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Eric Kallio
Mountain songwriter examines natural processes on second album posted on 08/31/2019

Local guitar player Eric Kallio refers to his songwriting as a product of glass, wood and steel. These raw materials represent his approach to writing music with guitars that are played with a glass slide, a steel bar and a standard flat-pick.

On his second album “Life Force,” Kallio, a resident of Government Camp where he has managed the Reed College ski cabin since 2010, expands his approach to include a wider array of instrumentation as he contemplates themes taken from the natural world and his experiences in wilderness. The album will be released Sept. 2, 2019.

 “The last ten years of my life have been experienced on Mount Hood,” Kallio said about the mountain’s impact on his desire to explore the natural world through his songwriting. “(These songs) are from my experiences in the outdoors and the beauty and complexity of nature.”

Kallio is originally from northern Virginia and began playing six-string guitar in 1991. At a young age he began developing his playing style from a mixture of folk, blues, country, Americana, jazz and roots reggae influences.

In 2012 Kallio shifted the focus of his guitar playing to traditional slide guitar techniques and began incorporating square-neck and round-neck resonator guitars along with his dreadnought guitar. He found new creative possibilities playing these instruments with slides which allow him to mimic the subtle phrasings of the human voice.

Kallio released his first solo acoustic album in 2016 entitled "Glass Wood & Steel." The album was the result of a quick week-long session with a producer with arrangements limited to performances on his three guitars.

For his second album Kallio decided to take on the production role himself with assistance from his brother Adam Kallio. This decision came from a desire to incorporate other musicians and experiment with song arrangements.

“Life Force” was recorded over a year-and-a-half by Kallio at his home and in Portland.

“(The second album) is like a painting made over a long period of time as opposed to a quick attack,” Kallio said. “I appreciated not being on the clock and having more mental space.”

The album features Kallio’s cousin Kip Jones on violin, Portland flute-maker Kyle Neidig on flute, djembe and percussion, and Portland musician Matt Brewster on cajón and percussion. Kallio also picks up the bass and additional percussion on several songs as the musicians establish intricate polyrhythmic grooves.

Instrumentals such as the title-track “Life Force” and “Tributary” showcase slide playing in Appalachia-tinged tributes to the natural world. Kallio adds vocals and additional backing to “Fire Season,” “Rain” and “Snow” as he reflects on the influence of these natural processes. On “Warrior” and “We Love,” layered percussion and pulsing bass add a reggae-influenced groove to the album.

Kallio will be appearing at the Skyway Bar and Grill, 71545 E. Hwy. 26 in Zigzag, on Saturday, Sept. 28 and at the Ranger Station, 4260 SE Hawthorne Blvd. in Portland, Friday, Sept. 13 to perform the new album. He will be performing both shows as a duo with Matt Brewster on percussion.

Fans of the Grateful Dead can watch Kallio perform songs from the band’s catalog with Fingers & Chilly at the Timberline Labor Day Mountain Music Festival’s tribute at noon, Monday, Sept. 2 at the Timberline Lodge Amphitheater.

More information about the upcoming album release and performances can be found online at www.erickallio.com.

By Benjamin Simpson/MT

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