A consummate musician, Eric Nagler has raised the sophistication of children's music beyond just a guy and a guitar. With fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and his famous "sewerphone," Nagler's sense of fun with music is both educational and contagious.
After exploring the folk music scene of Greenwich Village, New York, in the late '60s, Nagler moved to Canada and joined Mariposa in the Schools, a groundbreaking cooperative venture to bring children's music to Canadian public schools. While in MITS, he worked with Raffi, Sharon, Lois & Bram, Rick & Judy, and a host of other children's musicians and producers. Sharon, Lois & Bram invited Nagler to join their new company, Elephant Records; he provided much of the musical versatility on the first Elephant releases with his lively fiddle and banjo.
Nagler soon warranted an album of his own, Fiddle Up a Tune. The 1982 release featured classic folk songs, such as "Barlow Knife" and "Cindy," mixed in with swing songs from the '40s, such as "The Booglie Wooglie Piggy." He started to tour more widely in Canada and in the United States, and was a featured guest on Sharon, Lois & Bram's Elephant Show on television.
In 1985, Nagler released his second album on Elephant Records, Come on In. The album continued his relaxed yet rich arrangements of several original compositions, such as "I Don't Wanna (Have an Iguana)" and "Too Sick for School," as well as classic folk songs done in a rollicking style. Come on In also boasted a charming duet of "Button Up Your Overcoat," featuring Nagler and his eight-year-old son Christopher. The album won a Parent's Choice Award upon its re-release in 1996.
Nagler's touring schedule expanded once again in the late '80s, boosted by his fun-loving style and wacky instruments. One such instrument was the "sewerphone," a contraption made out of PVC pipe, a washing machine agitator, and a mouthpiece from a tuba. His inventiveness with instruments has encouraged his audience not only to sing along, but to play along with spoons, keys, and pocket combs.
In 1989, he left Elephant Records to join Rounder Records, and released Improvise with Eric Nagler. The album featured a similar mix of old favorites and originals, including "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" and "Dueling Tubas." Nagler again capitalized on his musical versatility, playing such instruments as the slide whistle, the psaltery, and the mandolin banjo.
In 1992, Nagler released I Can't Sit Down on MCA. Although the album featured the tried-and-true mix of classics and originals, it had limited sales and distribution. He returned with a splash in 1996 with a television situation comedy called Eric's World, and an album on MCA of the same name.