Local Musician Check-in: Erin Lunsford

Posted on October 23, 2013 by


943105_374573009327998_2092056549_nIf you live in Charlottesville, by now you have probably heard of Erin Lunsford. This talented lady has been going hard in the Charlottesville music scene since 2008. She began as a solo artist, using her sultry and powerful vocals to perform some truly ambitious songs, like Etta James’ “At Last” and Aretha Franklin’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”.

In 2012, Erin added four male musicians to her band, and thus local treasure Erin & The Wildfire was born. Over the past year, the quintet has moved from unpaid performances at parties and dive bars to opening slots at The Jefferson and The Southern (for Mingo Fishtrap and Chamomile & Whiskey, respectively).

This Friday, they will be returning to The Southern, this time as headliner, to celebrate the release of their first EP.

This week, I was able to catch up with Erin and the gang to discuss the band’s beginnings, their pre-show rituals, and why they want to start a Wildfire.

Tell us a little about yourselves. Where are you from? If not Cville, when did you come here?

We all met in Cville, although we all come from different kingdoms in Virginia – Ryan and Matt are from Virginia Beach, Nick is from Waynesboro, and I am from Fincastle. Cville is now home sweet home for the Wildfire.

When and why did you start playing music/singing? What instruments do you play?

We met serendipitously through a UVa student recording/performance group called ORecords. I was doing the singer/songwriter thing around Cville and roped the guys into playing with me.

Most influential artist?

Erin: Dolly Parton
Matt: Cake
Ryan: Led Zeppelin
Nick: Steve Gadd

When did you write your first song? What was it about?

I have been writing songs for years. My first one is called “East of Me”, a nice little folksy singer/songwriter tune. But the first original the band put together was “Hey James.” The song is about one of my romantic flings that was going swimmingly until I found out James had a girlfriend. When I confronted him about the girlfriend, James said, “You never asked…”

942023_394573390661293_623435948_nWhat influences your writing?

Drum circles and single-player video games played as a group.

What aspects of life excite you and stir your affections, fuel your passions?

Heartbreak for sure, but also interesting people. We’ve written some material about the characters we come across and the people we love. We love to be goofy whenever applicable.

When did you play your first gig? What emotions and thoughts ran through your head after finishing?

Our first gig was funny, it was Sigma Pi’s Annual Surf ‘n Turf party. Typically held in early April, this event draws the frattiest of bros and the shortest of dresses and we rocked it out. We played some really cheesy 90’s covers and some originals. It was a beautiful sunny day and we got paid nothing. Thoughts that ran through our heads after the show: should I go on the slip-n-slide?, did they run out of watery beer?, remember to practice harmonies before the actual performance next time, let’s never take our shirts off during a show again.

Do you get pumped or nervous pre-show?

We get hyped up. If we were all beefy football players we might chest bump each other before shows, but nerves seem to fade when we hit the stage. Sometimes we huddle pre-show and attempt to reenact children’s hockey movies from the 90’s.

What does a day in the life of a modern day band look like from your perspective?

It looks challenging, uncertain, frustrating, but rewarding and exquisite. Baby steps, baby steps. This time last year we were playing in dive bars for 1 free beer per band member and this year we are promoting our debut recording with several prominent Charlottesville venues under our belt and a growing fan base to accompany it. Generating quality original material and having our own unique sound is something we focus on heavily. We don’t want to copy and we do want to be appreciated.

What do you want people to take from hearing your music?


We play/perform with the idea that every show could be our last. Sometimes you’ve got a show booked at the end of a long week and you’re dragging, your feet hurt, your voice is tired, but that’s your chance to connect to someone and to create an experience with your band mates. Every show with the band makes our bond stronger.

We want to inspire excitement in our audience. We want them to be moved and get that bursting-heart sensation that comes from a soul filled to the brim with dance and groove. In essence, we want to start a Wildfire.

What does the not-so-distant future hold for Erin & The Wildfire?

We’ve got our big CD release show this Friday, October 25th, at the Southern, which is a huge deal for us!

Other than that: Travels. Building our fan base and making friends. Recording a full length album.

Describe yourselves in 10 words:

Banjo-Kazooie, smokey, thereisnosecondplace, real good, real sweet, quack, Quack, QUACK!