For Eric Barnhart, the piano is more than an instrument – it's home. From the age of three when he began playing by ear on his brother's toy xylophone to now performing five times weekly year-round, no other place has been as inspiring, challenging, or comforting as when his fingers are on the keys, sharing stories through song.
Wherever Eric has found himself over the years – growing up in the rolling fields of the rural Midwest, studying jazz and Latin music amidst the clubs and beaches of Miami, embracing both sides of the gospel coin in the “New South” of Atlanta, or exploring bluegrass and its crossover appeal in his current home of Greenville, SC – the piano has been his way of embracing the local culture, absorbing it and making it his own. These multiple facets of experience help serve Eric’s life ambition: to tell meaningful stories through music. The crowds at his performances are never quite sure where their collective musical journey will carry them next - the sounds of sassy blues from a swanky jazz club; a driving tumbao for the salsa dance floor; a plaintive folk melody drifting off the mountain cabin back-porch, or a dozen other destinations. One thing, however, can be rest assured: it will be worth the trip.
Since moving to Greenville in 2008, Eric has played regularly at every respected and established stage and venue in town. Eric was the house pianist for the Brown Street Club until its closing in 2013. He began his residency as house pianist for the historic Westin Poinsett Hotel later that year. Other musical guests would frequently join him, adding vocals, upright bass, trumpet, saxophone, violin, cello, percussion and more. In 2020, Eric was invited to move his residency to local music icon, the Bohemian Cafe, where he plays both solo and with the same assortment of talented artists every Thursday night.
In addition to his residency at the Bohemian Cafe, Eric serves as the Director of Music Ministry at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Travelers Rest, SC. He’d be glad to join you in worship Sundays at their 9am blended service or 11am traditional service. Eric believes strongly in local theater as well and tries to fit in performing with local and regional productions whenever possible, including past shows with Atlanta’s Theatrical Outfit, Actor’s Express and Theatre in the Square along with Greenville’s Centre Stage and Little Theatre.
With all of these influences, training and experience, one may wonder: what kind of musician is Eric Barnhart? Although he prefers to eschew labels and let the music speak for itself, when pressed, Eric describes himself as a contemplative pianist. He believes that all great music should make you feel; the best music should make you think as well. He hopes his music invites you to do both.