When asked who she would love to play with some day, Columbus blues rocker Erica Blinn said without hesitation, “Obviously Tom Petty. I’ve always said that when I grow up I wanna be Tom Petty.” Despite being young, female and from Ohio, it seems clear Blinn shares a lot of musical sensibilities with that particular 63-year-old man from Florida.
Blinn and her band, The Handsome Machine, released its new record, “Lovers in the Dust,” Jan. 28. There will be a record release show to celebrate the occasion at Woodland’s Backyard Friday, Jan. 31, doors open at 8 p.m.
“Making an awesome record, to me, is just being happy with the overall outcome of what we did and I’m really proud of it,” Blinn said. “Everybody that worked on it is proud of it as well.”
Devon Allman, son of rock legend Gregg Allman and member of Royal Southern Brotherhood (also known as Honeytribe), even lends his lead guitar playing to the track, “Need Somebody Tonight.” Allman’s part was recorded before a past Woodland’s show in which Blinn opened for him.
“We had just talked about it and I had a couple of tracks in mind that I was thinking of having him on,” Blinn said. “He was in town for a show and so I just got the guitar ready … and got the stuff together and got him some dinner … and we hung out and did that in an afternoon. So it was really cool.”
Recent shows by Blinn and The Handsome Machine have yielded the live debuts of many of the songs from “Lovers in the Dust.” That has led to Blinn narrowing down her favorites from the new material.
“My favorite has been ‘Need Somebody Tonight,’ which Devon played on and Aaron Lee Tasjan (Madison Square Gardeners, Semi Precious Weapons) sang backing vocals on,” Blinn said. “More recently, now that we’ve been playing more of the new songs live, there’s a song called ‘How Lucky I Am’ and that’s become one of my favorites. For some reason, that’s the one that people have told me so far that it’s their favorite.”
Another stand-out track from the new record is “Whiskey Kisses.” While the track is lamenting the absence of a lover, Blinn is far less deep when talking about the beverage itself. When asked what her favorite whiskey was, Blinn said, “Oh, I don’t know. It depends on who’s buying. I basically drink Old Crow at home. We’re poor musicians, so on the road, that’s our whiskey … either that or well whiskey.”
Blinn and the Handsome Machine have been staples of the music scene in Central Ohio for quite some time.
“I was just out of high school and there was a guy who lives here in town (Tom DeLorenzo), who was part of the Columbus Blues Alliance, and he was doing an event for the Gahanna Creekside Jazz and Blues Festival,” said Blinn, recalling how she got into the music scene. “He was putting together a band of kids, basically, that had been taking lessons and he auditioned some. So he put together this blues band and he had approached me about playing harmonica in the band.”
Many musicians are influenced by what their parents listened to at home, but Blinn found the blues and harmonica on her own terms.
“I really took it on as my own because I wasn’t really raised listening to the blues much,” Blinn said. “My parents liked old rock ‘n’ roll. The exposure I had to the blues was very minimal until that point (when she joined DeLorenzo’s band). I just really fell in love with it.”
Blinn and her band also have strong ties to Woodland’s Backyard dating back to when it was the Thirsty Ear Tavern.
“We love Woodlands,” Blinn said. “We love the venue and the people involved.”
Blinn wanted to stress that the record release show would be special for several reasons.
“We’re going to have some special guests up that night,” Blinn said. “Just some very dear friends and musicians here in town and people who have worked on the record, so we’re going to have a little family jam thing going on.”