Erlewine Brings Heart and Songs to the Ten Pound Fiddle

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018, 9:07 am
Christopher A. Wardell

From house concerts to music festivals and all points in between, singer-songwriter May Erlewine has been entertaining the masses since the early 2000’s.

The Big Rapids native has spent a lot of time on tour and traveling the countryside, taking life in. This certainly comes out in her music which owes as much to Tom Petty as it does to Joni Mitchell. She has the guitar, the voice, or a keyboard at her disposal, and she’s not afraid to make herself heard.

Erlewine will perform at the MSU Community Music School Friday, October 26 as part of the Ten Pound Fiddle Concert Series.

Last year, Erlewine released the highly acclaimed “Mother Lion” album, which could be interpreted as a song cycle that takes the listener through pain, tragedy, empowerment, and, finally, a sense of gratitude.

The album seems to be autobiographical, soul-bearing even, but according to Erlewine, the album is a love letter to anyone who may have struggled with the events that unfolded in 2016.

“I set out with my producer, Tyler Duncan, to make an album to bring people into their hearts and feel,” Erlewine said. “The album is about vulnerability and the power in sharing our pain. It is about the global grief and confusion that we are experiencing right now. The hope was that the album would provide a place to rest and honor that grief.”

As a member of the Earthwork Music collective, Erlewine has fifteen albums under her belt. Her music has continued to evolve through her own personal losses.

Still, her stories are just as much about others’ life experiences as they are about hers.

“I don’t ever remember being footloose and fancy free,” Erlewine said. “I carry my story with me. I welcome joy and playfulness intentionally, because I am a very serious person that feels deeply. I am a human that cares very much about this world, the people in it, and how my work reflects that.”

“Mother Lion speaks of the strength in truth and tenderness,” Erlewine added.

Last February in Grand Rapids, Mother Lion won the WYCE “Jammie” award for Album of the Year.

In addition to being a solo artist, Erlewine keeps busy with a number of side projects including The Motivations, a self-described “boogie-dance-band,” and The Sweet Water Warblers, a fun, old-timey bluegrass band which includes contemporaries Lindsey Lou and Rachel Davis.

The Sweetwater Warblers have one EP to their credit, “With You,” which was released last year, while The Motivations will release their first EP, “In The Night,” on limited edition vinyl and CD.

“The Motivations are here to get us into our bodies, feeling music, and community,” Erlewine said. “I pour a huge amount of myself into writing and producing these shows and songs. The band is full of incredible musicians that also put so much of their hearts into the music. It is a side project, but still a very important and intentional part of what I am doing.”

For her performance at the Ten Pound Fiddle, Erlewine will perform two sets: one solo, and another with a band that will include bassist Max Lockwood, guitarist Eric Kuhn and keyboardist Joe Hettinga.

“We will be performing some brand-new material, as well as some songs the audience might recognize,” Erlewine said. “It will be my heart songs, and we will offer ourselves with the hope to feel, inspire, and lift our voices together.”

According to the Ten Pound Fiddle’s Concert Booker, Sally Potter, the diversity of Erlewine’s music is what makes her a top draw for the concert series every season.

“May brings a little different show to the Fiddle each year,” Potter said. “The real question is - what new, gorgeous lyrics has she written to describe the human experience? What has she penned in a song that each of us has been thinking? Isn't that what incredibly talented songwriters do? She continues to capture the hearts and minds of her many, many fans with these beautifully crafted works of musical art.”

Potter added, “In recent years, May's shows are some of the most poignant, the most memorable The Fiddle has hosted.”

While following up Mother Lion seems to be a momentous task, Erlewine is up for the challenge.

“I follow the inspiration and I am grateful to have so many outlets and the support to make my creative dreams a reality,” Erlewine said.


Tickets for Erlewine’s October 26 show are $20 for the general public, $18 for Ten Pound Fiddle members, and $5 for students. They are available online or at the box office starting at 6:30 PM.

MSU’s Community Music School is located at 4930 Hagadorn Road











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