The “big dream” for many singer-songwriters is to have their music used in film or TV scores. For Ernest Troost, it was the other way around. Troost became an Emmy Award-winning composer of movie and TV scores first, and only recently became an award-winning folk-blues songwriter, as well. “Songwriting was something I had put in the trunk and sat on for 20 years because it was an impractical thing to do,” he said. “I hadn’t done it since high school.”
Ernest Troost will return to Fiddlers Crossing Saturday, April 22, at 7 p.m.
On his way to a successful career as a film and TV composer, Troost studied jazz guitar as well as classical music at Berklee College of Music in Boston. After coming to Hollywood, he earned an Emmy Award and numerous Emmy nominations by composing scores for TV and Films, including the cult classic, ‘Tremors,’ and HBO and Hallmark Hall of Fame specials and movies. Troost also composed, arranged and produced two critically praised albums for singer Judy Collins.
Then, about seven years ago, he had an epiphany while in McCabe’s Guitar shop in Santa Monica that made him want to bone up on his Piedmont blues guitar style and write more songs.
A month later he was back at McCabe’s for their Open Mic night. First-time Open Mic performers might take heart from Troost’s trepidation. He thought, “The scariest thing I could do in my life was write a song and go up on stage and play it.” When he performed his song, “All Boats are Gonna Rise,” he said, “I thought I was going to have a heart attack onstage, I really did. But I got through it.”
People went nuts for the song. A few weeks later, at another McCabe’s Open Mic, he played “Evangeline,” a song that has now become a hit for singer Susie Glaze. The soundman grabbed Troost afterwards and said, “That’s the best song I’ve heard at an open mic in the last 10 years.”
His reception at McCabe’s gave Troost the confidence to focus on songwriting. In 2004, he released his first solo album, “All the boats are Gonna Rise,” which won accolades both for the songs and his guitar playing. He started playing coffeehouses, house concerts and festivals, and launched a monthly singer-songwriter night in Venice called the Juke Joint Gang. Word spread about his songs, and other LA performers began to cover them. In 2009, he was the New Folk Winner at the prestigious Kerrville Festival in Texas.
It’s not surprising that for a cinematic composer, Troost would write story songs. He has a lyrical taste for earthy ramblers, gamblers and small-town dreamers, as well as murder tales and other dark stories.
When he was a boy, his father would read aloud tales such as Coldridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” and Poe’s “Raven.” “I think their musicality and dark romantic nature had a powerful effect on me,” he said. “It’s storytelling that really excites me. I call my songwriting style cinematic-folk. I try to create a vivid world of images and music that envelops the listener.” Along with the dark side, the “vivid” world of Ernest Troost songs is also a world of hope and love.
For videos and samples, go to http://www.ernesttroost.com/ and fiddlerscrossing.com.
Fiddlers Crossing is at 206 East F Street at Robinson Street, in Downtown Tehachapi. Tickets may be purchased next door at Mountain Music, at Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture in Old Town, and Lucky’s Barbershop, or online through Fiddlerscrossing.com. Tickets to the concert are $20, and as always, coffee and goodies are included. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. sharp.