May 23-26, 2024 ❘ Martinsville, VA

This girl is on fire

Erin Lunsford might be the hardest-working artist at Rooster Walk

It’s no wonder Erin Lunsford feels at home at Rooster Walk—she was born in the middle of festival country. She’s working out of Richmond these days, but her family still lives around Floyd and Roanoke.

“I just feel like this is my people,” Lunsford says. “My cousin is Isaac Hadden, who’s playing this weekend also. So I’m just really happy to be here.”

In addition to playing two sets with her band, Erin and the Wildfire, Lunsford is an Artist at Large (AAL) for Rooster Walk 13. She joins at least seven other musicians to make up the festival’s house band, which is scheduled for three themed sets over three days: 1970s music, Jerry Garcia, and JamGrass. (See the RW13 band schedule here.) However, in the true spirit of “at large,” Lunsford expects to pop up as a guest in a number of other artists’ sets.

“I’m gonna be all up in everybody’s business for the next four days,” she laughs. Lunsford has played with fellow AAL Josh Shilling, a singer and keyboard player, but not with the other artists at large. “I can’t wait to get on stage with people and just kind of let loose and see where the music takes us. It’s such a conversation between musicians. I’m just so looking forward to the collaboration and speaking the musical language with people that I’ve never shared the stage with.”

Lunsford looks for every opportunity to make music, pursuing a solo career in addition to her work with the Wildfire. She has released solo music online and maintains a residency at Common House Richmond, performing every first Wednesday at the club.

What’s the difference, you might ask, between Lunsford’s solo work and her indie-pop-soul-funk blend with the Wildfire?

“If you’d asked me that five years ago, I would’ve said my solo project is so Americana,” she says. “But it doesn’t feel that way anymore. I was raised on bluegrass music, and I played claw hammer banjo and flatpicking guitar. So that’s where my songwriting originated. But as of recent, like the past few years, I’m writing a lot of soul and pop music and indie music and kind of using them for both projects.”

The Wildfire released its album “Touchy Feely” in April 2022 after a long break from recording — “five years,” Lunsford says. “That felt bad.” Right before Rooster Walk 13, she and the band had just finished instrumental tracks for a new album they hope to release this fall. Feeling inspired after a good year back on track, Lunsford says she wrote at least 20 songs, 10 of which will appear on the new record.

The rest of the summer will be dedicated to laying down her vocal tracks and playing a scattered slate of festivals and other gigs. And while Rooster Walk is close to her hometown and her heart, there’s something about the high-level performances at any festival that supercharges Lunsford’s creativity.

“When I get to see so many different people of this caliber, I get so motivated to go and write and go and practice, and it just inspires me,” she says. “It makes me want to go play more music whenever I see somebody else play.”