Eric Krasno is not who you think he is. Pin him as jazz musician and he will shred some rock and roll. Call him a rocker and he will funk your face off. Ask him for the funk and he might just play you some smooth and sassy R&B.
More than two-decades into a wildly successful career as a musician, a writer, a producer, and now a singer, Krasno continues to impress. His newest work will be on display at New Mountain this Wednesday, Feb. 1.
“I like keeping it fresh,” he tells me. “A lot of people expect you to do what they have heard you do before, but I want to keep trying new things.”
His 2016 release, “Blood From a Stone,” marks one more notch in Krasno’s versatile and prolific catalog, which started with his first album, “Reminisce,” a true jazz album. He’d been studying and playing music for several years before being introduced to jazz himself.
“There was Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye,” Krasno explains, “and Wes Montgomery and Herbie (Hancock) and Miles (Davis) but that was later in my high school and college years when I really got into that.”
Early on he was influenced by the harmonies of bands like Crosby, Stills, and Nash and The Beatles. It was Jimmy Hendrix and Led Zeppelin when he was a pre-teen that got him into the electric guitar. Those earlier influences shine through on “Blood From a Stone” far more than the jazzier standards some may have anticipated.
That return to roots, coupled with the recording techniques that were used on this album, gives the songs a more intimate, personal feel. Much of the album was recorded in a barn in Maine where Krasno was writing the music with friends. At the time, they had no idea the tracks they were recording would be the basis of the new record.
“The coolest thing about it was not knowing what it was going to be. We were writing and recording the songs there and getting these sounds in a place they had never been made before. Borrowing gear, plugging this into that. It was a lot of fun. It wasn’t like we were in a studio spending money every second,” Krasno says.
The result is a warm, raw, not-too-polished sound that fits perfectly with the overall feel of the album. The love- and hate-themed songs and the crunched-down guitar early on are the perfect match for the production. Further along, the warmth of the recording lends depth and intimacy to the groovier, more R&B influenced numbers.
Still, whether performing with Lettuce or Soulive or Phil and Friends, one thing that has always been a staple of Krasno’s live performances is improvisation. Despite the more traditional structure of many of the songs on “Blood from a Stone,” he assures me that live it will be something completely different.
“We stretch it out a lot more live,” he says. “ We still play the songs but we definitely take them into a new realm and stretch them out. My dream is to come out with the band, ready with all the vocals and harmonies, and then expand and improvise with them.”
In addition to Krasno’s regular band, and with the Marcus King Band opening, it’s almost assured that the two musicians, who have over the last few months gotten to know each other personally, will be playing together at some point in the evening. With so much talent and dedication on stage, it promises to be worth every penny of the price of admission.
Eric Krasno Band with Marcus King Band at New Mountain Asheville on Wednesday, February 1. Tickets are $17 in advance and $20 DOS.
Caleb Calhoun studied writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and music at a plethora of clubs and bars across the southeast. He is the author and publisher of Rosman City Blues and currently resides outside of Asheville with his dog and best friend, Dr. Gonzo.
You can reach him at Caleb.firstname.lastname@example.org and/or Facebook.com/GonzoNC.