Monday, March 18, 2013

Greg Lake and Squids

Greg Lake and I at rehearsals (wearing my Tarkus shirt that Keith gave me!)

Yesterday, for the first time, I met Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. He was rehearsing for his one man show gigs where he performs songs from his solo career as well as from his days with King Crimson and ELP. I was called in to help program sounds and explain how the Nord Stage keyboard works. My friend Erik Norlander who plays keys with Asia FJP had put me in touch with guitar tech Andre Cholmondeley who I happened to have met previously at a Steven Wilson concert in Orlando. Small world! Andre asked me to come to Greg's rehearsals and help them. It was Sound of Contact's day off so fortunately I had a little bit of time to do something fun like that! 

I used to program keys and/or do custom sampling for tours as one of my sources of income. Today I do it more as a favor trade or just gratis because I want to. For a living I do it on a grander scale through my company Sonic Reality which supplies sounds to thousands of musicians all over the world. But over the years I've done interesting direct custom sounds for many performing artists like Genesis, Madonna, Barbara Streisand, Crowded House, Tom Waits, Ringo Starr, The Who, Rolling Stones, Beyonce, Pearl Jam and others including Keith Emerson and ELP! I told Greg I helped create the Fanfare sound for Keith which they used in their most recent EL and ELP shows. He had no idea. He was really surprised! It's not like we're in LA or England. This is South Florida so what are the chances that there'd be someone here coming to help him with his keyboard that has worked with Keith? Then, if you consider what the chances are that the same person happened to have provided string sounds for the factory Nord Sample Library and could dial up with certainty which sounds would work best... it was a fun synchronistic situation to be in! He was so happy to hear all that and we immediately hit it off. 

Got treated to a private performance from Greg

We talked about a bunch of things including the possibility of me playing with him or working together at some point in the future. The idea of working together was his and of course in my mind I was thinking "Hmmmm. Keith and I are pals. Uncle Greg is my new buddy... now if they'd only let me co-produce a new ELP album..." Haha! That's how I think. I didn't say anything of that nature of course. I could see me sitting in with him on some gigs or doing a stint of duo or full band live shows perhaps down the line and/or at least him guesting on one of my Sonic Elements productions. Maybe I'd even play some keys on his next album if/when he does one. But, the lofty idea of them even DOING another ELP album let alone me being involved on that level... well, if you don't dream it doesn't happen that's all I can say. If you DO dream and it doesn't happen there's no harm in that either! Dream away I say. As long as you keep it to yourself and don't blog about it. WOOPS!!!! Haha. Nah, come on. You have to know these are the kinds of things I would be thinking. Surely by now you know I think big! If they were open to a creative and objective younger generation co-producer, I'm confident I could help them make a new classic... something that is up to the standard of quality songwriting, sounds and performances that they themselves set in the 70's. [Just to be clear, there's no actual talk of an ELP album - this is just me talking in Squids fantasyland! Although Keith did say in my interviews with him that he'd be open to it.]

Anyway, back to present day reality here... haha. This turned out to be a great unexpected Sunday afternoon event! Greg proceeded to tell me how he put his latest one man show together and the reasoning behind picking various songs. It was almost like an interview and I was tempted to say "Wait, this is awesome. You mind if I capture this on video so everyone can hear this????" but it was the first time we met and I didn't want to freak him out by putting a camera in his face. It was going to just be one of those private rock history moments that you feel you are truly a "lucky man" to hear and see. (will you please forgive me for the obvious overdone pun? Thanks! It had to be done.) He grabbed the guitar and started performing different Crimson and ELP songs for me and then we talked about them afterward! It was a real trip. I loved how he was like a big kid excited about the show he put together and all of the elements. I respect that. Keith is the same way. That's how I am as well and I realized how important that is. Rock n' roll never grows up!

His voice sounded great! Unmistakably "Greg Lake". It's wild to be talking to him and then all of a sudden he starts singing and it's a vocal character you grew up listening to just coming out live right there in front of you. I've never seen him perform live before but I've always loved his voice. Wish I could go see the actual show. They invited me to go on the cruise! But, I've got other Squids to fry. So many cool things happening at once and at light speed. I love it. All in all it was a great time though and something I thought would make for a good "Squids Travels" adventure. Hope you enjoy this eventful rock n' roll stuff. 

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