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Eddie From Ohio




by Bryn Barber / Virginia Soul Records

Too energetic to be labeled just "folk", and not angry enough to be pegged "alternative", Eddie from Ohio continues to defy description with their unique blend of vocals and acoustic instrumentation. A bedrock foundation of hand and stick percussion and a textural flavoring of guitar/bass/harmonica support the four-part harmonies and lyrically-driven original music. While this combination has drawn comparisons like the Grateful Dead meets Peter, Paul & Mary, or like Jewel fronts the Bare Naked Ladies, EFO fuses a multitude of musical influences to create their own trademark sound. Performing Songwriter writes, "The manic strumminess recalls Ani DiFranco or Dave Matthews, but there's also a deep undercurrent of high, lonesome mountain harmony that should appeal to fans of Alison Krauss and Union Station."

With this trademark sound, EFO has produced nine CDs independently (selling upwards of 150,000 copies to date), toured from Florida to Washington State, cultivated massive postal and email lists, received air play from hundreds of radio stations worldwide, been invited to play the Main Stage at prestigious festivals like Philadelphia Folk, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (Hillsdale, NY), Telluride Bluegrass Festival (CO) and Strawberry Music Festival (CA), appeared on syndicated radio programs Mountain Stage, West Coast Live and World Cafe, & were awarded "Best Contemporary Folk Group" by the Washington Area Music Association six times since 1997.

Not bad for a Virginia-based band that began in 1991 playing covers in neighborhood bars when three James Madison University graduates (Robbie Schaefer, Eddie Hartness & Michael Clem) teamed up with Virginia Tech alumnae Julie Murphy (now Murphy Wells). After a popular seven year Tuesday night residency at Bad Habits Grille in Arlington, VA, EFO graduated from town taverns to renowned listening rooms and concert series throughout the country, where their tight harmonies and humorous lyrics, set against an eclectic array of musical forms, can be featured to best advantage. Since signing with a national booking agent in 1996, the band has covered the country, from The Somerville Theater outside of Boston to The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.

As far as their hometown haunt goes, according to the 2021 book, All Roads Lead To The Birchmere, "Eddie from Ohio holds the Birchmere record of selling out three-night shows... since 1999 they've sold out 35 times."  

The band slowed down since September, 2005 when vocalist Wells was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, after an intense year of chemotherapy, Wells is on the road to recovery and remains active in cancer cure fundraising. In 2006, bassist/guitarist Clem released his first solo CD (produced by Hartness), and guitarist Schaefer has found quite a calling in children's music, having produced a successful CD and hosting a nightly satellite radio show on XMKids, as well as putting out a new solo CD in December 2008, Strange & Lovely World. Percussionist Hartness continues to keep the beat for a number of local acts and stays active in the world of audio engineering.

As of August 2022, following an incredible three-plus decade run, the EFO machine has made the collective decision to step back from performing live indefinitely.  To quote the band's press announcement "We have loved making music for you and, 31 years down the road, find ourselves healthy, happy, and filled with gratitude. Most of all, we love each other and we love you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts."