Curtis Paul Eller (born 1970, Detroit, Michigan) is a banjo player, songwriter and rock & roll singer based in Durham, NC.
Eller's work draws on an abundance of direct or indirect influences from the first half of the 20th Century, combined with a modern perspective and a healthy dose of rock & roll energy. Many of the lyrics deal with American politics both historical and contemporary. He got an early introduction to show business when his father ran the Hiller Old Tyme Circus in Detroit, Michigan.
The songwriting draws on many historical people and events but addresses contemporary American culture. Lyrical subjects have ranged from pigeon racing and performing elephants to sweatshop fires and presidential assassinations and the Hartford circus fire of 1944. Historical figures as diverse as Buster Keaton, Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, Joe Louis, Jack Ruby, and Elvis Presley appear in the lyrical content.
Eller has released four full length CDs and a two EPs with his band Curtis Eller's American Circus. 1890 (2000), Banjo Music For Funerals (2002), Taking Up Serpents Again (2004), Wirewalkers & Assassins (2008), Saving my Heart for the Butcherman (2012), How to Make It in Hollywood (2014). The recordings feature Eller on banjo & lead vocals and a backing band that consists of upright bass, drums, accordion, pedal steel, tuba, violin and lots of three part harmony.