There isn’t a much cooler moment for a music fan than when he gets to see one of his favorite artists perform live from within rock-throwing distance. I had the privilege of catching one of mine, singer-songwriter Ernie Halter, at Room 5 in Hollywood. If you’re not familiar with Ernie Halter, he’s a Rock Ridge Music acoustic artist who has made a big splash with millions of fans around the country with his pop-and-soul-influenced songs. Featuring his warm and delicate voice, beautiful melodies, and clever writing, his songs will stick with you long after you’re done listening.

So, as close as I was to Halter, I didn’t throw a rock at him, but the gig was still pretty awesome! The venue was holding its weekly “Songwriters in the Round” and Ernie stopped in to serenade the audience in his stomping grounds. Still touring and gigging in support of his latest album, Franklin & Vermont, he was joined at Room 5 by independent artists Jay Nash, Joel Eckels, and Dawn Thomas for a night of casual acoustic bliss.

Ernie started out his set with a house favorite, “Melissa,” from his Congress Hotel album. This is a fun number with a very uplifting chorus section at “Now that the one you love is gone, you are the girl to carry on…” and audience sing along at “Love is not lost.” Next came “Angel,” a ukulele-led song from his new album that was dedicated to a special lady who had saved him from being stranded in the middle of nowhere with a broken down car and a month left to go on his tour. Turns out, his angel ended up being the woman he later married—and now his angels are the twin girls he’s expecting—giving him one of the most successful car breakdowns in the history of touring musicians!

Midway through the night, he pulled out another favorite of mine, “Love in LA,” from his Lo-Fidelity album. This came with a funny story about the “Charlie Brown” line, and how he was considering getting rid of it because of how awkward it sounded to him… “Remember how Charlie Brown chased that red headed girl around? Now I know just how he feels.” It’s actually pretty random that those lyrics come up in the song. Apparently, the day he started thinking about it, he ended up playing a show at which this big bouncer-like guy came up to him and started choking up in a really shocking way. He said, “That line about Charlie Brown, man, it really got to me!!” And so, Ernie kept the lyrics.

He later decided to make musical love to the audience with his Otis Redding-inspired “Something’s Come Over Me,” playing at his “baby making tempo” as he stated, and calling out how much he wanted to “let the neighbors know” about all this “boat rockin’” that was going on. Otis indeed. He ended his last round with “Almost You” from Franklin & Vermont—a beautiful song alluding to the idea of not being able to find anyone who is as perfect as a love that was lost. Sighs all around.

One of the great reasons to go and see Ernie Halter live is that he exhibits a sense of honesty—a guy like anyone else who is sincere, kind, and unafraid to show emotion. His voice captivates his audiences and pulls you into the stories he tells, and you can very clearly see that he tells these stories straight from the heart, playing and singing the emotions that he’s felt throughout his life in one way or another. An outstanding instrumentalist, he effortlessly switches from piano to guitar to ukulele, even mid-song (if say, his amplification goes out, which it did!), showing us the true extent of his musicianship. Best of all, he’s a personality that’s just plain easy to like. For all that, he remains still one of my favorite contemporary artists, and someone I HIGHLY recommend seeing live for what is usually a very reasonable ticket price.

Ernie Halter will be spending the next couple months touring around the country, making scheduled appearances at venues but also doing some of his “House Concert” stops, which he has said many great things about. What great things do you ask? Well, stay tuned for my interview with Ernie, in which he talks about life, love, touring, his latest album, and more!

Ernie Halter Set List:

1)    Melissa
2)    Angel
3)    Love in LA
4)    Lonely
5)    Something’s Come Over Me
6)    Almost You

Ernie Halter Tour Dates:

03/20 – House Concert – Phoenix, AZ
03/30 – House Concert – Cedar Rapids, IA
03/31 – NACA Northern Plains – St. Paul, MN
04/01 – Wildwood Station Pavilion – Marshfield, WI
04/02 – Bryant Lake Bowl – Minneapolis, MN
04/03 – House Concert – Palatine, IL
04/04 – House Concert – Indianapolis, IN
04/06 – UNC Charlotte – Charlotte, NC
04/07 – White Mule – Columbia, SC
04/09 – House Concert – Tuscaloosa, AL
04/10 – Smith’s Olde Bar – Atlanta, GA
04/13 – The Bitter End – New York, NY
04/14 – House Concert – Springfield, MA
04/15 – House Concert – Northfield, NJ
04/16 – Seton Hill University – Greensburg, PA
04/17 – House Concert – Waterford, MI
04/22 – House Concert – Little Rock, AR
05/07 – House Concert – Seattle, WA

You can purchase his latest album, Franklin & Vermont, from the iTunes Store.

For more information on Ernie Halter:!/ErnieHalterMusic