|Eric WilfongEric Wilfong plays electric bass guitar and sings lead vocals for The Shakers. Eric’s voice was made for classic rhythm & blues and rock ‘n’ roll. As a life-long fan of Otis Redding, Otis would be proud to hear Eric’s cover of ”These Arms of Mine” featured on our new CD. His bass playing alone puts him in a league of unique and accomplished electric bass players that perform in the Washington, D.C. area. The word “legend” is sometimes over-used, but “local legend” is an appropriate reference for Eric Wilfong. Eric started playing in the early 1960s in a group called The Shadows, which included Johnny Theim, Tommy Peter and Davey Arnold. From there, he joined forces with Eddie Becker and Mel Raff in a group called The Fidelities. Despite their young age, The Fidelities were an opening act forLink Wray and his Raymen at Dino’s Ranch in Olney, MD in the early 60’s and advertised on WDON AM radio by Barry Richards.And then came The Velours. The Velours started out as a trio, including Eric, Eddie and Mark McInturff, playing for local teen clubs and also appearing live on local television. Later, a three-piece horn section was added and the Washington, D.C. area had its own bona fide blue-eyed soul super group. The Velours’ covers of R&B artists such as Otis Redding and James Brown earned them the adulation of both fans and fellow musicians.The Velours were the Montgomery County “Maryland Battle of the Bands Champions” of 1965 and 1966.
After The Velours came college and a variety of bands. One of the first ventures after college was playing with local legend Robert Gordon and the Confidentials. Robert Gordon went on to become a much-heralded rock-a-billy artist playing with local guitar heroes that included Danny Gatton and Link Wray. From there, Eric played with a group calledSide Show, which included such local luminaries as John Hurd, Larry Swacker and “Thumper” -best known for his work as a member of The Fallen Angels.
A stint with a group called Parsec included other local luminaries Frank Radice, Chris Hayes and Whammie-winning, blue-eyed soul great – Tommy Lepson. Other adventures included playing with Willie and the Hand Jivesand opening shows for The Drifters and Link Wray. Eric’s blues skills were sharpened by playing with blues giant Bobby Radcliffe, now playing in the New York area. Then came retirement from performing until 1990.
In 1990, Eric was pulled out of “retirement” by Les Hatley to play with members of the 1960’s local band called The Showmen for a one-time reunion. The Showmen were formed and led by Tom Carrico, who has managed renowned local recording artists that include Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Nighthawks and Bill Kirchen. Tom’s father asked Les to get the musicians from the old days together to play a few songs for a surprise birthday party and the rest is history. From that effort, a number of the musicians stayed on to form The Blue Dog Band featuring Eric on lead vocals and bass, which actively performed for over 11 years.
After The Blue Dog Band, Eric, Les, and Ralph Brown joined The Shakerswith Eddie and the late Phil Dirt. Over the past couple of years The Shakerswere delighted to add Jim Horn on keyboards and vocals and Waverly Milor on harmonica and vocals to form our current line-up of musicians.