ERIK KOSKINEN February Residency
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).
Nici Peper is an Americana singer-songwriter based loosely based in the Minnesota / Wisconsin region. Growing up around gospel music and a family of storytellers, her lyrics reflect the soul and honesty of their influences. Her music exposes a gentle heart - one that writes of love, heartbreak, and dreams.
Peper plays solo or with her band full time and does an average of 175 shows a year. She has also opened for or shared the stage with wonderfully talented writers such as Charlie Parr, GB Leighton, The Jorgensens, Andrew Hughes, Billy McLaughlin, Jerrika Mighelle, Erik Koskinen, Adam Levy, and Sarah VanValkenburg. She has recorded in Nashville, toured Alaska, the Ozarks and the Midwest, has been on Twin Cities Live, Fox 9, Box of Chocolates, and done numerous radio interviews, including "Voices in the Valley" and "Northern Spirit Radio".
Peper has played every type of show from private parties, dive bars, and theaters, to the main stage of the Girdwood Forest Fair in Girdwood, Alaska, to Two Wheels on the Pig Trail at a biker/blues/BBQ festival in Eureka Springs, AR to The Warming House, the listening room of Minneapolis, MN to Deronda Lutheran Church Easter morning. In 2016, Nici took home the title of Minneapolis’ "Most Authentic Artist" in the contest sponsored by Wholly Guacamole and was one of 6 finalists nationwide. She has recently released her debut full length album, produced and recorded by Kurt Jorgensen and Brianna Tagg in St. Croix Falls, WI, in 2019.