After lying dormant for years, Erik Kang's violin helped him tour the world. All the while, it kept him connected to the music scene he left behind.

After lying dormant for years, Erik Kang's violin helped him tour the world. All the while, it kept him connected to the music scene he left behind.

Three years ago Kang joined Margot & the Nuclear So & So's, a sprawling Indianapolis indie-rock act he met while touring with Columbus band Tiara. Kang struck up a friendship with the members of Margot, and when word got out that he played violin, they asked him to join the group as a utility player, handling violin, lap steel and guitar.

"The first band that I actually played a lot of violin in was Margot," Kang said. "Before that, I was always guitar, bass, keyboards. I never touched violin."

He sure does now. Touring, recording and rehearsing with Margot has kept Kang out of town a fair amount, so it's tough for him to play a central role in many Columbus bands these days.

"It's not quite as easy to be an integral part," he said.

Fortunately for him, his flourishing role as a freelance violinist has allowed him to be a less essential member of groups like Winter Makes Sailors and Bird and Flower whenever he's available. He enjoys the chance to collaborate with admired musicians and friends he otherwise might not work with.

Violin has provided Kang some cool connections on tour, too. Thanks to his bow skills, he's sat in with artists like The Elected and Elvis Perkins.

Like most of our featured fiddlers, Kang started on violin in grade school and never envisioned it would be part of his profession years down the road. He remarked that his old violin instructor felt the same way.

"An old [fellow] violin student of mine is tenured with the Los Angeles Philharmonic," Kang said. "That's the guy she thought was good."

Kang's skills are nothing to sniff at, though. He shredded with finesse during an interview at his Upper Arlington apartment, even after accidentally snapping one of his strings while tuning.

He doesn't usually suffer such accidents, although he did drop his violin during a Boston tour stop with Margot, the same instrument he played in school orchestra growing up.

"It's actually in the basement," Kang said, "in two pieces."