Guitarist/violinist Erik Hokkanen is one of Austin’s most colorful and distinguished players. A third generation Finn raised in Florida, Erik relocated to Texas in the early eighties and rapidly built a reputation as a stunning fiddler, multi-instrumentalist and performer.
In ’87 fate stepped in and delivered Erik to the Finnish homeland where he became literally an overnight sensation, gigging around the country in major festivals and local clubs with some of the top players in just about every known field of music. For many, that summer of ’87 still ranks as one of the most magical events in Finnish musical history. Return Finnish tours in ’88 and ’89 introduced Erik to an even greater set of musical collaborators and projects leading to the formation of his band Lumisudet (Snow Wolves).
At home in Texas during the ’90s, Erik remained a regular feature of the exploding Austin music scene, gigging and recording with his own bands including the Mad Cat Trio, Snow Wolves and the aptly named Baby Gorillas. He also worked as hired hand with other Austin groups and musicians such as Bad Livers, Don Walser and Junior Brown. Additionally, Erik was also involved with Norwegian Texan songwriter Erik Moll, gigging and making one album.
Erik’s visibility increased even more with the release of several movies that featured his music or playing, for example DOA, Michael (starring John Travolta), Texas Chain Saw Massacre 3 and The Newton Boys.
Erik’s roots continued to beckon and he returned to Finland twice in the ’90s. In ’94 he went to Helsinki and recorded the Kaustinen Texas album with his trusty cohorts Lumisudet, comprising members of Finland’s top folk music groups JPP, Aldargaz and Helsinki Mandoliners.
In 1998 Erik returned to Helsinki where he was given a Professor of Music post at Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department and it was during this tme that he and Lumisudet reconvened for a second album. Once again featuring the cream of Finnish folk and roots players, In the Heart of a Waking Dream is a brilliant display of skills, energy, diversity and melodies.
Erik returned to Texas after the ’98 Lumisudet sessions and created the project “Erik and the She Wolves” featuring the Tosca String Quartet, a female foursome that now perform with David Byrne. A “She Wolves” album was released only this year.
Today, Erik plays electric guitar and fiddle in his new band, Hip Replacements, a gypsy surf outfit that can be seen Tuesdays at Flipnotics cafe in Austin. He continues to pop up in music joints all over the city with any combination of gypsy surf swing hillbilly lunatic fringe fiddlin’ and pickin’ combos.