Music Man


There’s a single line in Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” that’s so warm and honest it makes me forget the song’s not about love. When Eric Kufs sings “and your arm felt nice wrapped ’round my shoulder,” it does more than play tricks on my ears; it stops me in my tracks. And in the middle of Third Street Promenade.

In addition to being a singer-songwriter and freelance musician, Eric Kufs is a busker. He’s been performing in Santa Monica (and in Huntington Beach and outside City Hall) since 2008, and has slowly, unknowingly become a part of my weekend routine, the soundtrack to my Sunday morning walk to the corner newsstand.

Over the past two years I saw Eric set up in front of the Apple Store, a tip jar and a stack of CDs on a small folding table at his side. I watched him wipe his brow between the songs that fill his sometimes bluesy, sometimes folksy sets, and I got to know the warble in his voice—more noticeable when he sings original material than when he’s covering Paul Simon, Van Morrison, or Bob Dylan.

And then, for the better part of June, I wondered where the hell he was. Turns out he’s hardly a struggling street artist; Eric spent the early summer traveling with his band, Common Rotation, which has opened for the Indigo Girls, performed at Largo at the Coronet, plans to release a live album with Dan Bern this fall, and has an upcoming show on September 4 at Hotel Café.

Yes, he’ll be performing solo most Saturdays and Sundays on the Promenade from 12-2 and 2-4 until then, but if you catch him there be sure to tip; you’ll be getting off cheap for a weekend concert.