Erik Pearson has been immersed in music of all kinds since he was a child in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he studied classical flute and music theory, sung in choirs, and played in rock bands. In the late 1980’s at Oberlin College/Conservatory of Music he studied Music Composition and Cultural Anthropology, and was also drawn to Carnatic Music of Southern India and to his growing interest in the banjo and Old Time American Music, a passion which has remained a constant in his life.
Since moving to San Francisco in 1990 he has made over 30 records/CDs and performed with a multitude of bands including Mushroom, Sonya Hunter, Evie Ladin/Evil Diane, The Crooked Jades, Alice Bierhorst, The Billy Talbot Band, Daevid Allen’s University of Errors, Irene Sazer, Matt Lax and Nearly Beloved, The Stairwell Sisters, and his own Erik Pearson Band. He has composed music for San Francisco choreographers Chris Black, Erin Mei-Ling Stuart, and Jordan Fuchs, and written film and chamber music ranging from Creeping Dawn: Mountain & Shadow, a prize winning composition for 24 recorders performed in the 2007 season of the American Recorder Orchestra of the West, to “Fork & File”, a banjo composition on the Crooked Jades’ World’s on Fire CD which was included in the soundtrack for Sean Penn’s 2007 film Into the Wild.
Pearson spends a lot of time on the road accompanying master storyteller Diane Ferlatte on banjo and guitar. Together they have made six CDs, all of which have won awards including three Parent’s Choice Gold awards, and a 2007 Grammy® nomination for their CD Wickety Whack, Brer Rabbit is Back. Performance highlights include The National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN (where 10,000+ people come to hear stories!), and The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. They have performed at schools, libraries, and festivals all over the USA and beyond, and are on the touring roster of the Los Angeles Music Center as well as San Francisco’s Young Audiences.
At home he teaches guitar, clawhammer banjo, and electric bass at the Community Music Center in San Francisco and occasionally at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, plays square dances with his band Super Modal, and is an enthusiastic participant in the Bay Area’s creative community.
Pearson’s other recent projects include recording a solo banjo CD, writing a piece of music for harpsichord and percussion for a concert celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Rite of Spring at the Community Music Center, and creating an orchestral version of Diane and Erik’s storytelling show Aesop, Alive and Well.