April 2007

Arts & Entertainment: The Eric Culberson Band

Author: Eric Culberson

Beautifully bending note after note on his classic Trini Lopez 335 electric guitar, blues man Eric Culberson brings a new sound to Boathouse II. His sound. Critics have labeled it “Chicago blues” and “Texas blues” and “Memphis blues.” But if Culberson’s music needs a label, the best might be “Savannah blues.” Though the repertoire of the Eric Culberson Blues Band has excellent variety, there is a certain, sultry sound that hangs around, a little mystery in even the lightest piece. Like their city.

Raised in the Lake George area of Midway, Georgia, with ties to Savannah and Tybee Island, and “a lot of places in between,” as Culberson describes it, he comes by that “Savannah sound” naturally. “Music was always around me. My brother, my sisters, my dad, everybody played.” When he was in his very early teens, Culberson decided he really wanted to play an electric guitar. He was somewhat discouraged by family members who didn’t play anything that had to be plugged in. But Culberson was determined. He would sneak out his dad’s acoustic guitar, figuring out how to rig it up to a record player, via the record needle, so his music would come out of the speakers!

Culberson, along with drummer Stuart “Beef Stu” Lusk and bass player Nate Saraceno, pack a certain intensity into their music, but it is not over the top. While Culberson’s astonishing blues riffs do bring applause in the middle of one of the band’s pieces, it all seems to work together, the applause being part of the music.

Culberson creates the music the band plays with the help of Lusk and Saraceno. Lusk took a temporary leave from the band to go back to school. “He got two degrees in music. Now that he’s come back and knows everything about music, it sure doesn’t help me in any argument,” Culberson says, laughing. Saraceno, a SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) graduate, came to the group three years ago. “Nate’s also a really great artist,” Culberson said.

While the group tours up and down the East Coast, from Main to the Florida Keys, they remain one of the most popular musical groups in the Savannah area. “We keep pretty busy all the time. We’re fortunate to be able to play in our hometown so we don’t have to beat the highway for every dime we make,” said Culberson.

To hear a few cuts from the CDs the band and Culberson have made, go to the website MySpace.com and search “Eric Culberson Blues Band.” You will also find their current schedule, including appearances at Boathouse II.

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