about brian

About Brian

(The following article was taken from an issue of “Chicagoland Jazz Journal” which did a feature section on Brian Erickson)

JAZZ on the CONCERTINA?… How unusual … and when the concertina is in the hands of jazz artist, Brian Erickson … How wonderful! … How exciting! … How swinging! Brian Erickson was born and raised in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, USA. At the urging of his parents and grandparents (especially his grandfather Ole) … he picked up the concertina at age nine and by age eleven was already entertaining at local clubs and events.

Always practicing and desiring more knowledge, Brian started studying music theory a few years later with the famous jazz clarinet virtuoso/music professor Don Chesebro. It was during these early years in Brian’s musical career that he was introduced to the world famous jazz accordion legend Art Van Damme. Art and Brian have been great friends ever since (as well as having tremendous mutual respect and admiration for each others talent!!) But even before meeting Art, Brian became so taken by the superbly swinging sounds of Art Van Damme (via recordings), that he immediately set out to play jazz on the Chemnitzer System Concertina. Through the early years and up until today Brian has performed throughout the world (USA, Canada, and Europe) at numerous clubs, festivals, jazz and accordion venues. He is considered by the most revered authorities in international accordion/concertina “squeezebox” circles to be The World’s Greatest Concertina Player ….he certainly is at the very least one of the world’s greatest concertina players … but, more importantly Brian’s greatest contribution is that he is indeed The World’s one and only jazz concertina player/expert … he invented jazz concertina (or at least invented this superior level he brought it to.) The Chemnitzer concertina has long been popular in the polka bands of the Mid-Western and Eastern USA. There are many great concertina players in that scene however … all of them are basically ethnic/polka players … When Brian Erickson plays the concertina … the concertina becomes something different … it has a different sound in his hands … it becomes a swinging, wailing jazz vehicle! It is because of Brian’s inspiration of his friend Art Van Damme, Brian’s superior talent on the concertina, his amazing use of bellow control, and his innate “feel” for jazz that the Chemnitzer concertina has been taken to this new and superior level!!! More than a mere musician … Brian Erickson is an artist, musician, arranger, pioneer, and innovator!!! Although the Chemnitzer concertina is a musically flawed system (illogical keyboard layout.) There are still many, many “tricks” to be gathered out of it … This has become one of Brian’s jobs! Brian Erickson’s “tricks” include “single-row slides” (glissandos), “double-row slides” (glissandos), “entire-keyboard slides” (glissandos), “semi-tone bellow shakes”, “multi-tone” (chord) bellow shakes, etc, etc … These are just some of Brian’s many inventions!!! Brian created these tricks which means he knows “how” and “where” to “make-them-work” ….his creativity knows no boundaries!

But once again … the most important aspect of Brian’s Wonderful talent is the fact that “Brian Erickson is the World’s Swingingest Concertina Player!”

BRIAN ERICKSON IS TO THE CONCERTINA … WHAT ART VAN DAMME IS TO THE ACCORDION!!!!

Casey Szewczyk

(Mr. Szewczyk has been, for many years, a writer for “The Chicagoland Jazz Journal” as well as president of C. CASEY ENTERTAINERS INC. of Chicago, Ill. USA.)

 

about concertina

About Concertinas

There are several types of concertinas…all being small hexagonal, octagonal, or square instruments, and all being members of the “squeezebox” family, but, all having different keyboard systems. We have the first one built in England by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1829 (the English system), the English Duet system, the Anglo, and various German systems.

Brian’s instrument is the Chemnitzer German concertina,…a small square “squeezebox”    it is very similar and in fact closely related to the Bandoneon (a popular instrument in the Argentinian Tango orchestras.)
On the Chemnitzer concertina system each key on the box (except for one) has two note values….one for “push” and another for “pull.” But for virtually every note on push….there is another note which is the same on pull, although on a different key (button.) In other words you can play virtually any scale on “push” as well as on “pull.” However, “push” will be an entirely different fingering pattern than “pull.” ………So, in order to really master this instrument you have to “know-your-wayaround” the keyboard in both directions……both “pushing” the bellows and “pulling” (drawing) the bellows.

Along with being a “push-pull” instrument,…it also has basically a “scattered” keyboard that is … it … is not arranged chromatically or completed on any formation of scales.

Although the Chemnitzer is a very confusing and illogical system    it is however fully chromatic and because of its peculiarities it does possess certain qualities and advantages which are uniquely its own. One advantage that all concertinas have is having the entire keyboard under your hands (the ability to play the highest and lowest notes at the same time).

The sound of the Chemnitzer is darker than the average accordion. Its sound is definitely its own……sort of eerie and mysterious. This strange little squeezebox, with a charm all its own has captured the lives and love of many since the time of its invention in 1834. The Chemnitzer was created in that year by Carl Friedrich Uhlig, musical instrument builder and clarinetist in Chemnitz,Germany. It was first introduced to the United States in 1893 at the Worlds Fair in Chicago. Since that time it has had its roots (in the United States that is) basically in the Bohemian. German, and Polish communities and therefore unfortunately became stereotyped as a musical instrument to be used only for these types of music.
Fewer and fewer of these instruments are being made every year and playing the Chemnitzer concertina is rapidly becoming a lost art.

 

Order Info

Cool Concertina

CDs are $20.00 a piece (S&H Included).

Polkas by Erickson

CDs are $20.00 a piece (S&H Included).

Swinging Concertina

DVDs are $30.00 a piece (S&H Included).

A Salute to Art Van Damme “Keep Swingin”

CDs are $20.00 a piece (S&H Included).

 

 

 

To order, please download this order form here. On the form, indicate:

  • how many of each item you would like to order
  • your name
  • your number
  • your address

Please include check or money order made out to 'ISA Productions' for the proper amount.

Then mail your order form and check to:

ISA Productions
PO Box 1142
Wisconsin Rapids WI 54495-1142
USA

Order Form

 

bookings

Booking Information

For more information on bookings, personal appearances and upcoming performances of Brian Erickson, please send your requests to:

ISA Productions ISA Productions
PO Box 1142
Wisconsin Rapids WI 54495-1142
USA

or contact me at: jazz.concertina@yahoo.com

 

Testimonials

"BRIAN ERICKSON……THE ART VAN DAMME OF THE CONCERTINA"

Casey Szewczyk
writer for The Chicagoland Jazz
Journal and President of C.CASEY
ENTERTAINERS Chicago Ill.


"BRIAN ERICKSON!!!……The greatest concertina player!….Brian really did something different and great with the concertina!….."KEEP SWINGING BRIAN!!!

Art Van Damme
World famous jazz accordion legend
"The Father of Jazz Accordion"


"Erickson did more with harmony and became more advanced in his first 10 years of playing the concertina than any other concertina player ever did in a whole lifetime of playing!"

Eddie Lash
Legendary Chicago Concertina
Virtuoso


"I always tell people that in my estimation Brian Erickson is the greatest concertina player in the world!!!"

Don Chesebro
Famous jazz clarinet virtuoso
Music Professor of Wisconsin Rapids WI


"Brian Erickson is the absolute very best concertina artist I have ever heard in my entire life!"

Howie Sturtz II
Wisconsin band-leader
business legend and founder
of WCCN AM&FM radio


"Brian Erickson is undoubtedly the greatest concertina player I have ever heard!"

Donnie Klossner
well known concertina virtuoso
of New Ulm, Minnesota


"Brian Erickson is a real "country-club-cool" squeezebox player…………..the George Shearing of the concertina!"

Dave Remington
famous Chicago jazz musician and
music professor Eastman School of Music
of Rochester, New York


 

 

 

 

ISA Productions
PO Box 1142
Wisconsin Rapids WI 54495-1142
USA
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