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Backstage at National Black Theater in Harlem.
2012 African Drum Tour 

 

March 20, 2015

Spring is really here, starting today. Getting a jump on Spring Fever by finishing up some new tunes.
Some are past the demo stage and are already on their feet. Pan Morigan has been giving me the
motivation to stop revising songs ad nausem (it's fun, what can I say...) and actually finalize them.
As always that's the best way for me to feel out new material. I'll perform the new ones too.
Time to put all the new music together and see if it has a cohesive theme.
Next time, think I'll try a concept album. Yeah, 1975 here I come...

 

 



Then it's on to the joy of recording. A few years back Jan Ian put up a fairly detailed blog about
recording her latest (at the time) CD. It was good to see all the procedures in print.
Of course raising the capital to go into the studio in the first place is a main concern.
Not to mention having a budget to promote the music once it's been recorded and commercially reproduced.
Lisa Bigwood hipped me to that one.

Oh yes, since "the CD is dead" says CNBC - why even bother making them? Well, for me the physical CD is a document.
I buy them to register my vote that I support the music that's recorded on it. When I hear something I like,
or I see a performance that I like I then buy that person's CD to register my support of the performer and their art.
For the record I do use Spotify (free) to preview music; then actually I buy the performer's CDs to support them.
Artists need and deserve that support to survive. Let me know when you'll be doing your job for free.
I'll be right over to check you out.

Soon I'll be in rehearsal with Enchanted Circle Theater of Holyoke
to put up a staged reading of Elie Weisel's "Night".
The first performance is April 14th in New London, Connecticut.
It's a great book and I'm looking forward to working with Priscilla Kane Hellweg
and the Enchanted Circle Theater again.


September 20, 2014

Guess who's pretty healthy ? I could show you pictures, but that would just be weird.
I'll see you when I see you. I do feel a little better, not like I can leap tall buildings or anything
but better than I did when I started this. If you really want to know, just drop the sugar.
Better yet, drop me a line and I'll tell you a little bit.
You know the email address, right?




April 11, 2014

The doctor said

"Why aren't you dead already?"

She really is a very nice, very competant doctor.
It seems my blood pressure is dangerously high
and my blood sugar is way too high as well.
If I want to stay alive I'm supposed to lose weight,
stop eating sugar and take my blood pressure every day.
Okay, let's go down the rabbit hole.

 

 

 

 

May 18, 2012

Ever want to join the circus? I know exactly how that feels.

Remember the long, non-existent winter that started with an October sucker-punch surprise snow storm, remember that? 
Remember the constant campaigning by all the politicians. How many Republican debates did they have? 20? 30? And what's next? 
What can we look forward to this summer?  Conventions, TV ads, 24-hour news cycles and lots of nasty surprises.

I have the feeling the term "long, hot, summer" just won't cover it. The political season is going to be ugly in a big way I'm afraid. 
(Geez, I'm turning into Yoda)  I can get through it if I simply play through it all. 
I'm gonna take my mind off all this by finding places to hang my hat and make music.  Ooo, another original plan. 

No, but really I'm looking forward to stretching out and shaping some new material; onstage when I can. 
In performance is a great place to edit - cut and paste on the fly. You can really get a feel for it how a song shapes up onstage.
I've committed 3 songs to demo status so far this spring; I've got maybe five more to go. 
Then its just a question of budget and recording choices.

Hope to see you soon.

best,

 

Greg

P.S. Hey, I've been on a bit of a health kick, and it's working. You'll see.  Big X.

 

 

 

July 19, 2010

Summer's here and the time is right.... Just gearing up to make some new music. Been writing a lot and the time has come to schedule Fall recording sessions. No details on when it's a new CD; it's just way too early to think about that.  Just happy to have new music to rehearse.

Arlo played Tanglewood yesterday. Always good for a spiritual recharge. Likewise I'll see lots of great players at Falconridge (Lisa Bigwood, Frank Armitage, Eric Lee). I'll be a civilian this year. I'm really looking forward to the recharge that comes with this, civilian or no.

Keep the faith,

 

Greg 

 

 

 

 

February 2, 2010

Whatever it takes, whatever the party calls for - George Clinton

Well, happy new year, eh?  The task at hand? To plan a busy summer. Right now we've had some great CD release nights in New York and Massachusetts; and now is when the summer gets planned. Present day life is full of press kits, looking at pictures (of yourself, weird), uploading videos to Youtube and spending lots of time on the phone and at the post office. 

As winter comes on stronger I see what everyone sees: things are tough for most everybody. So, let's all help each other out. Tell me what you need and we'll work on it together. Likewise I'm sure. The sun don't shine everyday; now is a good time to pull together; 
I'll help out where I can. Pass along information, get creative, barter? 

This includes but is not limited to music business and theater stuff as far as I'm concerned. I don't live in a tree and write songs. Sounds nice though. The point is: feel free to contact me about something that is outside of music or the theater. I've got a life outside of those things and I like to kick around the odd idea.

As George Clinton would say:
Whatever it takes, whatever the party calls for. 

Hang in...keep the faith, and keep in touch.

yours,

Greg

 

 

 

 

 

July 20, 2009

 

Hi, 

Well, as a friend of mine put it: 

"Another one leaves the nest, eh?" 

The new CD is up, walking and talking. "Sky it Shall Be" will have a slow rolling release in fact. There are some CD release "party" evenings planned for late Summer. In September in Massachusetts, a bit later for New York. In the next few weeks it'll become available on Best Buy and iTunes as digital downloads. CD baby dot com will have the digital download as well as the actual CD for sale.

The actual, real-life, physical CD will always be available to buy right here on this website. I will also always have a copy or two on me personally. You can buy one straight from me - no muss, no fuss.

I do love this album, lots of great players, the songs are strong; and we had fun making it. Pulling my hair out in the wee hours comes with the territory but, suffice to say the album stands on its own.

"Sky it Shall Be" really is acoustic: From a full band complete with B3 (Hammond organ); to stripped all the way down to vocals and a couple of guitars. It does have a roots feel to it. 

"Yeah, but who's roots, man? Who's roots?" 

I'd be interested in feedback from anyone listening to the CD now that it's out there but, of course I do have an opinion.  

Roots.... Remember when record stores had a "Rock and Folk" section? (Remember record stores?) So, the Rock and Folk section was when they'd put Black and White artists together in the same bin. Nobody freaked out if Marvin Gaye and Al Green were next to Richie Havens and Jimi Hendrix. 

Roots.... That's C.S.N. & Y. / Leon Russell / Hendrix / Taj Mahal / Bonnie Raitt / The Band / Sly and the Family Stone (stop me anytime-but the list is long) Everybody plays, everybody wins.

The album has a lot of different colors as well. I'm guessing you'll have to go through all 11 songs to figure it out. Go ahead and try one on for size! Bet you'll like it too. 

The joke is now that I've spent all this time making the album I get to spend the next part of my life selling it. Why is that a joke? 'Cause supposedly the "child" has left the nest. Well not so fast....I've got to recoup my investment in the little darling.

Packed and tracking my way to the Falconridge Folk Festival as we speak. No sleep 'til Hillsdale.

 

x

 

Greg

 

 

June 1, 2009

The Kerrville Folk Festival is now for me a fond memory, I had such a great time.  It's official: I am a finalist as opposed to a winner. Congratulations to all of the winners. It's quite an honor to be selected and to have won. Oh, and Texas is a trip, let me tell you...

Kerrville Folk Festival is a special animal. Their greeting phrase is "Welcome Home"; and after the initial surprise and skepticism upon hearing lots of different folks say it to you: (I do wonder how Richard Pryor or George Carlin might react to this scene)  these folks are for real: smart, sincere, and realistic all at the same time. No small feat in my book.  Oh yeah, lunacy abounds too, after all - this is an 18 day folk festival set in a remote area. It feels safe, that's the good news.

Kerrville Folk Festival audiences are passionate and take music very seriously. When I performed the house was standing room only and quiet as a tomb. The crowd is really, really paying attention to what you play, what you say and how you say it.  In the end three respected judges decide who will win the whole shootin' match. Legend says it's a difficult process for them. Which is why when the results came out I tried to feel upset about it. But in the end - outside of disappointment - all I felt was satisfied that all the New Folk finalists had been through a deep, albeit draining experience. The audience got to hear some solid new music.

I met lots of good new folks, reconnected with old friends and got some new places to play. That'll do pig, that'll do. . . 

Oh by the way, recording, mixing, and mastering of the new CD is finished. The title is now "Sky it Shall Be". Got to put together some art and work on duplication. All in all you should be able to buy it on the first day of Summer 2009. 

 

 

February 15, 2009

Martin Sexton. What can you say about him as an artist?  None better, a man who knows his instrument (voice), is a real player, and loves his work. Saw him at Town Hall last night in NYC.  He still manages to touch his well known material with so much new energy in their arrangement that he still amazes with his well established hits.  What's more he channels covers into his set and into specific songs with such respect and ease. Oh yeah and Martin continues to work in his World Peace vision in a way that makes people think that world peace is actually a workable solution. Wow. He is an inspiration.  

Get this: he did not play two of his biggest hits (or is it simply two of my favorites?) "Black Sheep" and "Cherie" and still put in an amazingly satisfying set.  Always good to see someone who makes you want to be a better player. Thanks for that.

Keep the faith,

 

Greg


An important P.S.

I had emergency surgery three weeks back: Obstructed bowel & abdominal repair. I'm still here; fueled by great friends and Percocet.  In fact I believe the doctor put my abdominals back together better than they have been for many years.  I'll need rest, but I can still play.

I've had to drop out of three early '09 projects that I was really looking forward to doing.

At this point I need rest. It'll take a couple of months, that's my estimate. 
The doctors let me see what I can do and judge accordingly.

It is difficult to see how you're progressing from this angle.  Two days after surgery I was telling the director that I could do the play from a wheelchair.

"I can modify the character"

Everybody else knew it wasn't gonna happen except me. I couldn't see it, it felt like I was fine one minute - then the meds wear off and I'd become an invalid again. I now have the healing schedule in my head, and I'll stick to it. I see the progress and it's even funny sometimes. So don't fret, I'll be better than ever, just you wait.

 

December 14, 2008

Well, the album needs the mix and master genie to do it's stuff.  Final recording is taking place; I almost said "final recording is finished" but, at this  point I realise the process could go on and on forever.  It won't, I'll pull the plug in about a week. Next, I'll buff and shine it up (mastering euphemism) and get the artwork set.  

 

New release date: Valentine's Day.... It should be mass produced and everything by then so no need to fret.  The final song lineup is fixed too, but I'm gonna keep it under my hat right now. 

I wish when there was no news to report that I was sitting on a beach somewhere watching the clouds roll by.  The fact is that some aspect of the recording process is nearly always taking place.  I used to wonder about what seemed like a huge chunk of inactivity you observe from some artists. Now, deep into my third album - I get it.  It takes time, that's all there is to it. Hope you can hang, it'll be worth it.

 

x

 

Greg  

 

November 29, 2008

 

I love a mystery, how 'bout you?  How will the country save itself now that we have a champion with a brain? Can we still consume like Americans and survive our own appetites? Will Greg's new CD be done by the end of the year?

They're all still mysteries to me. The CD is nearly finished, some book keeping is due, that's my way of saying mixing and mastering and the odd bit of magic here and there.  I am truly shooting for a finish by years end; here it is Thanksgiving and there's still more to do. I think it gets tricky when you're close to the goal. Fair enough . . . 

I am thankful though - on we go. Keep writing y'all.

 

Peace,

 

Greg

 

 

 

October 2, 2008

 

Hi. Is it fall yet?  I feel so lucky to be up in New England for the turning of the leaves this year. I've got a few more days and then it's back to the road. 

Meanwhile lots of work happening on the new CD . . . yep, so far so good. Recently I had sessions at Avocet Studios in Shelburne, MA.  
Jim Armenti and Eric Lee recently came on and played on a few tracks. Both of them true originals; their music is simply so to the point. Folkboiee will definitely earn the nickname this time 'round.  The working title of the CD is "American Lullaby"; the songs have been chosen:

Rock the Boat
Glad
Sky's the Limit
Leaving Time
Graduation Day
Listening to London
I'm still writing this
Lullaby
Can't Pass You
Save the Bomb
What's in a Name?

 

Principle recording is finished. Like to be mixed and mastered by Thanksgiving, maybe have this wrapped up for the holidays. No dates yet on a CD release party. I'll keep you posted.

Peace - keep each other warm,

 

Greg

Oh yeah, one more thing. . .  

P.S. - I distrust the US House and Senate like a cursed disease that will not die. Trust 'em? I don't even know 'em. I could go on and on and on; alas I am not an economist. If you can recommend a good book, drop me a note. I'm reading the Nation these days and am shopping for more in depth writing (listening to Democracy Now of course).

 

Suffice to say that the new $700 billion bill to help the economy will have over $100 billion dollars worth of bribes to individual states to appease certain folks who didn't vote for the bill the first time. No relief for homeowners or the little guy. It's still "trickle-down economics" and it ain't raining, know what I mean? 

r-e-v-o-l-u-t-i-

 

 

 

July 29, 2008

 

Falcon Ridge? Yeah, Still drying out after the storm.
We rode it all out and came out with our skin, just barely. Then hung out with Lisa Bigwood and Bob Potter to hear "Bub" take the stage and cancel the rest of the day. 

Cancelled acts include: 

Gandalf Murphy & the Slambovian Circus of Dreams
Eileen Ivers
Janis Ian
Eliza Gilkyson

There's someone else but my mind is still soggy.

 

Wicked weather, never had it quite like that before. With all the debris flying around it was a smart move to get away from the main stage. But no place was safe. Anything that wasn't nailed down went flying.  Some things that were nailed down went flying. No cell service and the Mass Turnpike was nuts; it seemed we were following the storm. 

The Turnpike had no power at the rest stops, so they were all closed-including the bathrooms.  Just think about that a moment. All those folks leaving the festival, plus all the regular Sunday afternoon traffic running from a storm and looking for a bathroom........Lots of unspeakable acts taking place in the rest stop parking lots. 
 
Got back to Western MA after 8.  I need a couple of  days sleep, then we can talk.  Bottom line-it was one of my favorite years ever.

 

x

 

Greg

 



 

July 27, 2008

 

Hello,


Let's talk about the Ripple Music Festival shall we? 

Yep, I certainly could use the money; but Ripple Music Festival is an idea that I am always willing to give a chance to succeed.
 
I was scheduled to perform at Ripple and did play one of two scheduled dates before the event was shut down. Going into this I did know that Ripple was a brand new festival.
That tells me that the system(s) that operate this specific event are still being tested and worked out.  The venue had excellent staff, and superior lights and sound. So where did all the money to go? It went right up on stage with the artists.
 I passed Ripple Festival information on to other performers in case they wanted to play.  Those who were interested and actually made it to the stage enjoyed the experience. Some traveled many hundreds of miles, over 7 hours by car to attend. Some got barely gas money for the return trip home. None has as yet have contacted me to complain about the performance fee.
 
Keep in mind that festivals have lives of their own that go well beyond their actual performance dates. Ripple could be the birth pangs of something new and sustainable.  If it's gonna survive it'll have to do alot better*. But I feel the folks running have their hearts in the right place. 
 
*(I didn't get a rubber check, that would really piss me off. Perchik explained the situation to me and said he'd settle when he could, that'll work for me)
 
 
As artists we all know about the money questions; we all know what can happen-good or bad. In this case we got it in spades. The backers didn't come through, ticket sales were a disappointing to the extent that the festival could not continue. Miller and Finch are probably gonna take a bath on this; anyone who attended the festival could figure this seeing how the venue was so well equipped, yet poorly attended. 
 
If I didn't know Perchik (Miller) to be honest to a fault, if I had traveled a great distance on my own dime, and had played to a standing room only house, I would feel ripped off.  As a traveling musician I know all too well how this can happen, I don't like it-but there it is.  
 Music festivals are a series of great musical, financial, ethical, and cultural experiments. I'm sorry we all didn't make lots of money from performance fees and product sales. We all deserve it. I am even more sorry that we didn't all get the chance to meet, share in each others music, and stoke the fire for an annual meeting of hearts and minds.
 
The Ripple Music Festival is over.  Long live the Ripple Music Festival.
 
 

 

 

February 20, 2008

 

Hi,

 

Well, things are coming together.  Arrangements have been made to go back into the studio and put some finishing nails into the coffin of the new album. Don't let that picture up above fool you-I'm really excited about it.  Shoveling takes it out of me. 

The album will be acoustic but loud. Also there is clearly more than an albums worth of material available, which is a good thing - that way I can pick and choose. I'd rather have this record present a strong 50 minute collection than an uneven 75 minutes.  This isn't really a concept album, but there will be a common thread. The trick is to pick the strongest songs that'll contribute to the thread. There's a joke in here about buying a puppy, but I'll let it go.

I'll go back into the studio in late April, yep. Why am so I excited? Because I'm going to get to work with the usual suspects - Guy Divito and Mitch Chakour. Very, very talented folks. There are more details to follow but the dates are firm.  Constant is flux, so I'm working on planning ahead to get this done with as few snafus as  possible. 

I'm shuttling regularly between the land of ice and snow (New England) and the Frozen Apple these days.  Hoping to sit in on Pan Morigan's concert this weekend, it's not firm but that I'll make it.  None the less it'll be a great show, so if you're around Northampton on Saturday night it'll be a good show I'm certain.  Pan is actually in NYC rehearsing the players for Saturday. Saturday Feb. 23rd, 8:00 P.M. at Helen Hills Chapel on Rt. 9 at Smith Campus. 

If you're in New York City on Friday, check out the music of Spiff Weigand and the Ladies Auxiliary at Hank's Saloon on Atlantic & 3rd Ave in Brooklyn NY at 10pm. Their first and final show?  We'll just see about that.

And when the hell am I playing out, eh? No gigs since new years eve, am I a hermit now? Nope, I'll be up in New Hampshire at Franklin Pierce University on March 10th. After that it will get busier in New York, stay tuned.  

If you can

x

 

Greg

 





January 28, 2008

Hi all,

 

I just finished working on a project that could expand.  "John and Paul" is the working title of an original musical about the life of Lennon and  McCartney. Danny Eaton and Mitch Chakour were heading this project which was written by Danny Schecter.  I was asked to sing a few of the songs in this nearly rock opera. I say that because there was no character dialogue per se. I and three other singers played multiple characters. 

I was not John or Paul, by the way.  When Danny called me I figured I'd be Billy Preston. Just my luck he's included in the show.  Then again neither are George or Ringo.

Cliff says "it takes you right to the clubhouse door and stops just outside". While there is no actual Beatles music in this original piece, it does have a lots of music delivered in a particular style. I think if you like the Beatles this show will be up your alley. 

We had two performances of the material (running about 90 minutes) for backers and some arts folk. The producers were looking for input on the show and capital, of course. 

Skeptical? You bet, after working on it for a week, the show seems very feasible.  I hope it gets the legs to live again. It may come up on  the Majestic Theater schedule in the summer of this year.

 

 

September 11, 2007

Still feel like writing on this day.  Anyone on the east coast of the US has feelings about this, as do others I'm sure. But being close to ground zero (still) means there is still an ongoing impact. An event like this does not go away; we simply behave as if it does.

What a waste. The whole thing. The attack, a brutal action to perpetrate against an unknown (although clearly targeted) enemy. And the response, an equally vicious long ranging campaign designed to devastate two countries and at the same line the pockets of large corporations. 

Remember the book and film "Catch 22" ?  War is a perfect time for the rich to get richer. All at the expense of the common people of Iraq, the United States and countless others. 

What the hell is wrong with us? With the American people? This war goes on and on, and in the US we protest, but it's wan - not enough to rectify the situation. And we send our own people off to do something we know is wrong - deep down, we know. Some protest that it's for our own good, for the good of the world. But, deep down I think we all know that this is wrong and lots of us simply can't admit it.

Where is our outrage, our revolution? 

This is a rant............time to write.

peace,

Greg

 

 

 

July 31, 2007

 

Hi there,

 

Still recovering from Falcon Ridge.  What a well rounded festival this year.  I made new friends, players and others ( how nice for me !) and the new site is starting to get comfortable. Although being up on the hill is beautiful-it still feels dangerous because of it's pitch. RVs need to shy away from up there. Everyone gets nervous just watching them think about negotiating the terrain.  They all think better of it and go to more lever pastures. 

The musical stand outs this year? Marshall Crenshaw was great, who knew? This was the year of heavy weather, but if you stuck it out you got a real treat at the end of the night with this guy. He's not a typical FRFF performer, electric pop. But boy, did he deliver.

Sunday. Great day, Gandalf Murphy made us all think we were hippies for awhile, they are the best at what they do and Falcon Ridge is coming around to falling in love them. Arlo Guthrie was fantastic on Sunday afternoon. Played solo with only his son on keys for support. The guy just puts magic into the air by simply being his own self effacing self, know what I mean?  Mary Gauthier went on before him.  She played solo, and that's just when she shines the best.  She can string together songs with the most meaningful, simply patter.  Her set was unaffected, and breathtaking.

There's more of course, there's always more when  it comes to Falcon Ridge.  But, I need more sleep and to check my mini discs before I go any further. 

As for roaming the grounds I did find a few new players, and never did find the PACE bunch, maybe I'm still looking.....

I'll talk more when I wake up.

 

yours,

 

Greg

 

 

 

May 7, 2007

Happy Spring, folks. How is it that the time just goes and goes? It's all about recording and writing new material.  There is studio time and recording that is already done.  There is lots more to do.  I'm looking forward to good music and weather. That's it, short and sweet. Just keep the faith and keep making music.  Is that advice for you or me? Sound advice for us all, even ragtime cowboy Joe!

peace,

Greg 


October 5, 2006


Kieran Ryan - An Unrepentant Rocker

Kieran was a truly unique, wonderful man.  He showed us more about the good in people in an afternoon that most folks display in a lifetime. 

Love you Kieran, miss you.




If I don't see you no more in this world, I'll meet you in the next one, and don't be late.
                                                                                                
                                                                                                 -Hendrix



For a glimpse at Kieran's life go to The Prodigals website.

Funeral Services
For
KIERAN RYAN
were held on
Thursday evening October 5t
h
at the
Church of the Most Precious Blood
32-23 36th St. (corner of 32nd Ave. )
Astoria Queens
(N train to Broadway stop)
Followed by a gathering at

Gibneys Pub (on Broadway near N train)

The Prodigals,  
a band Kieran worked with and loved, played




Everybody who knew Kieran has a good story about him; although no one told a story as well as Kieran could tell one.  
Soon as I get my thoughts collected I'll tell you one.

October 20, 2006
Addendum


Here's a story about Kieran:

[Note: There are times when only expletives will do. Feel free to insert more, you'll know where they fit in.]

Last year about this time I went out for lunch during a rehearsal and came back to the theater in Brooklyn with a bad case of food poisoning. It was my Birthday and I figured I could do just about whatever the hell I wanted to do. Bad idea. It took about an hour for the Jamaican beef patties to take effect. 

Someone found me in the 2nd floor men's room, I can't remember who, that's how much in distress I was at the time. But I do know that it was Kieran who stayed with me in the bathroom when the cops wouldn't come in once they saw me on the floor, it Kieran who got me onto a gurney when the EMTs  wouldn't touch me or help me to my feet.  It was Kieran who went with me in the ambulance and actually made sense while the EMTs sang a little rap they had written called "Don't eat off the street".  And finally it was Kieran who went into ER and made sure I got looked at. He actually stayed with me until my family arrived. 

It was when the painkillers started to kick in, through the sick and the mess - I realised I already had family with me. Kieran would stick up for people in need, consequences and appearances were someone else's problem.  His issue was making sure you got a fair shake, and he didn't give a damn how it looked or if the reaction wasn't popular. That's one of the things that made him the coolest guy on the block. Not cool in temperament, but in conviction. Kieran Ryan just knew what time it was. 




peace,

Greg


September 14, 2006

Hello there,

I'm off to Florida next week to work on a project called "From Page to Stage".  This is a 50 minute show that celebrates American literature from the viewpoint of the outsider.  The show is put together by the Enchanted Circle Theater, an educational theater based in Holyoke Massachusetts.  

The show is geared to high school aged folks and deals with alienation and how reading tales of adversity from others can help us all deal. So it's a combination of readers theater and scene work. We'll perform material from a variety of sources; from Langston Hughes to Hemmingway to Emily Dickinson. 

Performances are scheduled for Broward County schools and even a local correctional facility. If you'd like to go contact Enchanted Circle Theater.  Since the shows will be in auditoriums, if you're local and would like to attend, I bet you could contact the schools and they'd let you in; especially if you're interested in sampling the programs for future booking criteria in Broward County school system.

While I'm there I will check out the Broward County folk scene.  I've been on the South Florida Folk list serve for a few years. Now I'm fixing to check out a few venues and see what the lay of the land is like.  Any ideas? Please contact me. Thanks.

peace, 

Greg

P.S. Doing some recording next month with Mitch Chakour and Kevin Pare.  How cool can cool be, eh? I'll tell you later.....

 

July 31, 2006

Hi there,

The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival went off at the new location this past week. It takes me about a week to get used to being indoors after Falcon Ridge.  All that exposure, listening to and playing music outdoors in all kinds of weather for five days takes a toll.

It was in a new location, just a few miles from where the old festival had been held for many years. There were a few hitches here and there, where to get water, more than a little trouble getting around on the roads after the rain, and a vehicle fire on Saturday night (final determination was an electrical problem with the car). Overall, I'd say they have an interesting new venue to grow into.

I spoke with promoter Howard Randall, he seems satisfied with the outcome. 

"We had some things that needed preparation, and we'll get even more done."

I think that means that the festival will stay right where it is, that's very good news. Randall commented that the owner of the new property is said to be pleased with how the festival went as well.

I'm still writing this. Tell you more about the music soon. The short version is: the musical performances were eclectic and very, very good. Surprise!

 

Greg

 

 

July 3, 2006

Hi, 

Happy summer. Hope you're well. I'm just getting over my post show depression from closing Miss Saigon at the Majestic Theater. It was a stretch, and that's in a good way.  I now have a little more musical theater in my brain.  

A musical-sized company, around 50 including the band and crew- one great big happy family; as it turns out-that's what we had. A respectful, energized bunch, many of whom eat and sleep theater. I tend to forget how cool people can be, these folks were together and as much fun as any company or band I've worked with. It's a comfort simply to know they're out there. I'll keep in touch. 

The role-John, in fact the entire score is high (I mean it, really high-even the women in the show would say "Damn, this is high." ,it opened up my own range quite a bit. Mitch Chakour went a long way in making a comfortable environment in which to work. Now the trick will be to keep the headroom that opened up for me during the show.

It was rough on my voice, I got sick in week 6 of the run and really had to protect what was left of my voice.  That was a real trip, I never worked hurt before.  Chinese medicine, Mitch and Pan got me through.  Mitch gave me techniques and Pan turned me on to the medicine.

This run was long, from 1st rehearsal to last show was just over 12 weeks. The beauty of that is during the run the show comes first. . . you eat, sleep and stay healthy for the show. Now that it's over I have to write checks for the bills I didn't pay, get back to scheduling 2007, oh yeah- make a record.

Mark Peterson is on tour with James Blood Ulmer for the summer. So I'm off to Vermont to find an upright bass player and check out other recording studios.  Fact is. . . without Mark Peterson the balance of players is now in New England and not New York.  I'll look into recording up in NE and see what and who is available. 

peace, 

 

Greg

 

 

February 15, 2006

So here's the dream scenario:

Mark Peterson on upright bass- I met him when he played Joe's Pub with Susan Werner.
Leopoldo Flemming on percussion - I've known Leo for years, we do African shows together. He was Nina Simone's percussionist.
Mitch Chakour  on keyboards- He's directed me in a couple of shows and helped me do things I thought I could never do. A great musical director, an incredible player.



The idea is to lock us all in a room together; maybe Hugh Pool's Excello in Williamsburg and just to have fun. No sleep 'til Brooklyn.

Love,

Greg

 

 

February 3, 2006

Welcome to the new year.  I'm thinking recording these days. I simply want to make a simple recording, who knew it'd be so complicated getting things to be simple. Even so it's a blast, an expensive blast-but a blast none the less. 

I'm recording stripped down demo versions of the chosen 11 tunes onto my computer. The recording program Cubase is kicking my butt all around the keyboard, but I'll figure out what I need to get the job done. I'm passing the demos out to the upright bass and the percussionist in preparation for the studio work. Then I'll just keep breathing deeply and let the engineer have a free hand.

Hey, I went to the Joni Mitchell tribute at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday. What a great evening. No Joni though, the producer came out and read a note from Joni saying she was taking care of a sick cat. Half the audience went "awwww" the other half went "awww", know what I mean?  Cat people were united again while the allergic and the rest of us had to suck it up.

If you had looked extreme house right, then up and up and up you may have seen my seat, front row balcony A 64. They call it the Balcony, it's really the 4th balcony. 

As I got closer to the top one usher joked to me:
"we don't have any oxygen available", 
I was sweating like a stuck pig from climbing the 7 flights of stairs. 

"The wheelchair folk do not put up with this",
I thought to myself. To be fair there is an elevator but there is no wheelchair accessibility past what I'd call balcony #2. So it's definitely reserved for special case use. 

The balcony usher looked at my ticket and crowed "front row" and swept her hand toward the doorway. I didn't realize that she didn't point it out directly because it was a twenty degree down angle from where we stood.

I made my way down the stairs of the balcony aisle holding every hand rail I could find. Then I realized I had my eyes closed.  Carnegie Hall is a hand made space.  Even the individual steps in the aisle can be a little different in height. So while I make my way and try to maintain my cool one step at a time, every few steps I stick out my foot and feel nothing- just stumble down to the next level. Getting to my seat and anchoring to the velvet railing in front of me- I didn't look straight down for a few minutes.  After the house lights went down was truly fun.

From up there, you could check the stage layout and equipment; Laurie Anderson's station with her toys was quite obvious, pedal board and all. 

The things that stand out in my mind? The entire package makes me warm and fuzzy all over.

Laurie Anderson doing "Both Sides Now"-wow; but we knew she would reinvent whatever she covered. Remember back in the old days when she didn't even sing? Only spoke in that perfect Standard American dialect? As she sang we whispered "What's Judy Collins gonna sing if Laurie is covering this?"

Richie Havens, I could watch him all night; I agree with you- his latest CD is a great combination  of musicianship and material. He finally got the formula just right on the latest recording "Grace of the Sun". Him covering "Woodstock" is the perfect fit considering his connection to the festival, feedback and all. You mentioned the Nudes with Richie- so is Stephanie Winters the other half of the Nudes?

Judy Collins was terrific, wow she just kept hitting those notes while keeping the tempo up up up.

Betty Le Vette, that was a nice surprise-she was so intense with that guy playing electric guitar. I'd never heard of her, her performance was so passionate, it brought tears to my eyes.

Everyone had so much to offer; the fact that folks had the where-with-all to come out and perform live, with out pitch shifters and effects.  Live performance can be worthwhile, it's a shame when some - performers and audience alike - take it for granted. That live element of the show stayed with me for days and let me forgive things I would not have normally taken so lightly. 

Michelle N'Degeocello turning her back to the house is a case in point.  She's a pro, I'm guessing she turned away so the audience would not distract her from her bass playing; but she is so interesting to watch (from above we could see her play) from the sound check on the fly through the rest; why not share that? The visuals are an integral part for an audience.  That's why folks go to "see" people play. None the less she was a thrill to see and hear.

{ Note: I learned later from Susan on the South Florida Folk list serve that Michelle has epilepsy; camera flash from the audience is very disturbing for her and could possibly trigger a seizure.  She turns her back to prevent this. - G.A.}

Oh, and Martin Sexton, man - if he's that good without warming up, just imagine how he can cut loose in a full set.  We're both from Massachusetts and I haven't seen him live yet.

Marc Cohen, got the brass ring of the evening for me. He got to play "For Free" the perfect mixture of lyric and melody.  He performed admirably, but I got distracted by thinking of his trouble in Denver and how do you come out on the other side of a situation like that.  I guess the answer is you play great music like Joni's.

Nobody did "A Case of You". . . has Diana Krall's version put that song to rest for everybody?

It was the kind of night that makes you look for summer festival tickets in the middle of winter.

stay warm . . . we'll be in shorts again soon.

Greg

 

September 19, 2005

Hi there.  From the sublime to the ridiculous.  Either you're having the greatest week of your life or you're in line for the most humiliating experiences you can imagine. It really gives you perspective. We'll laugh about it later; hell - it'll make great stage banter someday, once I've processed it all. Treat life as a comedy rather than a tragedy.  Otherwise you may end up in the tower with a sniper rifle.

OK, let's take 'em one at a time.

 

August 27th- Meganfest

I love doing this. It's outdoors it's got an audience that actually listens and performers I love to listen to.  Will it have enough momentum to sustain itself? Well, we're gonna work on that.  Thanks to Tom Stokowski, Pan Morigan and Wendy Farley for making it happen and getting our own little festival off the ground.  We start planning next year right after Halloween. Can't wait.

September 3rd - Club Passim Campfire Festival

 

On September 3rd I played the Club Passim Campfire Festival in Boston. A series of round robins, my round included Ellis Paul. . . what a great surprise. One of the great things about Club Passim is that it's a listening room. Great sound, great staff, an audience that came to check you out. And with EP in the round, lots of folks did show up to check us out. It's always great to perform alongside talented players, it ups your whole level of performance. Suffice to say that Justin Rosolino, Kate Schrock, and I all had a great time sharing the stage with Ellis, and EP was cool about it too.  Making jokes and putting everybody at ease. For just a moment Katrina is on the back burner. All we had to do was have a good time.  Play for each other, with each other. We made out like bandits.

 

Flash forward 10 days to Washington DC.

Ah, the people you meet in DC ! I just got back from the Cornucopia Music Festival. Also known as the Cornucopia Summer Music Festival or the Cornucopia Jams Festival. See a pattern here? Not just yet.  Musicians and performers from all over the US went to DC this week.  All different kinds of acts were encouraged to come and play.

Bottom line, artists do best when we stick together, work together and share as much as we can. We respect each other's work, and when it works we're family. And family looks out for each other, right? We can also help new festivals by telling them what works for us. They need to know our opinions. 

Talk to you soon.

 

 

September 22, 2005




Got this email the other day:

September 20, 2005
20:02:36 

Hey Greg, I got the Megfest bootleg CD today I love it I love all the new stuff.. the "good time song" and the one about leaving are my new favorites. Sounds great. I'm copying it for all my friends. Should we each send you a dollar or something? And why do you bury your comments and note pages?  It takes me a lot of work to find it.



Feel free to pass the music around. Although Tom Stokowski and Pan Morigan have not consented to have their music taped, so you'll have to contact them. And yes contribute to their music works if they see fit. As for the gregnotes page, the music is the main thing. And folks do find their way here.  As for the comments page, it's getting revamped. It'll be up soon.

 

 

 

 

August 16, 2005

The hackers have gotten their hooks into Greg A dot com.   We actually went offline for a weekend in an attempt to clean house. A lot of elements have been corrupted and therefore were removed from the website. All of my posts in gregnotes from the last year, all of the message board posts from the last six months or so, and other parts of individual pages have been lost.  I'm in the process of restoring what I can, but not being a computer wiz, it's been difficult.  This is why it pays to have someone (a pro) run your website.  I haven't gotten that message just yet, but I'm definitely in the market now. 

Back in the real world I'm working on new music and getting ready to record again. The pre production is done, now it's a question of studio time and picking players. I guess that is pre production, isn't it?  At any rate the studio work will happen in the fall. Meanwhile I'm booking for '06, it's gonna be a play everywhere concept.  I'll do my best to keep everyone in the loop.

Yesterday I recorded my song for "The Ride" sound track in Mitch Chakour's studio. I'm not certain when it'll be commercially available but hope for later in the fall.

Looking forward to the annual house concert we call Meganfest.  That'll be next Saturday August 27th in South Hadley Massachusetts.  It's going to hold a sizable amount of people. Peter-Michael Kinney and Tom Stokowski will also perform. You can drop Wendy Farley an email for directions, so that plans can be made.

I'm going to write out the email address so that web crawlers (computers that search the internet for information) will not pick up her email and send her a bunch of spam. 

So here's the email address:  quabbinsun at hotmail dot com

 

*Posts from January 2005 to July 2005 have been lost*

For past posts go to the Greg Notes Archives