Eric Sommer broke out of the Boston folk music scene with a mixture of roots-pure fingerstyle acoustic guitar and new wave pop, a blurred combination of Nick Lowe, The Ramones and Spider John Koerner influences.
This unique alchemy produced a driving, guitar-based pop sound grounded in a tight, infectious beat and laced with Byrds-style, jingle-jangle guitar work; such a sound landed Eric and The Atomics a house band gig on Tuesday nights at Cantone’s, the uber hardcore, working-class punk bar in downtown Boston, just off an area called The Combat Zone.
Too young to drink, they got by on soda water, velvetta and toast. At first, writing power pop rock songs, Eric blended his acoustic feel, open-tunings and slide guitar into a more emotive writing style, producing a wide rang of highly personal songs, songs based on years of road work, travel and just general observations as well as some autobio material. During this time in Boston, Eric filled in on a regular basis at Don Law’s new Paradise Theatre, located right on Commonwealth Avenue next to Boston University and across from another hardcore Brighton/Allston rock palace, The Underground.
At the Paradise, Eric shared the stage and a number of tours with many national acts such as David Bromberg, Leon Redbone, John Mayall, Dr. John, John Hammond and new wave British acts like Nick Lowe bands from the UK Brahm Tschikovsky,
Wreckless Eric, The Dead Kennedy’s and Gang of Four.
Sommer, who paid his guitar dues on the streets of Boston during high school, left for Europe and played in Amsterdam and Hamburg before settling in Aarhus, Denmark where he toured with Danish bands and held steady gigs at Den Hoyle and De Gaverit, two very popular clubs for American ex-pats in Europe. Eric then moved to central Amsterdam, lived on a houseboat and worked the Dutch /Netherlands music clubs, the new Amsterdam scene and wild West German concert circuit. Back in Boston, broke and homeless, Eric lived on the streets and in the old abandoned warehouses around the Fort Point Channel in South Boston just behind the huge Federal Reserve Bank and South Station.
While playing every open mic and working every short-order cook job he could find, he took guitar tips from legendary guitar master David Landau, brother of Springsteen manager Jon Landau, then from Mick Goodrick of the Gary Burton Quartet and Steve Howe of YES fame, and listened to all the Joe Pass, Jeff Beck and Charlie Christian vinyl recordings he could find.
The Atomics continued to hold down the house band spot at Cantone’s and after shows and tours with a number of new wave and punk acts like Gang of Four and The Dead Kennedy’s, The Atomics evolved into one of the best local power pop/new wave bands in Boston. The trio disbanded after a few years and Eric moved to New York, then Atlanta and finally settled around the Mid-Atlantic area, choosing Adams Morgan, a hip, cosmo-type east village like area of Washington DC, as a base of sorts.
Eric is a regular performer in many national venues, and has built a solid music and performance reputation across the country. Eric’s goals are rooted in what John Lee Hooker once said to him after a show at The Catacombs in Boston : “If you ain’t playin’, then you just payin’”. The message was clear - stay on the road if you don’t want to go broke.
When a show brought him to South Carolina, he met Greenville, SC native David Katilius, now appropriately playing under the stage moniker "Dave the K". Dave the K is a superlative bass player and session musician, as well as an excellent arranger, composer, educator, and innovative musical thinker. He is an experienced pro in jazz, experimental, rock/pop, and soul ensembles (among others), and is currently pursuing a double degree in Bass Performance and Film Scoring at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
After a series of shows and off-chance jams & sessions, Eric, Dave the K and Matt Vaughnn (on traps and perc) collided in Pittsburgh at 20 Cedar Music Studios to record their first record titled “Rainy Day Karma” & features 1O songs mastered in Pittsburgh by Matt Vaughan at 2O Cedar Studios along with re-mixing and vocal mastering in Nashville...
Another record is in the works, a winter tour is already booked and the Flares hit the road on December 22, starting in Asheville, NC. With so many creative approaches among such skilled players, no live show is ever quite the same... and the combination is extraordinary.