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Flathead musician Eric Alan embarks on valley-wide tour with Nashville trio

by TAYLOR INMAN
Bigfork Eagle | May 25, 2022 12:00 AM

Local musician Eric Alan didn’t expect to be touring with Nashville trio The Gold Sisters when he met one of them while performing at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake three years ago. Along with drummer and longtime friend Rick Martinez, the musicians are looking forward to performing new music together during a two week tour of the Flathead Valley.

When Tori Gold met Alan, she said she never actually believed they would get the chance to play together one day.

“I said, ‘I play violin and my sisters, we play music. And he said, ‘cool, we should do something together sometime!’ I was thinking, ‘we’re never going to see you again, but sure, that sounds great! You know we should do that,’” Tori Gold said.

But, after messaging on Facebook the musicians developed a friendship. In October of last year, the sisters flew in to play with Alan during his album release show. Alan released his self-titled album last fall.

“For some random reason, when I was thinking about the people that would back the kind of music that was on the album, they just immediately popped into my mind. The strings and the harmonies just immediately came to mind as something that would compliment the album well,” Alan said.

Alan’s alternative rock, dotted with pop sounds and melodic piano meets the Gold Sisters’ folksy twang, creating a warm sound and genre-blending experience. Tori Gold said you wouldn’t think that all of the musician’s different styles would meld together so well.

“It’s amazing that if you were just looking at the music that Eric plays, that Rick plays and that we play, you would never think to connect them, other than the songwriting, but somehow it works so good, it’s really cool– just being able to blend those two genres together,” Tori Gold said.

The Gold Sisters began their foray into music after a traditional bluegrass station caught their attention as teenagers while their father was flipping through the radio channels. Living in Arizona at the time, they started listening to the station every Sunday. Tori Gold said they all sang, but Jocey Gold was the first to pick up instruments and encouraged the other two sisters to join. Soon, they moved to northern Virginia where a vibrant music scene gave them the opportunity to perform more and hone in on their craft. They’ve since toured all over the United States, Canada and Europe with their family band the Gold Heart Sisters. They write all of their own original music, which they describe as a fusion between bluegrass, folk and Americana.

Drummer Rick Martinez has been playing with Alan since they met while he was attending college in New York. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon, but frequently visits the Flathead to perform alongside Alan. He said he’s watched his songs develop over the course of their friendship and is excited to see the fully formed product.

“He says they’re new songs, some of them, but really they’ve been on the backburner for 15-20 plus years, as with a lot of artists I feel like. But, when those songs come to fruition in this way, it’s pretty cool to see. Because you’re looking back on something that popped into your head years ago and now it’s fully realized with strings and an acoustic setting. It’s nice, and it’s probably going to be hard leaving this and feeling like you’ve been spoiled. Because you’ve had that talent and resource right here,” Martinez said.

Martinez said playing gigs for hire is always a nice option, but playing with a longtime friend is a special experience.

“Before we all moved out west, we were sitting in a hot tub with another friend and I remember saying, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be crazy if we came out west and were able to do this on a regular basis?’ And here we are, just flash forward. Last summer was great, I think I was coming out once a month to play shows, then I met these very talented people (The Gold Sisters) and hopefully it’s just the start of something that’s bigger than it has been in the past,” Martinez said.

Getting all of the musicians to the valley has proved challenging, with rising flight costs and rental car prices. But, after months of planning Alan said he is ecstatic to finally play these shows.

“You know, this group is just talented enough that they can listen to something that was on my website or that I hummed into the phone, and they can practice it before they get here and they did, which I’m really grateful for their efforts and preparation and how much they care. For basically getting off a plane and playing a show, it turned out really well. I know by the time we play our big show at the Jewel Basin Center, we’ll have it locked in,” Alan said.

Alan said he believes their upcoming show at the Jewel Basin Center on Saturday will be his best show to date. The band is scheduled to play with John Dunnigan as part of the Center’s Crown Jewel Concert Series, which is running all summer long. The show will kick-off at 8 p.m. and other concert dates can be found on Alan’s website: www.musicbyericalan.com/spring-tour

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The band poses outside of Alan's home on May 23, 2022. (Taylor Inman/Bigfork Eagle)