Every press of a key on his piano can take your mind to the Illinois corn field Eric Burgett first planted his Music City dreams in. If you are a farm kid like Eric, you may share his love for working with family, bonfires and cold beer on Saturday night then singing Hallelujah on Sunday morning. Eric’s music will give your small town saturday night boot stompin’ good time a classical melody of it’s own. I interviewed Eric on how growing up on a farm influenced his music career and how he sets himself apart with his masterful piano playing.
Q. Take me back to the beginning of your career, tell me how you found your love and talent for music and decided to make it a career aspiration?
A. “I grew up in a small town in Latham, Illinois. It was a town of about 400 people and I grew up on a corn and soybean farm. We had some livestock for showing in 4-H. I have two brothers and the three of us found our love for country music. We were always on the tractors and in trucks, our friends loved country music and we had bonfires every weekend.”
“I played piano at my church and at my parents’ bar called the Korn Krib. The Korn Krib started out as a shed and it burned down. We rebuilt it out of two grain bins and had a grand reopening in 1998. There was an upright piano at this bar and I remember hopping up on the bench during the dinner hours and playing for tips.”
“In college I got involved in classical piano, I had been taking formal lessons on reading music and playing by ear. I started my own country band and played at local bars. It was always me and a piano at the front of the stage with my band behind me.”
Q. How did you make the decision to move to Nashville?
A. “I went to college near my hometown so I could make trips back to help during harvest. I then auditioned to a school in Nashville, Belmont University, for my master’s degree in piano. It was always part of the plan to take my music to a higher level and support myself financially in piano playing.”
“The best part was I’m in Nashville, Music City, being able to connect with all these country artists doing what I was doing. They were up and coming artists going back to their hometowns to play shows. I was able to support myself through grad school playing piano on the side. It’s been great to still be here doing what I love.”
Q. Was is difficult to leave your family farm to pursue your music career in Nashville?
A. “When you write a song with someone you really get to know a person in that 4 to even 8 hour writing session. You talk about your life and a big part of that conversation in any writing scenario is usually that I came from a farm and then leaving the farm to pursue your dreams, but going back to the farm to help during harvest. It was tough to leave the farm and go to the big city, but Nashville has that small town feel. I love going back once a month to see people and play at my parents’ bar.”
Q. How would you describe your musical influence and style?
A. “Growing up there was always Billy Joel and The Beach Boys. I played Piano Man by Billy Joel many times. My brother got me started playing piano; I would listen to a Beach Boys tune and loved their harmony and melodies. Phil Vasser is a big influence of mine; he’s been the piano man of country music. I love his lyric ability and what he does at the piano. I look forward to keeping that tradition alive myself.”
Q. What was the inspiration for your latest project? What does it mean to you?
A. “I released my current single called Town You Never Heard Of. It’s an ode to myself growing up in a small town in the Midwest. I enjoy seeing my hometown crowd appreciate the tune. My hometown fans mean everything to me and being able to share this tune with the world has been amazing. The piano is a central focus of my music, but my lyrics about growing up in a small town on a farm is going to stay in my music.”
Q. What do you enjoy or look forward to most about writing, recording or performing music? Tell me more about the process.
A. “Everyday you start with a blank document; it’s like when a painter starts with a blank canvas. On that canvas you paint a picture of whatever you’re feeling that day. I enjoy sharing my stories of growing up in a small town and on the farm with other writers, both emotional and funny. It’s cool to see the story of however I’m feeling come to life on a blank piece of paper. Nothing gives greater satisfaction than seeing your song come to life in the studio, especially with some of the greatest musicians in Nashville.”
Q. What is a memorable experience for you in your music career and how has it impacted you?
A. “The event that’s impacted me the most is signing on with my management company. I have a great team behind me. My producer understands and sees the direction of my music in regards to where I came from. They’ve been a blessing to me in moving forward with my current single and finding opportunities to perform in venues that cater to my style of music.”
Q. What advice would you give to someone who may have a dream in music, but is struggling with taking the steps to make it a reality?
A. “Whatever fires you up, like for me I hear the firing up of a tractor back home in a cornfield, take that and run with it. The best way to do that is to show up and be apparent in the community you see yourself in. Upon moving to Nashville in 2012, I would go out and network to make sure I was meeting people and connecting with them in whatever way I could.”
“Eric Burgett, one of the most unique talents you will find in Music City. His writing and performing definitely fit in with what is out there on the radio, but with his piano base, he definitely sets himself apart.” – Billboard Magazine
Q. Can you tell me some of your exciting plans for 2018? What long-term goals do you have for your career?
A. “At the beginning of January, we played a fair showcase in Indianapolis in hopes of landing more county fair and festival shows. We recently played one in Illinois as well. We will be hearing back from a lot of those towns to get more exposure in the summer. I’m most excited about putting out new music. We are hoping towards the summer to work on a EP to release five or six new tunes.”
“My fiancé and I are getting married in June and she plays a big part in my career in supporting me. She’s seen the ride of my music ever since ten years ago when we met. She’s from Chicago and we met in our college town of central Illinois. We went our separate ways after college and reconnected years later.”
If you make a trip to Nashville, you might catch Eric playing for the Nashville Ballet, church on Sundays, on an episode of “Nashville,” or even teaching piano at Belmont University as one of the youngest professors in the school of music. However Eric will always have the farm fields of the Midwest in his heart and music. “There’s nothing like having a hometown fan base and having that front porch light to go back home to,” says Eric.
To listen to Eric’s music and follow him on social media visit: