Local Musician Spotlight – Erik Schramm
Erik Schramm has spent his entire life either being a musician, working with musicians or working where musicians hang out, well, other than the time when he was a teenager and had two paper routes, so he could save money for musical instruments. Born in San Francisco at St. Lukes Hospital in the ‘60s, his parents moved the family to Novato where Schramm grew up with his older brothers jamming in the living room. Initially a drummer, but a broken arm from a bicycle accident sidelined that plan, so he picked up a guitar that was laying around and began to teach himself how to play, and like many, they were Beatles songs. As he got older, Schramm moved to San Anselmo, then to San Francisco, back to San Rafael, playing or working in the industry the entire time, even as a bartender at New Georges in the ‘90s where he was also a performer and eventually the soundman.
In the late ‘90s he formed the act Tainted Love, which covered hits of the ‘80s and more, then on to Super Diamond, a Neil Diamond tribute act, and the band played big rooms in Las Vegas as well as many corporate events. That was 1999 and that was the last time Schramm was not a full time performing musician. The gig also led to a studio collaboration called “Palace of Tone” with Bonnie Hayes of the Wild Combo fame, which then turned into session work as a guitar player.
The last eight years his act has been primarily “Pop Rocks,” a touring dance and cover act that also plays big rooms in Vegas opening for some of the ‘80s legends, and your chance to catch them in Sonoma is this Saturday, Aug. 26, when the band plays the Red and White Ball in the Historic Sonoma Plaza as a benefit for the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation. The dinner tickets are sold out, but you can enjoy the band and support the cause with a “Dance Only” ticket, which allows entrance once the band kicks off. You can get tickets and more info by pointing your browser to svgreatschools.org
Lets get to know Schramm a bit.
1) Many musicians in our generation cite the Beatles or Elvis Presley on Ed Sullivan as that moment when they knew music was what they wanted to do. When and what was it that made you realize you wanted to be a musician?
ES > Probably when I heard “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder, no, wait, it was one day driving down the road listening to the old one-speaker radio in my mom’s car. I remember exactly where I was, it was on Novato Blvd. It was 1975 and I was maybe seven years old and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles came on and I about flew out of the car I was so fired up after hearing it. I went and taught myself “Run for your Life” on guitar soon after. So, I would have to say it was in fact the Beatles, but that led back to Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley and other bands that influenced them.
2) That first instrument you owned. What was it and do you still have it?
ES > It was a ’72 or ’73 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe that was owned by Mike Varney and then landed in the possession of Al Lovati. It was at my house for a bit and my mom saw how much I loved that guitar and felt it was something I clearly needed to own. We didn’t have a lot of money and I think she drained her savings to buy it for $250, and yes, I still have it.
3) Who are you’re primary influences in your music?
ES > In my playing or in my music? My guitar influences are far different from my musical influences. I’ve been a “Hired Gun” for a lot of my life and was hired to play certain things in certain places, and I’ve never really done a lot of writing or have a lot of my own songs. But guitar players and soloists have been my main influence. George Harrison, Scotty Moore, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, he is likely my number one influence in so many ways early on. Later it was guys like Danny Gatton, Mathias Jabs, Mike Campbell, Dave Meneketi of Y & T, Neal Schon and the stuff he did with early Journey. He really was able to combine melody and “pyrotechnics” on guitar leads that I had never heard before.
4) What CD or playlist is in your car or your iPod?
ES > Jimmy Bryant, John Herington of Steely Dan, Johnny A, Dave Grissom, Mainly instrumental guitar based stuff
5) Tell us about your current acts.
ES > Pop Rocks has essentially been my full time job for the last eight years, so that mainly. We’re a solid ‘80s pop-rock dance band that plays everything from then to current hits, so that’s really a fun time. I’m still Bonnie Hayes’s session player when she is recording. Have a thing with Brad Brooks, and also a Sunday morning thing at a coffee house in San Anselmo called the Treble Makers, and an act called Radar Love, which does harder rock stuff. I still do session work when called on as well.
6) If you could have written one song, which one would it be and why?
ES > Oh lord, there’s so many, how can I pick “The” one. I think it would be “Jealous Guy” by John Lennon or, believe it or not, “Fox on the Run” by Sweet.
Set List – The rundown
B&V Whiskey Bar and Grille, 400 First St. E. Sonoma, 938-7110
Tonight, Aug. 25: DJ Cal. 9 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 26: DJ Willie. 9 p.m.
B. R. Cohn Winery, 15000 Sonoma Hwy. Glen Ellen, 800-330-4064
Sunday, Aug. 27: People of Earth. 2 p.m.
Friday Farmers Market, Depot Park, 270 First St W. Sonoma
Today, Aug. 25: Stewart Degner. 9:30 a.m.
Hood Mansion Lawn, 389 Casa Manana Rd. Santa Rosa, 833-6288
Tonight, Aug. 25: Funky Fridays with the Jami Jamison Band. 7 p.m.
HopMonk Tavern, 691 Broadway Sonoma, 935-9100
Tonight, Aug. 25: Nate Lopez. 5 p.m. Take Flight A Cappella. 8 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 26: Solid Air. 1 p.m. the Chime Travelers 8 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 27: Nate Lopez. 1 p.m.
Larson Park, 329 DeChene Avenue, Sonoma, 539-8092
Sunday, Aug. 27: Springs Farmers Market with Annette Lee and Maya Wiigs. 4 p.m.
Madrone Estate Winery, 777 Madrone Rd. Glen Ellen, 939-4500
Sunday, Aug. 27: Elaine Lucia. 1 p.m.
Muscardini Cellars, 9380 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, 933-9305
Saturday, Aug. 26: “Simmer Down Saturday” with Cork Pullers. 6 p.m.
Olde Sonoma Public House, 18615 Sonoma Hwy. Boyes Hot Springs, 938-7587
Tonight, Aug. 25: Ryan Tatarian and Matt Silva. 6:30 p.m.
The Reel Fish House and Grill, 401 Grove St. El Verano, 343-0044
Tonight, Aug. 25: Blues Defenders. 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 26: Black and Blue Ball with the Remones USA, the Quitters, the Motovators and Son of a Veach. 9 p.m.
Schug Carneros Winery, 602 Bonneau Road, Carneros, 939-9363
Saturday, Aug. 26: Jaydub and Dino. 1 p.m.
Sebastiani Winery and Vineyards, 389 Fourth St. E. Sonoma, 933-3230
Tonight, Aug. 25: Sugarfoot and “Food Truck Friday”. 6 p.m.
Sonoma Speakeasy and American Music Hall, 452 First St. E. ste. G. Sonoma, 996-1364
Tonight, Aug. 25: Bruce Gordon and Friends. 6:30 p.m. Magic. 8 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 26: Brandon Eardley and Friends. 5 p.m. Sonoma Sound Syndicate. 8 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 27: Matt Rudh and Friends 5 p.m. Acoustic Blues Jam. 8:30 p.m.
Sonoma Valley Woman’s Club, 574 First St. E., 938-8313
Saturday, Aug. 26: Hawaiian Jam Session with Del Medina. 2 p.m.
The Starling Bar, 19380 Sonoma Hwy. Sonoma, 996-3055
Tonight, Aug. 25: Three on a Match. 9 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 26: Brother Spellbinder. 9 p.m.
Viansa Winery, 25200 Arnold Drive, Carneros, 995-4740
Saturday, Aug. 26: Acoustic Soul. 12 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 27: Organix Duo. 12 p.m.
If your gig isn’t in my column, you didn’t tell me about it. firstname.lastname@example.org