Erik Kowarski is one of Western Australia’s, and possibly Australia’s, most accomplished and versatile fiddlers.  With a classical upbringing and a deep connection with folk music and improvisation, Erik is equally at home accompanying songs, playing tunes or improvising dynamic solo’s.

Erik renders traditional Celtic tunes with skill and delicacy, striking a balance between virtuosity and taste.  As an accompanist, he brings colour to songs with his use of different backing techniques and his thorough understanding of harmony and rhythm.   His playing draws on a rich tapestry of genres as well as folk styles, including swing, reggae, rock, blues and more. 

Erik’s speciality is improvisation.  His sensitivity and broad base of improvising strategies put him at the top of his field.  From soft ballads to driving rhythmic songs, from subtle backing to dynamic virtuoso passages, Erik is able to play creatively and tastefully in a wide variety of styles in both accompanying and solo roles.

Although Erik is primarily a violinist, he has written songs and composed instrumentals for solo and band performance as well as for documentaries and media presentations. He performs a range of solo material as a singer-guitarist, much of it his own, as well as fiddle tunes. 

Erik has written a number of songs about Western Australia, mostly in a historical context.  Some of these songs were written especially for children of lower or upper primary school age as part of band performances at schools, others are aimed at the general public.  Other songs offer a humorous look at Australian life, released in Europe as a CD titled Of Men, Mice and Marsupials by the (mythical) Beat-About-the-Bush band.

Background

Erik Kowarski has been part of the WA folk scene since singing his original songs and playing fiddle tunes at Perth folk clubs in the early 1970’s.  He was a regular performer at the iconic Stables (Hayloft) folk club during its heyday.  Erik also frequently visited folk clubs in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide performing his original songs.  He has participated in many festivals and concerts, and in the mid-70’s was involved in organising the Annual Winthrop folk concert for several years as well as running various other folk events, mostly at the UWA campus.

Erik was the founder of the cult folk-rock band Touchstone (1975-77) which toured campuses and folk clubs from Sydney to Adelaide and performed live on 2JJ.  Over the years, Erik has played in a lineage of WA folk bands including Bonza Creek (80’s), Fiddlers Green (late 80’s – 90’s) and Mucky Duck.  He has also played in a variety of bands in other genres, bringing the fiddle to 70’s/ 80’s rock covers (The Get Smarts), cutting edge techno in the 80’s (The C-90’s, The Debutantes), reggae (Mario Bwana) and contemporary pop-rock (Midget and the Farrelys).

Other credits include being musical director on many of Ted Egan’s recordings and various other projects as well as playing session fiddle on numerous folk, country and blues albums.

Currently Erik plays with Mucky Duck and The Pioneers and with improvising duo Ochre with didgeridoo player James T Webb. As well as performing, Erik runs a small recording studio, Pocket Universe, where he specialises in acoustic music, having recorded and produced CD’s for a variety of WA-based folk artists as well as his own projects.  From 1997 to 2015 he also lectured in Pro Tools (sound recording equipment) at the WA Academy of Performing arts.

At home, Erik teaches fiddle and improvisation, and he often runs workshops for festivals and community groups.

Contact Erik Kowarski by phone or fax on 08 9272 2118, mobile 0403 055 336 or email erik@pocketuniverse.com.au

 
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