For every decade, there's a guy with a guitar who embodies the spirit, romance and rebellion of youth. From Elvis to Springsteen to Prince to Cobain, these iconic figures have a way of channeling the collective voice of a generation both screaming and quietly pleading to be heard.
While it may be premature to elevate Eric Himan to the Mount Rushmore of pop icons, he's proving that he has the mettle to make the climb.
Himan burst onto the indie music scene at the beginning of this decade, acoustic guitar blazing, soulful baritone wailing. With a voice like Cat Stevens, inked arms that out-sleeve Tommy Lee and a guitar style akin to fellow indie artist Ani DiFranco, he was an young man on a mission.
That mission began in coffee houses around Penn State University, where Himan was a student, and culminated in the 2000 release of his first CD, Eric Himan. The stripped-down, acoustic recording was originally crafted as an audience keepsake, but it became his calling card as the music was shared. And the word was spread.
From the very beginning, Himan broke the mold of the soft-spoken, earnest folk troubadour. His performances were filled with electricity and power, but his lyrics betrayed a vulnerability and sadness that sharply contrasted with his bad boy appearance. The combination proved irresistible to audiences.
Himan slowly began expanding his sphere of influence, touring the region while carrying a full course load at Penn State. As demand for his CD grew, Thumbcrown Records (christened for the crown tattoo on his right thumb) was born.
Extensive touring became a catalyst for extensive writing and experimentation with other musical genres. The folk, rock, blues and even jazz influences of his youth (courtesy of his guitar playing father, who fed him a steady diet of Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Richie Havens and the Beatles) came into play.
The result was I Go On (September 2002), which brought Himan to national attention through magazine coverage and made him a favorite on the NACA circuit. After graduating, Himan hit the road full time, playing colleges, pride events, "anywhere people would listen," he laughs.
Local papers documented his travels, and AAA radio began playing tracks from I Go On. The more Himan toured, the more CDs he sold. The plan was working. So when it came time to record #3, he reassembled his studio team for what would become All For Show.
This indie release sold 1000 copies in its first month and caught the attention of Borders Books, which booked Himan for in-store appearances nationwide. Next came his distinction as a Fender endorsed artist by the legendary guitar maker.
Just recently, Himan was tapped to join industry heavyweights like Christina Aguilera, Melissa Etheridge, Pink and the Dixie Chicks, on "Love Rocks", a 2-CD compilation produced by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. For Himan, it's a harmonic convergence of music, message and audience. And the exposure is sure to generate even greater awareness and interest in his songs.
On all his releases, Himan uses his music to address difficult topics: date rape, the death penalty, family acceptance and, of course, the complexities and pain of relationships: all poignantly told from a first-person perspective. There's no macho swagger here.
Now, with his 2005 release, Dark Horse, Himan has crafted a record that shows his growth as a singer/songwriter, enhanced by studio production that truly reflects the caliber of his music.
The eleven tracks offer the same brand of brutal-yet-poetic honesty that has become his trademark, while Himan continues to explore musical genres, aided by a group of top-notch musicians and engineers. Dark Horse is the most expensive record twentysomething Himan has ever made, but it's a gamble that is sure to pay off.
Because no other artist looks OR sounds like Eric Himan: rough trade on the outside, gentle soul of a poet on the inside ad voice of a new generation all around
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