Curtis Eller

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Curtis Eller's American Circus
Curtis Eller's American Circus (26445906380).jpg
Background information
OriginNew York, NY, United States
GenresAmericana, alternative country, folk
Years active2000–present
MembersCurtis Eller, Louis Landry, Dana Marks, Shea Broussard, Bradley Blackwell, Hugh Crumley

Curtis Paul Eller (born 1970, Detroit, Michigan) is a banjo player, songwriter and rock & roll singer based in Durham, NC.

Eller's work draws on an abundance of direct or indirect influences from the first half of the 20th century, combined with a modern perspective and a healthy dose of rock & roll energy. Many of the lyrics deal with American politics both historical and contemporary.[1] He got an early introduction to show business when his father ran the Hiller Old Tyme Circus in Detroit, Michigan.[2]

The songwriting draws on many historical people and events but addresses contemporary American culture. Lyrical subjects have ranged from pigeon racing and performing elephants to sweatshop fires and presidential assassinations and the Hartford circus fire of 1944.[3] Historical figures as diverse as Buster Keaton, Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, Joe Louis, Jack Ruby, and Elvis Presley appear in the lyrical content.

An excellent and highly intriguing singer/songwriter who is based in New York City, Curtis Eller has successfully brought a variety of influences to his unorthodox folk-rock vision. The banjo-playing Eller's work has an old-time feel, drawing on an abundance of direct or indirect influences from the '20s, '30s, and '40s (including country singer Jimmie Rodgers, cowboy icon Gene Autry, and Mississippi Delta bluesman Robert Johnson). But Eller's material is far from a carbon copy of music from that era -- there is plenty of rock bite and attitude in his rootsy work, which also contains elements of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and the ballsy outlaw country of Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. Eller, consciously or unconsciously, reminds listeners what Dylan, Cash, Son House, Pete Seeger, and Haggard have in common -- they are all known for being effective storytellers, and storytelling is where Eller himself shines. --Alex Hederson (Allmusic)[4]

Eller has released four full-length CDs and a two EPs with his band Curtis Eller's American Circus. 1890 (2000), Banjo Music For Funerals (2002), Taking Up Serpents Again (2004), Wirewalkers & Assassins (2008), Saving my Heart for the Butcherman (2012), How to Make It in Hollywood (2014). The recordings feature Eller on banjo and lead vocals and a backing band that consists of upright bass, drums, accordion, pedal steel, tuba, violin and much three-part harmony.

Eller frequently tours the US, UK, Europe and Canada, both as a solo act and as the leader of his band The American Circus. In addition to the usual folk, punk and indie-rock clubs, he has appeared in numerous unusual venues, including funerals, horse races, vaudeville/burlesque revues. He has shared the stage with contortionists, strippers, glass-eaters and folksingers. The live performances are high energy, intensively physical events.

In 2010, Eller relocated to Durham, NC where he continues to record and perform regularly.

In 2015 Eller started working with dancer/choreographer Stacy Wolfson to form The Bipeds. Wolfson and Eller have devised a unique compositional approach that seamlessly combines movement, music and lyrics to create a peculiar and compelling hybrid of dance and song.[5]


  1. ^ [1] American Songwriter Interview
  2. ^ Strumming dark songs of disaster – The Boston Globe
  3. ^ Hartford History: '"Hartford CT," by Curtis Eller's American Circus Archived 2008-05-09 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ allmusic ((( Curtis Eller > Biography )))
  5. ^ "The Bipeds : About".


With The American Circus
Full Length Albums:
1890 (2000)
Taking Up Serpents Again (2004)
Wirewalkers & Assassins (2008)
1890 (2011 Remix)
How to Make It in Hollywood (2014)
A Poison Melody(2019)

Banjo Music For Funerals (2002)
Saving My Heart for the Butcherman (2012)
Baudelaire in a Box: Songs of Anguish (2015)
Henry Kissinger's Dance Party (2016)

With The Bipeds
54 Strange Words (2018)

External links[edit]