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Jazz Fest Minutes: Singer-Songwriter Eric Lindell

Singer-songwriter Eric Lindell’s music has a soulful quality that is redolent of New Orleans. But he grew up in Sonoma County, California.

“I used to skateboard, and I still surf and all, and we wanted to start a skate-rock band — this is when I was about 15,” he says. ‘It was funny, I had a guitar, and the other guy was a better guitar player than me, so I got demoted to bass. So I played bass. I played a three-string bass for about a year. I just played the top string, you know. And the drummer, his mom played in a blues band. So we used to play in their garage on their equipment and just make a racket, you know, noise.”

Lindell says that’s where it all started.

“And I just really got from there into bands like, there was a band called Fishbone, when I was around that age, that I loved, and they kind of crossed all genres,” he says. “They did funk, soul, reggae, ska, all these things just kind of mixed in one, and I think to this day that it is something that has stuck with me.”

And the urge to write his own tunes came early.

“I just started writing immediately,” Lindell says. “I didn’t even know how to play my instrument. And that’s kind of been the case with me — I play a few different instruments a little bit. I never really learned... just a little bit and I’d start hearing melodies and writing.”

Until he came to New Orleans, Lindell never thought of himself as a singer-songwriter, but then he was talked into doing gigs with Stanton Moore. “He starting telling, ‘Oh, you’ve got to hear this new singer-songwriter.’ I’m like, that sounds like acoustic, James Taylor singer-songwriter when I think of that, you know. I never really thought of myself as that. And then, I think New Orleans really encouraged that. I guess that is what my knack is.”