First Look at Russ Erikson: 2016 Demos

Russ Erikson is the musical project of Kennan Banks, a singer-songwriter from the Charlotte, NC area. Russ Erikson’s 2016 Demos is a 6 track indie-folk EP released in early April 2016. They were all recorded in one take on Kennan’s iPhone. The lyrics, vocals, and acoustic melodies accompanying them mirror the way they were created: raw. In the most beautiful way.

Kennan says, “I’m really into music that is really personal. It’s sort of therapy for me. I would still make the same stuff I’m making and put it out there even if no one was listening.” But people should be listening. You can hear the heart Kennan puts into his music, like in the lyrics on the stand out track “When I was Young”:

“I’m on the Brooklyn Bridge and I’m looking down/ I would never jump but I get the appeal.”

His music is so personal and emotionally charged. You can hear it in his voice. The EP includes some covers, but the originals (“I Am a Father,” “When I Was Young”) are the biggest standout tracks. The emotion Kennan puts into his music bleeds out and infects the listener, urging them to feel or understand what he is saying. And that—along with Kennan’s obvious lyrical and musical talent—are what make Russ Erikson great.

After graduating from the University of South Carolina with a degree in film, Kennan adopted the name Russ Erikson (inspired by his middle name and the explorer Leif Erikson) to separate his music from his film, since he says his music is “so personal” to him. Kennan says that once he gets around 10 songs he’s really proud of, he will record them professionally and make an album.

Check out Russ Erikson Bandcamp above and be on the look out for new music from the up-and-comer.

This was first published on Next2Shine.

Shaky Knees and Walking Boots


This past weekend was the second annual Shaky Knees Music Festival in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. And it was fucking awesome.

I went with my cousin, CiCi, who lives about an hour north of Atlanta. I also factured my ankle the week before, so my orthopedic walking boot was my hot 2k14 festival season fashion trend.


Me and CiCi on day 1

Day 1:
The National headlined day 1 and were really good! It was a surprisingly high energy show from the long-time band and their 40-something front man. Still, my Day 1 highlight was definitely FOALS. They came on at 6 o’clock, just as it began to pour down rain. They sounded absolutely amazing and their set was so much fun. CiCi had never heard the band before and they were still one of her favorite acts from the whole festival. That should tell you something about just how awesome they were! We also saw American Aquarium, Sleeper Agent, The Whigs, Man Man, The Dropkick Murphys, Band of Skulls, Cage The Elephant (SO GOOD), and Spoon.



Day 2:
Modest Mouse (one of my favorite bands in the world – I even have a tattoo of a title to one of their songs) headlined day 2.  Seeing them live felt so surreal; the crowd was insane, and they were every bit as good as I imagined them to be (and that is completely incredible). I’m going to remember that show for a long, long time. We also saw Gregory Alan Isakov (he and his accompanying band were great – gave me chills!), Toyko Police Club, Dawes, Lord Huron, Conor Oberst, Portugal. The Man, and The Replacements. Oh, and shout out to King Of Pops: I will dream about their Arnold Palmer popsicle for the rest of my days.


Modest Mouse

Day 3:
We finally got a break from the rain, but the sun was relentless. Here in the south, it feels like we’ve skipped right over spring. It was HOT. To properly finish off Shaky Knees 2014, I came equipped with mini liquor bottles tucked inside my boot to get through security. I broke them out during Iron & Wine, who were good but I was disappointed with the sound (the bass was WAY too loud and vocals/guitar/banjo too quiet), and had a strong buzz going by the time the sun started to set and it was time for the band I was most excited for to play: Local Natives. They. Were. Awesome. Like, so, so good. This band is so talented and makes consistently great music AND they  killed it live. I’ve thought that Local Natives is one of the best bands out there today for a while, and their performance cemented that opinion into my mind. Also on day 3 we saw Deer Tick, Jason Isbell, Trampled By Turtles, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (LOVED), Mason Jennings, Blitzen Trapper, and ended with The Alabama Shakes.


The weekend was full of good vibes and great music at Shaky Knees. I liked every single band I saw perform, and loved several. It was such an awesome experience and I’m already looking forward to next year.

Leave a comment letting me know what you thought of Shaky Knees if you were there, or whatever you want!