Thursday, April 17, 2014

'A friend of a friend of ...': Jeff Pehrson

Keep in mind, this "friend of a friend" social networking adventure began with a trip to the San Francisco area.  So, what does that mean when it comes to any trend that is prevalent in my daily social networking news feed since then?

To riff on a famous line from a movie, "I see Dead people."

As in The Grateful Dead.  Images of Jerry Garcia pop up quite often, in various ways.  I see people who've shared a stage with Jerry, a former girlfriend and mother to one of Jerry's children, people who've shot countless photos of him and the band, and even more countless fans of The Dead, people who are eager to share any bootlegged recording and can name exact dates they saw the beloved band, like so many other Deadheads around the world.

Jeff Pehrson performs with Furthur.  (Photo via
I can't claim people like Grateful Dead guitarist and vocalist Bob Weir or bassist Phil Lesh among those "friends of friends."  But there is a connection in Jeff Pehrson, who performs backing vocals with Lesh and Weir's band Furthur when he's not working with his own folk rock band, The Fall Risk.  While you're at it, check out Pehrson's music with another folk rock band he co-founded, Box Set.

Pehrson has serious songwriting skills which makes the music of Box Set and The Fall Risk unique on their own.  When it comes to the time he's spent with the rock music legends that are Weir and Lesh, try listening to recordings of Garcia singing a song, and then follow that up with the sound of Pehrson singing.  It'll soon become a bit obvious why Jeff Pehrson is a part of that Dead-like family, and has been since he joined Furthur in 2010.

The spirit of The Dead lives on to this day, and just might never die.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

'A friend of a friend of ...': Dave Getz

Unless you look closely at some of the names in my Facebook friends list -- those "friends of friends of" actual friends -- you might not give much thought to who some of these people are or what they've done.  When you look at their biographies, that's when pieces of modern music history can hit you like a freight train going full-speed.

Dave Getz
Such is the story with Dave Getz.  He's a gifted visual artist.  That's basically what took him to the Bay Area, to study art and try to make a name for himself with his talent holding a brush and creating works of art that are appealing to the eyes.  Before that, he'd shown serious chops as a drummer in the New York area.  He went on to study art in the San Francisco area, and met Peter Albin, who was with a band called Big Brother and The Holding Company.  Dave let Peter know that he played the drums, Dave soon became a member of Big Brother himself.

Later on in 1966, there came a singer from Texas who would join the group as well.  She would set the world of rock music on fire and become a legend with her powerful voice.  Her name was Janis Joplin.

Big Brother's album "Cheap Thrills" went to No. 1 in 1968 and stayed there for eight weeks.  Playing in that band which had already started establishing itself on the instrumental side, having Janis Joplin bolster it vocally ... it was a defining moment.  Janis left the band in 1968, and Getz went on to play with Country Joe and The Fish.

That association with Big Brother and Janis Joplin will stay with Dave Getz forever.  He's still playing, teaching others how to play, still working on his visual art.

Looking behind the names can paint a fascinating picture of a person's life.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

'A friend of a friend of ...': Greg Errico

"Laying it down for Sly & The Family Stone, Greg Errico had more pocket than a giant in dungarees. The band busted down musical barriers at will, blending soul, funk and even psychedelic rock. Underpinning it all was Errico’s impeccable syncopation and dance-floor friendly grooves."
Greg Errico
Imagine how blown away I was back in the early part of 2012 when I started networking with musical friends of newfound friends on Facebook and considered the things some of them had accomplished.  Last year, when I saw a list of the "100 most influential drummers of all time" (which the quote above came from) and saw the name Greg Errico in there, I thought, "Hey, I know that name."

When you listen to the Sly song "Dance To The Music" and the drum is highlighted, that's Greg Errico you're listening to.  It was his syncopation that was a crucial ingredient in some of the great Sly & The Family Stone tunes, a groundbreaking soul and funk outfit from the late '60s and early '70s that was incendiary both on- and off-stage, having a part in Woodstock and going on to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He left the Family in 1971, but his resume would be added to with touring stints in Weather Report in 1973, David Bowie's "Diamond Dogs" tour in 1974, Santana, the Grateful Dead and the Jerry Garcia Band, blues harp master Lee Oskar, to name just a few.  He still plays and produces.  In soul/funk/rock music history, his reputation is etched in (Sly's) Stone.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

'A friend of a friend of ...': David Freiberg

Now, let's see, where was I before I interrupted myself?  Oh, yeah, talking about the musical friends of friends I've come across on Facebook.  That list has grown since the last time I did anything in this series, but for now I'm sticking with some of the Bay Area talent that helped to put that area on the musical map.

David Freiberg
I'll pick this series back up after a lengthy intermission by putting a spotlight on multi-instrumental talent David Freiberg.

Freiberg was a founding member of a San Francisco area rock music institution, Quicksilver Messenger Service, who went on to play with other Bay Area rock institutions -- Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, Marty Balin, and the bands they were an important part of for so long, Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship (that's him on the organ on the timeless "Miracles").

Freiberg's impact on classic rock music can especially be felt when you hear the Jefferson Starship song "Jane" played on the radio.  Freiberg shares writing credit on that one.

Freiberg is still flying on that Jefferson Starship to this day.  It's cool to see Facebook status updates from him that talk about catching a flight from the San Francisco airport to some far-away show, keeping the memories and those classic songs alive.

It's the classics that deserve to be kept alive.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The "season of giving" that never ends

We're entering a new year, about to leave that "season of giving" that consumes us so much.  For the general public, it's a season that seems to start as early as Halloween or even the days before then when Christmas displays start popping up in stores.

Thanksgiving's even becoming an afterthought.

For musicians, that season of giving can last year-round -- not just this time of year.  For that, we as music lovers should be giving thanks and showing our appreciation to those who give of their time and talents.

One of my Northern California musician friends -- Steen Berrig, a dynamite blues harp player -- has pointed out a time or two before just how much people like him donate to charitable causes just by bringing people in who love to be entertained by a tune.  They give of their time by practicing, hauling their gear to a venue, unloading, setting up, playing, taking down, loading, and hauling back home.

That's no little task.

A reminder of what it takes to give like that came up recently when some more local Utah friends of mine were among several bands and solo musicians who gathered at the Kafeneio Coffee House and music venue in South Salt Lake for the second annual "I Feed On Sound" benefit concert and food drive.  Admission came in the form of donations of non-perishable food items.  As is found so often, musicians gave of their time and energy to help the cause.

In the music venue, there was electronic dance music from Grim & Reaper, post-hardcore from The Infernal, pop punk from One Lump Sum, rock from Sektau, and a double dose of reggae to close out the evening from Rebel Zion and Bludgeon Muffin.

There was an acoustic area out front with even more musicians playing throughout the evening.

It was musicians giving of themselves as they do so often.  Their biggest payback came in the way of shouts of appreciation, hand claps and backslaps.  Their season of giving never seems to end.

Monday, September 2, 2013

'A friend of a friend of ...': Garth Webber

It was around a year ago that I launched the music blog you're reading right now.  It was intended to give a little exposure to musicians and music both known and unknown, to songs new and old -- songs that have been widely popular and tunes that deserve to be heard by more than they have been.

It was last Labor Day that I posted my first article in this blog, with notes and photos from a local jazz festival.  Now, a year later, I'm in the middle of a series looking at some of the people I've come to know personally, or more likely just gotten to know a bit about through common friendships online.

Garth Webber
The jazz music and the common friendships brings me to Bay Area guitarist Garth Webber.  He's played with the likes of jazz great Miles Davis in his fusion era, along with artists like Gregg Allman and Boz Scass to name a couple more.

These days, when he's not playing and recording himself, he's recording others or teaching some of the secrets of his craft to students who'd like to be "the next big thing" on the guitar scene.

For me, it's watching Garth Webber play with Miles Davis that brings the biggest smile to this jazz fan's face.