Musician says Tigard venue is favorite place to perform
By Kristen Forbes
The Times, Feb 16, 2011

Eric Nelson has been performing and participating in open mikes for the last decade, showcasing his songwriting, guitar and vocal talents. He’s been all over Portland, at a variety of venues, but recently he brought things even closer to home and started going to the open mike night on Wednesday evenings at Tigardville Station in downtown Tigard. This venue was suggested to Nelson by his friend Tom, and Nelson admits that at first he was skeptical.

“We went for dinner one night, and I brought my guitar,” Nelson recalls. “I was very, very pleasantly surprised at the setup and the talent, as well as the number of people they draw there who aren’t musicians but are coming to enjoy the music. This is kind of a rarity in the open mike world, where sometimes you’ll play for two or three people and they’re all other musicians.”

A typical night showcases 10 to 15 performers, each singing around three songs for about 15 minutes. The room typically fills up with music fans, many who stay for the entire show. Nelson has been participating since October (the event began two years before he started going) and admits he’s hooked. Another bonus to performing here versus other venues, he says, is the full stage and professional equipment the host Jim Crutcher provides each week.

“I plan on going there for a long time,” he says. “Another cool thing is that you meet so many other musicians. The people are really social. You can go there alone, seek out other musicians and end up with some great contacts. Not only is it great to practice performing, but meeting other music contacts is so important.”

His musical abilities are just one of many skills: Nelson has a business mind, CPA experience, and is now focusing on financial consulting. His ultimate goal is to blend his financial skills with his passion for music. He would ideally like to work in the financial arena of the entertainment industry or other creative company, putting both his CPA and creative skills to use.

Although Nelson began playing the guitar at a young age, he never performed for people. After graduating from Indiana University and moving to Chicago to pursue a financial career, he set his musical ambitions aside. In 1996, after he moved to Portland, he decided to resurrect the guitar. At this time, he also started writing songs – initially with the idea of having someone else perform them. Eventually, he warmed to the idea of performing his own music and started putting himself out there, going on to land gigs at farmers’ markets, bars and clubs.

He started a band with other financial professionals and began playing around town, but eventually the demands of his “real job” caught up with him and the music got pushed back again. When he started again, it was just a man and his guitar, hitting up open mikes and songwriter showcases all over Portland.

Now, he’s attending other open mikes and showcases sporadically and Tigardville Station steadily. Its proximity to his home in Tigard, the smoothness of how well it is run and how many people it attracts, and the response he has received from the other people he’s met there make the Tigard open mike his favorite. Nelson’s wife Margaret, a yoga teacher who also came from the financial world, is happy to watch Nelson at the Tigardville Station, a far cry from some of the more divey venues where he has performed in the past.

“There’s a huge range in styles,” says Nelson, who describes his own style as acoustic rock. “It’s all across the board. There’s a big talent level range too, so it’s not intimidating if you’re just starting out. It’s a really warm, welcoming environment. The other musicians are really supportive.”

Nelson’s CDs (“Light Years” was produced in 2001, “Your Watercolor Heart” in 2009) are available for purchase at cdbaby.com/cd/ericnelson2. His myspace page is myspace.com/ericnelsonmusic.

Open Mike Wednesday at the Tigardville Station, hosted by Jim Crutcher, takes place from 8 to 11 p.m at 12370 S.W. Main St. in Tigard for those 21 and over. The Tigardville Station website is www.tigardvillestation.com.

For bookings, call Jim at 503-310-7631 or email at musicman4561@aol.com
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