Long before he picked up his guitar and took the ride down Highway 90 from Rockford to Chicago, Ernie Hendrickson has been crafting songs straight from the heart of Middle America. With a songwriting style that’s as natural as a summer breeze, Hendrickson’s venture into the realm of acoustic blues, bluegrass, folk, and pop is a seamless transition.
The Rockford, IL native is no stranger to the music scene. At an age when most kids are preoccupied with obtaining a driver’s license, Ernie Hendrickson was making a name for himself in the area’s regional music scene. Since the age of 16, he has hit the road many times over, playing in a variety of bands throughout Illinois. Now, at the age of 30, Hendrickson has the musical resume of a seasoned veteran. Having opened and shared the same stage with artists such as Jon Scofield, Victor Wooten, Leftover Salmon, Tim Reynolds, Jerry Garcia Band, and Particle, along with playing the most prestigious of venues and festivals, Ernie Hendrickson has the references and experience to back it up.
His first initiation into the music business came through his work with The Seed Band. The group traveled, played clubs, festivals, and parties, along with the recording of a few records. The experience working with a traveling band proved to be immeasurable to Hendrickson, allowing an opportunity to stretch out musically and yet gave him the ability to hone in on his own unique sound.
His upcoming release is a departure from previous work; offering up a less is more mentality. This approach allows Hendrickson’s songwriting style to shine brightly. Drawing early inspiration from contemporary singer-songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Tom Petty, along with experimental songwriters in the vein of Tom Waits, Hendrickson is able to harness their influence for his own usage.
Songs such as “Down the Road” and “Seasons Change” paint vivid pictures with exceptional storytelling like that of his musical forefathers. Crystal clear acoustic guitar arrangements and shimmering pedal steel lines contribute to the down home feel of Hendrickson’s latest effort. The record, engineered by Manny Sanchez (Smashing Pumpkins, Bound Stems, Umphrey’s McGee), features the legendary Howard Levy of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones on five tracks.
2007 proved to be an eventful and frenzied year, with Hendrickson performing for a brief stint with The Make Believe, a regional touring super group of sorts featuring Brian Felix of the OM Trio. Subsequent shows saw Ernie Hendrickson opening for Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger of Umphrey’s McGee, as well as Tim Reynolds of Dave Matthews Band fame along with a return to Illinois’ Summercamp Festival for the third time. The Chicago CD Release show in December at The Hideout boasted a live appearance by Levy, and was received by an enthusiastic near-capacity crowd. The event was filmed, to be released in 2008.
With significant breakthroughs in major Midwestern markets including Madison, Indianapolis, the Quad Cities, Carbondale, and St. Louis, Hendrickson is poised to deliver his unique brand of storytelling to fresh faces. Having spent years creating an identity in Chicago’s aggressive music scene, Ernie Hendrickson has found his place amongst the finest national singer-songwriters. With a never-ending dedication to his muse, Ernie Hendrickson is one artist to watch in 2008.