Members of Eric Pettit Lion perform at The Mill on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. The group hails from Burlington, Iowa and considers themselves as weekend warriors with their unique blend of old timey folk music. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

The Mill veteran Eric Pettit Lion returns with Sean Costanza


A family-style band brings a family-style banquet of music in their most recent visit to Iowa City.

By Troy Aldrich

Two bands graced the Mill’s stage Feb. 9, both from Iowa.

The two groups from Burlington, Iowa, came to the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St, to play music from their new albums. Eric Pettit Lion, which just released One Shot, and opener Sean Costanza, who just released Silver City, played hits from their new releases.

For Eric Pettit Lion, it was a family affair. The group began as a duo; Eric Pettit on guitar and vocals and uncle Tim Buhmeyer on harmonica and vocals.

Since their first album, the group has added Eric’s cousin Ed Mansheim on rhythm guitar and tenor saxophone and Micah Oleson on bass. The group no longer features the piano that was recorded on its 2016 album, Electric Lies.

During its set on Feb. 9, every member took his turn on lead vocals. They opened their set with Pettit on vocals, he was followed by Buhmeyer, who brought huge energy behind the mic on several tracks.

Eric Pettit Lion focused on tracks from its newest album, including débuting “My Mistake,” and Pettit introduced the track with a story about the music video they made for the song. In the video, the band members ride around in classic cars that were rebuilt and restored by Buhmeyer.

“We wanted to use our minivans; we thought that might be more realistic,” Pettit said.

Halfway through the set, Mansheim picked up the tenor saxophone. He is featured on the title track from the new album. The song was preceded by the title track from the group’s first album, Lion.

The song “Lion” was clearly a crowd-favorite. Hoots and hollers came from the back of the bar when Pettit announced it; it even drew a few couples to the dance floor.

Eric Pettit Lion continued the party with tracks from One Shot. The set ended with a single-song encore.

Eric Pettit Lion brought longtime friend Costanza to open for them. Costanza’s recent release, Silver City, received Grammy consideration.

“We’ve been doing this a long time, and to receive this consideration shows we are headed in the right direction,” Costanza said.

The Mill proved to be a great setting for Costanza’s soft lyrics.

“The Mill’s crowd is what makes it the most special,” he said. “Singer/songwriters like me appreciate crowds like these, because it’s important they hear the lyrics.”

Costanza, who grew up in New Mexico, wound up in Warsaw, Illinois, following a woman he met at the University of North Texas. His songs take listeners down this road, as he talks about love and heartache, combined with experiences traveling from the Southwest.

Costanza brought Chris Robbins with him. Robbins is a very talented steel guitar player who recorded on Costanza’s last album, recorded in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Previously, Costanza recorded at local recording studio Flat Black Studios.

Iowa City and the Mill have shown great love to Eric Pettit Lion.

“We are big supporters of [Pettit Lion],” said Andre Perry, the talent buyer for the Mill. “We are happy to bring him in any time.”

Perry, who also books events for the Englert, has a big hand in the Mission Creek Festival.

“We are here to serve the community with national artists, while feeding interest with what’s happening locally,” Perry said.

Eric Pettit Lion will also play at the Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City later this year.

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