Erin Condo returns to the Rusty Rail stage
MIFFLINBURG — For her performance at the Rusty Rail Live Stage, 5 N. Eighth St., 9 p.m. on Dec. 9, Erin Condo is bringing a dance party — complete with a horn section, to accompany the soul and funk, mixed with “real country.”
While she’s lived in Millheim for the last six years, Condo has been all over the country, including Texas, California and originating in Maryland — sometimes singing, sometimes not.
Condo started singing in church as a young girl, eventually moving to piano, drums and guitar.
“In order to get drums, my parents made me not only pay for half of it, but join the band,” Condo said, stating she was “obsessed” with drums. It turned out in her favor, not only culturing her as a musician, but also giving her experience.
“Guitar was the one that stuck with me,” she said. “Even though I didn’t write my first song until I was 26.”
Condo can remember being into hair metal when she was younger. “I was in denial about being a musician. The music I was into was very masculine — it was mostly dudes playing guitar, the girls were just hanging around the band. I never even really considered that it was something I would take seriously.”
As an adult, Condo said she was influenced by Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Merle Haggard. “You can hear a story that someone is telling. I think that was the missing piece for me. I love words; I love putting the words to music. And I love hearing the stories.”
Condo formed a more personal relationship with music, using her experiences of finding her voice as inspiration.
“There was something I liked about the sadness. It felt more real — more relatable. And it felt very accessible,” Condo said, which is something she strives for with her music, for people to be able to relate and understand the very same emotion she is communicating with her music. “Most people can relate to having their heart broken. As an adult I understood it, what heartbreak is about, struggling to make a living, finding your way in the world. These are things that spoke to me. As I was writing songs, I think other people could relate to that.”
In the middle of getting her Ph.D. at Penn State, Condo realized music was calling her. She moved to Austin, Texas, sharpening her performance skills in the live music capital of the United States. She got a job with the state of Texas, and that’s how she funded her music career.
“I was so green, I didn’t even know how to put a band together. I didn’t know anybody, but I put out an album, wrote new material. I performed a lot and I was surrounded by a rich talent pool — I was inspired.”
Condo then moved on to California, making a living giving guitar lessons and still performing. Next was North Carolina, where she took a break from the music scene, finally settling in Millheim. She and her husband own the Bremen Town Ballroom and EcoVents. While she is busy running a business and raising a family, Condo still squeezes in time to play music.
For her performance at the Rusty Rail, Condo is bringing her band, The Hoofties, including Bill Wilgus on guitar; John Kennedy on bass; and Kevin Lowe on drums.
“These guys are so skilled,” Condo said of her bandmates. “They are so professional — I feel so fortunate to play with them.”
The special horn section, the Love and Lightening Horns, named after her most recent album, for the performance is made up of Rick Hirsch, sax player; Brian Leslie, trumpet player; and Benjamin Kim, baritone sax.
“This is a really special performance — it’s the only one we’ve done this year so far. I enjoy it so much,” she said. “There will be plenty of opportunites to dance! We play a lot of stuff — soul, country, so you can two step and shake your booty. Or you can just have a beer and listen and be just as satisfied. It’s a great venue to bring the horns to. There aren’t many venues you can do that at.”
For ticket information, visit www.rustyrailbrew ing.com.