Eric Brian Walker picked up guitar when he was 12 years old. At the time he was most interested in playing like Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. “It was that live version of ‘Midnight Rambler’ from 1969 that really made me say ‘That’s what I wanna do’”, he says. There is no doubt a great deal of blues influence behind the Stones and they were one of the avenues by which young Eric began to learn about the earliest American music form. Before long, Eric was starting to play along with the recordings of Robert Johnson and Big Bill Broonzy, among others.
Eric’s first performances on guitar took place around 2005 when his teacher, Terry Cooper invited him to what was then the Bourbon Street Cafe on Cherry Street in Tulsa. There, on several occasions, Eric got to play alongside Terry, bassist Alan Ransom and renowned local jazz singer Rebecca Ungerman. The most memorable moments from those early performances were during Eric’s guitar solos when audiences clearly responded to the passion that flowed from this young student’s heart through the guitar amp.
In following years he would play with several rock bands, most notably The Heat Circle, active from 2007 to 2013. At some point Eric became more of a hired gun than a dedicated member of any band, playing bass in several country-rock bands and appearing at as many open jam sessions as he could. He played his first series of solo gigs at The Silver Dollar Cafe in Collinsville, OK.
By this time, most of Eric’s friends and band-mates were well aware that the blues was his main squeeze. His solo gigs were a chance he had been waiting for to express that. At the same time that The Heat Circle was disbanding in 2013, Eric traveled to Oklahoma City to see legendary blues shouter Dorothy Ellis, aka Miss Blues, who was 77 at the time. After seeing her 3 nights in a row and getting a chance to sit and talk with her at the Dusk ‘til Dawn festival in Rentiesville, OK, Dorothy sent Eric over to a food truck with $20 to buy her some BBQ. They exchanged cards and Eric got a signed CD. The following week Eric took a call from her. Her lead guitarist had quit and she needed somebody. That weekend he went to her home just down the street from where the great jazz guitarist Charlie Christian had grown up. He passed the audition with one song.
Eric’s first show with Miss Blues was at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame (where she is inducted) for her 78th birthday bash. The following year Eric gained a great experience playing alongside her and Joe Settlemires. The last living guitarist who worked with Bob Wills.
Back in 2005 a young Eric had taken a summer office job in downtown Tulsa. He liked to take long lunches and walk around and explore, usually listening to Robert Johnson, Big Bill, Freddie King, or the Rolling Stones in his headphones. One day while on one of his long walks he heard the sound of “Terraplane Blues” being played just like it sounded on the record. He didn’t think until that moment that anyone could play like that in 2005. He gravitated toward the sound and there was a tall skinny blue-eyed blues man playing the classic tune on a vintage guitar. The guy looked like he had shown up in Bartlett square on a time machine from the 1930’s. It was none other than Little Joe McLerran. Completely enthralled, Eric stayed as long as he could, heard a bunch of old songs that were brand new to him, dropped $20 in the hat and made sure he would keep an eye out for Little Joe from then on.
Just about a month later Eric’s dad Brian had read about Little Joe in the paper and said he’d heard good things about the guy. They decided they’d go have dinner at Bourbon Street that Saturday and see Little Joe perform with his father Robbie Mack on bass. They bought two CD’s and an important friendship began. Over the following 10 years Eric made every effort to attend Little Joe’s performances around town so long as he wasn’t playing the same night with The Heat Circle or another band. Many times Eric showed up alone and sat and tapped his foot with the band all night. Oblivious to the world outside.
Finally in the spring of 2014 Joe invited Eric to sit in on the back porch at Pat’s Place in Sapulpa and somehow he managed to fit another guitar part into that sound which was already so full and self-sufficient. Shortly thereafter Joe started to join Eric at one of his regular appearances at Abear’s on Greenwood. The pair believes that Greenwood, also known as “Black Wall Street” was the home of Tulsa’s original blues scene, which is why the music they play there fits in with the scenery so well. With this Friday and Saturday combination, the pair got a lot of rehearsal and later that year Joe took Eric on the road for the first time. They played BB’s Jazz Blues and Soups in St. Louis and several appearances in Ohio. It was Little Joe of course who gave Eric his new moniker, “Little Brother”. Eric and Joe perform together on a regular basis.
In 2015, Little Brother plans to release his very first record on the Root Blues Reborn label which was founded by Little Joe. He played solo at Dusk ‘Til Dawn in August 2014, The Mercury Cafe in Denver, CO in November and won the Blues Society of Tulsa’s “Best Rythm” Award for 2014.
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