These self-described “road warriors” spent the better part of the last decade touring, but in the last few years the group has scaled back their travel schedule to one trip a month. They choose the “crème de la crème” appearances, says Michael Clem, who plays bass, guitar, and sings vocals, concentrating on places “where we know a good show is inevitable.”
Albany, as it turns out, is such a place.
Recently, the well-traveled Eddies were in Albuquerque, New Mexico, enjoying fish tacos, blue burritos, and enchiladas at the High Noon Saloon in the heart of Old Town, and looking forward to their trip to New York state. It took a while for them to find a home in Albany, Clem said, but they found one at The Egg. “It’s a freak of architecture,” Clem allows, but he says they always enjoy playing the ovoid venue.
The band began as friends, and their music has an open, friendly feel to it, as though everyone’s invited to join their good time. Grade school pals Clem and Robbie Schaefer both went to James Madison University, where they met Eddie Hartness. Clem and Schaefer, who plays guitar, formed the Jellyfish Blues Band. Then, in 1991, they asked Julie Murphy Wells, another high school friend, to sing with them, and Hartness to join them on drums. (Eddie from Ohio was Hartness’s nickname. It began as a reference to another local musician who was known as Ed from Ohio, and so Hartness became Eddie from Ohio. The newly established band soon took up the handle as its own.)
Initially, EFO played covers, but they soon began to write their own songs, and critics have praised the group for its stunning harmonies and clever songwriting. “EFO boast impressive harmonies, quite possibly the best female vocalist in the Mid-Atlantic, and an example of intelligent songwriting that should be the standard by which all followers should be measured,” wrote Music Monthly. The Boston Globe wrote that the band’s “quirky, hilariously smart-alecky songs are bringing young fans to folk and a welcome spirit of fun to the often dour world of the songwriter.”
Eddie from Ohio has recorded nine albums and won four Wammies (an award presented by the Washington Area Music Association). And they have a loyal fan following, a group that calls themselves Edheads. “They’re employed,” said Clem. “Self-reliant. Peaceful. Easygoing. The kind of people you would invite to your wedding.”
Eddie from Ohio is the kind of band you’d invite to dinner (and hope they’d do an after-dinner show). But since you probably won’t make it onto their itinerary, you’ll simply have to go see them.