A touch of country

Erica Blinn brings Nashville rock to Trolley

By Mike Ritchie

Columbus-born Erica Blinn started playing the stage at the young age of 14, encouraged by her musical dad.

“At first I was excited then I got some stage fright,” Blinn recalls.

Raised with a musical pedigree of rock including of Sheryl Crow and The J. Geils Band, she played the rounds of Columbus including The Basement and Natalie’s before moving on to Nashville. Now taking cross-country van trips, touring DIY-style, she keeps close tabs on her hometown and her Tennessee recording home.

From time to time people have said she sounds “a bit country,” but she sees herself as more rock and pop. As long as people like the songs, she’s cool with it.

“I don’t really consider myself country,” Blinn confesses. “It’s such a touchy subject because country is so many things right now. It’s more like classic rock, kinda country. We’re not hard rock, but the songs are sort of put together like that when people here it.

“I wish I had a dollar for every time someone came up to me and said ‘I don’t really like country music but I like yours.’”

If Blinn ever decided to write a metal tune, she could probably do it, drawing inspiration from her experience digging graves during her time with a Dublin, Ohio, landscaping company. With the help of heavy machinery she dug graves, then came back after the service to fill them in.

“It was a weird feeling being a part of a stranger’s final resting place,” Blinn admits.

But as a transplant in Nashville, she’s making her mark.

“There were many transplants from all over and everyone’s trying to figure things out together and make it work,” Blinn explains.

Her first impressions of the scene were memorable.

“When you’re in a new place, it’s very inspiring, at least for me,” she says. “Everyone’s really welcoming. Not everyone’s from here. People moved here at the same time as us from other places and we’re all trying to figure it out together. Trying to make it work and help each other out, it’s really cool. A lot of musicians here are friends from Columbus or from Texas.”

Blinn speaks from experience that Nashville’s chicken is hotter than what other states offer. “They have a ‘Nashville chicken style’ which is hotter than most, so if you go and order it, pick a level less than what you think you can handle, because it’s hotter,” Blinn warns. “Everything’s hotter in Nashville.”

There are at least 25 states she hasn’t played yet, but last year, she was been able to cross Wyoming, Nebraska and the Carolinas off the list.

She’s been to Dayton a dozen times, the Trolley Stop making up four or five visits.

“It’s an awesome room and staff,” Blinn remembers. “The people are wonderful, they come to listen, not watch TV.”

DIY touring with a very small team in a van is her style. It’s about how much work you want to put in. Constantly working and being self-sufficient on the road is a lifestyle she’s embraced.

A major tour highlight occurred when she was invited to see
Sheryl Crow in Toledo during the Kid Rock tour in an intimate outdoor 4,000-seat venue.

With the heavy wave of iconic musicians lost in January, Blinn joined millions in shock and grief over the news of Glenn Frey’s passing. “My dad was a huge Eagles fan,” Blinn recalls.

Her love of J. Geils started when her dad got her a record, and she discovered Richard “Magic Dick” Salwitz, who became her favorite harmonica player.

There’s not enough time in the day to discuss all the bands she would like to tour with but she name dropped a few. “Heck yeah, where do I start?” She’d love to play with J. Geils and Bob Seger for starters.

“There’s so many people that we listen to and are friends with and would like to work with a little bit more,” Blinn says of her revolving circle of local-national acts.

One of her most memorable shows happened in Columbus in the summer of 2012 at a Lynyrd Skynyrd show. She got sick the last day of the tour, flew to Columbus the following day and went straight to urgent care. The doctor told her she had a temperature of 101.4, and that she shouldn’t be performing. In true rebel fashion, Blinn said, “thanks doc, but I gotta play.”

Erica Blinn will perform on Friday, Feb. 12 at the Trolley Stop, 530 E. Fifth St. The show begins at 9:30 p.m. For more information, please visit EricaBlinn.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at MikeRitchie@DaytonCityPaper.com.

 

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at MikeRitchie@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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