WRITTEN BY MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER/For 21st Century Media
Having spent the good part of the road this past summer with his high-energy hard rock outfit Godsmack headlining the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival, frontman Sully Erna is taking it easy this December by doing a brief run of East Coast solo dates leading up to the holidays, including a stop tonight at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside. Then it’s back to a string of festival dates scheduled from February through June in places like Australia, Germany and Bulgaria.
What’s interesting about Erna’s solo tour is he isn’t just another frontman taking all the money home for himself by playing songs by his multi-platinum “day job” band. In fact, he’s still touring solo and bringing life to his four year old solo effort Avalon. That doesn’t seem strange at all when considering the fact that he began to conceive that album 15 years before it even came out in September of 2010.
The seeds for Avalon were planted back when Erna was in his pre-Godsmack outfit Strip Mind, discovering Australian world fusion band Dead Can Dance’s 1993 album Into the Labyrinth. Their eclectic, mystical, hand drumming approach filtered into Godsmack hits like “Voodoo” and “Serenity.” And while Godsmack reached international acclaim on the strength of those songs and singles like “Awake,” “Shine Down” and “Running Blind,” Erna kept the ideas percolating for something else.
An organic process of assembling the right musicians began with Erna going straight to the influential source, recruiting Dead Can Dance percussionist Niall Gregory and longtime friend and blues vocalist Lisa Guyer, each of whom introduced the guitarists, keyboardists and cellists that would fill out Avalon’s diverse sound, utilizing the hypnotic sounds of tribal rhythms, melodic pianos and cellos, and haunting vocals that took over two years to compose, record and finally release.
Putting in that sort of effort over such a long period of time – approaching 20 years at this point – it’s no wonder Erna wants to continue celebrating it. That doesn’t mean he won’t be throwing in the odd Godsmack song or three; and expect few covers ending up in the mix too, as he’s been pulling out Pink Floyd, Metallica and even The Beatles in some recent performances.
IF YOU GO
What: An Evening with Sully Erna
When: 8 p.m. December 10
Where: Keswick Theatre, 291 North Keswick Ave., Glenside, PA
Info: Call 215-572-7650 or visit www.keswicktheatre.com