Singer/songwriter Brian Ernst performs in Beaver Creek Friday |

Singer/songwriter Brian Ernst performs in Beaver Creek Friday

Special to the Daily

BEAVER CREEK ” The antique, 1940s leather suitcase that shares the stage with singer/songwriter Brian Ernst is more than just decoration; attach a kick drum pedal to the outside and suddenly it’s the musician’s drum. It’s also one of 16 “instruments” the Ohio native plays during his shows. Along with the suitcase, the soulful singer plays acoustic guitar, didgeridoo, tambourine, harmonica, clarinet and even spoons. The often barefoot, dreadlocked Ernst is indeed a one man band, but more than that, he’s a storyteller. He took some time before a stop at Beaver Creek’s Coyote Cafe tonight to answer a few questions for the Vail Daily.

Vail Daily: What inspires your music and your lyrics?

Brian Ernst: Inspiration comes from many different sources. Life would probably be the ‘thing’ that inspires me the most. What I see with my own two eyes ” people I meet, trails I hike, bad decisions I have to learn from …. and of course, love.

VD: You call yourself the One Man Band. What instruments do you play?

BE: I play somewhere around 17 instruments. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less. That depends on if any drunk people accidentally walked away with a souvenir shaker the night before.The main instruments I play are guitar, harmonica, tambourine with my right foot and an antique suitcase with a kick drum pedal with my left foot and a didgeridoo. The other 12 instruments are everything from spoons to a clarinet.

VD: Do you play covers or just your own music?

BE: I primarily stick to original music. I’ll always throw in a cover or two during a show, but they’re typically covers people wouldn’t expect … or (have) heard of. There has always been a battle going on over my set lists. Down in Jax Beach, Florida, where I currently call home, I would say at least 90 percent of local bands play over 75 percent cover songs. Thus, I was always being told that I need to play more cover songs. I actually lost a few gigs because I didn’t oblige to those demands. Personally, I think settling to be a cover musician is accepting mediocrity.

VD: I like your “Ballad of George Bush” song. The lyrics are very powerful. How often do you tackle political topics in your songs? Why?

BE: That’s funny you read the lyrics of ‘Ballad of George Bush.’ I actually don’t play that song anymore; I can’t even believe I still have those lyrics on my Web site. When I first began writing music I went right after the political and social issues. Over the years though, I have changed the overall direction of my lyrical content to address more spiritual and emotional issues. With those few hours I have with the microphone in front of my face I feel led to sing songs that encourage and uplift people, more so than spark debates with my sometimes sarcastic and cynical political views.

VD: How do you describe your sound?

BE: Due to the number of instruments there are many musical genres my music touches. I would say it is a soulful, acoustic funk.

VD: You played a show at the Coyote last week. How did it go?

BE: The show at the Coyote Cafe was a real treat. It was my first time playing that venue. My good friends Big Wave Dave and Steve O brought their entire crew out to the show, so having their support was a huge blessing!

VD: You talk a lot on your Web site about how music is your purpose. What do you mean?

BE: The purpose behind my music is love. To give and receive love. That’s it. And I’m not talking about love in a sexual way. Giving and receiving love is a difficult task. I’m guilty of not always having the best or purest intentions. I’m also guilty of cynicism, which in no way reflects love. I believe love in its purest form is the remedy to this dying society. Unfortunately, this society is heavily influenced by the (people) on stage and/or on television. So if people are going to be looking, listening and following what I sing about, than I have to make sure I am living a life that is striving towards achieving my purpose. And I can go on and on about my struggle with that. But maybe if you come to a show, you’ll know what I mean.

High Life editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

What: Singer/songwriter Brian Ernst: One Man Band

Where: Coyote Cafe, Beaver Creek.

When: Friday, 10 p.m.

Cost: Free.

More information: Call the Coyote Cafe at 970-949-5001. To learn more about Brian Ernst, visit

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