learned how to play blues music. I learned how to play country music, and how to play folk, bluegrass, jazz, whatever. I learned how to play American music.” The nine songs share a stripped-down, almost naked quality, but complexities lie just under their skin. Part of that depth can be attributed to the top-notch players Koskinen recruited: Greg Leisz (Jackson Browne, Beck, Joni Mitchell) on lap and pedal steel and mandolin, plus the rhythm section of drummer Jay Bellerose (Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, Willie Nelson) and bassist Jennifer Condos (Don Henley, Marc Cohn, Ray Lamontagne). As for how he managed to gather them together — twice — for recording sessions in Ojai, California, Koskinen quips, “In the music biz, you’re always one person away from knowing the president.”
Burning the Deal, his fifth album, follows Cruising Paradise (2018), Live at the Real Phonic Radio Hour (2016), America Theatre (2014), and Keep It to Yourself (2010).
Geoffrey Lamar Wilson is a musician and composer. Born and raised in Minnesota, he left home at 18 for New York for college and adventure. After finishing a music degree in Jazz Saxophone and composition, he gave up the instrument and at 24 decided to learn some basic guitar and become a singer songwriter while also pursuing a masters in Music Psychotherapy. He moved to Brooklyn and from there led the band Jus Post Bellum with his now wife Hannah. A band which some described as “indie folk” or “Historical Fiction”, touring the east coast, south, and midwest over the course of 5 years while recording several records.
In recent years since returning to Minneapolis in 2016, his songwriter work has shifted from dusty Post Bellum narratives to contemporary issues spanning the American Civil Rights era to current incidents of racial violence and police brutality. He draws inspiration from the simple musicality, cutting wit and lyricism of Bob Dylan, the stark narratives and brutal honesty of James Baldwin, and a childhood steeped in Soul, Funk, and R&B.
He also composed and recorded themes for several MPR/APM radio podcasts including 74 Seconds (Investigating the Philando Castile Shooting), Flyover (w/Kerri Miller), and in 2019 he toured a handful of U.S cities with live performances of the hit podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking, with Nora McInerny, which he wrote the theme music for. Most recently he’s dusted off his saxophones and is working on new multi layered solo saxophone project tentatively titled Geo Mar Ilso.