(Originally aired: 02-01-99)
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Guest For TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 9, 2008
Guitarist / Composer / Song Writer
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More about: GARY LUCAS
GARY LUCAS BIO
A world class guitar hero, a Grammy-nominated songwriter, an international recording artist with over a dozen acclaimed solo albums to date, and a soundtrack composer for film and television, GARY LUCAS is on the move in 2008.
Dubbed “The Thinking Man’s Guitar Hero” by The New Yorker recently, “the legendary leftfield guitarist” by The Guardian, “Guitarist of 1000 Ideas” by The New York Times, and “a true axe God” by Melody Maker, the British world music magazine fRoots recently described Gary Lucas as “without question, the most innovative and challenging guitarist playing today.” Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke recently wrote: “Gary Lucas is one of the best and most original guitarists in America” in a glowing review of Gary’s latest album “COMING CLEAN” which has received 4 star rave reviews internationally. Gary was also selected recently by the editors of DownBeat Magazine as one of their “Hot 66 6-Stringers”, alongside John McLaughlin, Richard Thompson, B.B King, and other guitar legends.
GARY LUCAS tours the world relentlessly both solo and with several different ensembles, including his longtime band GODS AND MONSTERS, whose ranks once included the late singer JEFF BUCKLEY. Gary co-wrote two of Jeff Buckley’s most famous hits, “Grace” and “Mojo Pin” when Jeff was in his group, songs which later became the title track and the first track on Jeff’s double platinum Sony album “Grace”—which MOJO recently named the #1 Modern Classic Rock Album. Gary and Jeff’s early collaborations can also be heard on the recent JEFF BUCKLEY and GARY LUCAS album “SONGS TO NO ONE”, which charted internationally with worldwide sales approaching 100,000. Other notable recent GARY LUCAS releases include “THE EDGE OF HEAVEN,” an album of Gary’s lush arrangements of classic Chinese pop tunes from the 1930s, which received international raves everywhere from Rolling Stone to the Wall Street Journal to the Hong Kong Music Weekly. Gary also recently released a compilation of the best of his early band and solo work entitled “OPERATORS ARE STANDING BY”, which garnered a 4-star MOJO review which stated: “This album confirms Gary Lucas as THE psychedelic guitarist for the post-modern set.”
Gary’s main focus at present is leading his NYC-based group GODS AND MONSTERS—a psychedelic supergroup jam band based around his guitar playing, singing, and Grammy-nominated songwriting.
Described as “a 21st century Cream” by Rolling Stone, GODS AND MONSTERS features GARY LUCAS on guitars and vocals, with JERRY HARRISON (Talking Heads) on keyboards and vocals, ERNIE BROOKS (Modern Lovers) on bass and vocals, BILLY FICCA (Television) on drums, JASON CANDLER (Hungry March Band) on alto sax., and recent Yale graduate JOE HENDEL on trombone and keyboards. With their illustrious pedigrees, they comprise an art-rock supergroup, Time Out New York recently writing: “The group is mind-blowing!” and The New Yorker recently hailing them as “An underground-rock fan’s dream team”.
GARY LUCAS & GODS AND MONSTERS toured Holland in May 2007 and Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Russia the previous spring in the company of former Talking Heads keyboardist and hit producer JERRY HARRISON (Live, OAR), who is now playing regularly in GODS AND MONSTERS and is currently producing their next studio album. He recently joined band at the 2007 SXSW convention in Austin where Gary was given an unheard of double-length showcase which garnered significant press attention—and at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC for the CMJ Festival for a show which was taped for a live double-sided DVD and CD to be released in the spring of 2008, which will feature a 5.1 surround sound mix by Jerry Harrison. He also recently joined them at New York’s Knitting Factory for a concert with Czech underground band The Plastic People, where the group was greeted backstage by both former Czech President Vaclav Havel and David Byrne.
“COMING CLEAN”, the most recent GARY LUCAS & GODS AND MONSTERS album was released last year in 4 different international editions: in Russia by Exotica Music under the title “Follow”, and on Mighty Quinn in the USA, Canada, and Japan; in the UK through Side Salad/Universal; in France through Productions Speciales; and in the Benelux on DAWA Records. The album was mixed by Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads) and Harold Burgon and features vocal contributions from David Johansen (New York Dolls), sultry French superstar Elli Medeiros, and Richard Barone (Bongos). The reviews for “COMING CLEAN” have been uniformly excellent, with Rolling Stone raving: “Gary Lucas is one of the best and most original guitarists in America…a songwriter of established invention…he plays astounding guitar throughout, but always for the sake of the song.” The album received 4 star reviews in MOJO, Uncut, and Record Collector, and in France’s Crossroads and Vibrations.
In addition to being lionized by the critics, Gary’s work and playing has received much enthusiastic praise from his musical peers. He recently contributed a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Ain’t Got You” to “Light of Day”, a Bruce Springsteen tribute album for charity, which prompted the Boss himself to remark: “You’re a phenomenal guitarist—and your version of my song is phenomenal as well!!.” Gary also recently received high compliments from Lou Reed, who praised his “lovely guitar playing” on his collaborations with Jeff Buckley, described Gary’s solo version of his song “European Son” as “Beyond Cool!”, and told him, “I could listen to you play for hours, Gary”.
In addition to Gods and Monsters, Gary co-leads with composer/musician Phillip Johnston a jazz-oriented, all instrumental 7-piece tribute band featuring some of New York’s greatest improvisers, dedicated to the music of his former mentor Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet), FAST ‘N’ BULBOUS, THE CAPTAIN BEEFHEART PROJECT. Applying a free-wheeling horn and guitar-driven approach to the knotty avant-blues/rock/jazz compositions of Van Vliet, they’ve made triumphant appearances at the Saalfelden Festival in Austria, the Frankfurt Jazz Festival, and the Lisbon Jazz Em Agosto Festival. Their debut album “Pork Chop Blue Around the Rind” received much favorable praise worldwide, was profiled on NPR, and charted on college radio in the US. An extensive European tour last November saw them selling out shows at the London Jazz Festival and at Amsterdam’s BimHuis, as well as concerts in Bern, Vienna, Schwaz, and Llubljana Slovenia. The band will soon begin work on their second album.
Gary also played as part of the reunion of Captain Beefheart alumni known as THE MAGIC BAND for several years, performing with them at the UK’s famed Glastonbury Festival, London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire, a sold-out night at Royal Festival Hall, and at the All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival in LA where they were introduced by Beefheart/Magic Band fan Matt Groening (The Simpsons), and in Camber Sands UK. They made several extensive UK and European tours, which took them to Amsterdam’s Paradiso, Belgrade Serbia, and to Sweden, where they performed live on Swedish national television. They released a rehearsal CD “Back to the Front”, cited as one of the albums of the year in The Wire, a live double album “21st Century Mirror Men”, and a live DVD/documentary, “Crow’s Milk” with narration by the late John Peel, one of Beefheart’s biggest champions.
GARY LUCAS established his reputation as a guitarist’s guitarist with 5 years spent playing with his childhood hero, the visionary vocalist/composer/bandleader CAPTAIN BEEFHEART (alias Don Van Vliet).
A graduate of Yale University, where he was a DJ and served as Music Director at WYBC FM, Gary’s childhood dream of joining Beefheart’s band came true when he recorded two Captain Beefheart albums in the early 80’s on Virgin Records, “Doc at the Radar Station” (1980) and “Ice Cream for Crow” (1982), which featured his explosive solo renditions of Don Van Vliet’s twisted instrumental compositions, “Flavor Bud Living” and “Evening Bell”—about which the latter piece Esquire wrote “Gary Lucas apparently grew extra fingers in order to negotiate his way through it”. These recordings put Gary on the musical map as a force to be reckoned with, and laid the groundwork for his subsequent career.
In 1988, Gary Lucas mounted his first solo guitar show at New York’s downtown mecca for avant-garde and alternative music, the Knitting Factory, and was an instant hit. The club became the launching pad for Gary’s ensuing European success, as he was invited shortly after his first Knitting Factory gig to appear at the prestigious 1988 Berlin JazzFest, where the Berlin Morgenpost raved in a banner headline after his performance, “It is Lucas!”
To date Gary Lucas has released over a dozen highly acclaimed albums, played as a guest on over 50 other albums, and has performed in 35 countries around the world, from Tokyo to Trieste to Tel Aviv. He recently made his Australian debut in the company of UK electronica band Future Sound of London, and has been a regular visitor to London’s Royal Festival Hall (5 separate appearances) and Amsterdam’s famed Paradiso (19 separate appearances since 1980).
He has recently expanded his touring base to Russia, where he recently brought Gods and Monsters for his fifth tour of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. This followed on the heels of his fourth tour there in summer 2006, where he performed his original solo guitar score accompanying the silent classic German horror film THE GOLEM (1920) in Moscow and Saint Petersburg and appeared on national tv before an estimated 50 million viewers, as well as being profiled in the Russian edition of Rolling Stone. Since debuting his live score to accompany the silent film in 1989 at the Museum of the Moving Image on a commission from the BAM Next Wave Festival, he’s played with THE GOLEM in over 20 countries all over the world—including sold out performances at the Venice Biennale, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, London’s Royal Festival Hall, the New York Jewish Film Festival at Lincoln Center, as part of a weeklong artist-in-residency at the Quebec City Summer Festival, and in Prague, home of the Golem—as well as at Atlanta’s Dragon*Con, the largest science fiction festival in the world. He also tours with several other music and film projects, including “Sounds of the Surreal”, a program commissioned by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, accompanying 3 short silent film classics by Rene Clair, Fernand Leger, and Ladislaw Starewicz, with his original guitar scores—and “Monsters from the Id”, where Gary improvises live soundtracks to clips from horror classics by Roman Polanski, Mario Bava, Ray Harryhausen, and others. Gary presented the European premiere of “Sounds of the Surreal” in Vienna in September 2007.
Over a long performing career Gary Lucas has played and collaborated with Leonard Bernstein, Captain Beefheart, Jeff Buckley, Lou Reed, John Cale, Robyn Hitchock, Nick Cave, David Johansen, jazz greats Roswell Rudd, Steve Swallow, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, the Willem Breuker Kollektieff, Yael Naim and David Donatien, Ninet Tayeb, Anath Benais, Bob Holman, Greg Cohen, Marc Ribot, Dean Bowman, Jennifer Charles, Lee Ranaldo, Mary Margaret O’Hara, John Zorn, Peter Stampfel, Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye, Claudia Brucken (Propaganda), Paul Humphreys (OMD). Future Sound of London, Joan Osborne (Gary co-wrote Joan’s Grammy-nominated song “Spider Web” from her triple platinum album “Relish”), Najma Ahktar, Karsh Kale, Essra Mohawk, Matthew Sweet, Iggy Pop, Van Dyke Parks, Dead Combo, Adrian Sherwood, Bryan Ferry, Eric Mingus, the Plastic People of the Universe, Richard Barone, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Bob Neuwirth, Geoff Muldaur, John Sebastian, Allen Ginsberg, DJ Spooky, Damo Suzuki and Michael Karoli (Can), Dr. John, Graham Parker, Bob Weir, David Krakauer, Frank London, Steve Bernstein’s Sex Mob, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Min Xiao-Fen, Sonya Cohen, Celest Chong, Jonathan Kane, Jozef Van Wissem, Fred Schneider (B-52s), Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers, Gov’t. Mule), Salman Ahmad (Junoon), Dibyarka Chatterjee, and many others. Most recently his playing can be prominently heard on former Soundgarden/Audioslave singer Chris Cornell’s new album “Carry On”, and he played and co-wrote a song on the new Onetwo album as well as the latest album by the young French singer Melissa Mars (Universal France). Some of these collaborations can be heard on his recent 20-year rarities retrospective album “Improve the Shining Hour” which also features excerpts of his film and tv music for ABC News (he has scored documentaries for ABC shows 20/20 and Turning Point). He’s also produced several major label albums for composer/saxophonists Tim Berne and Peter Gordon (Columbia and Columbia Masterworks retrospectively) as well as for the French avant-rock band Tanger (French Mercury). He recently scored the Oscar-nominated Maysles Films documentary “Lalee’s Kin: The Legacy of Cotton” for HBO, which screened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York as part of their Maysles Films 50 Year Retrospective, and about which Variety wrote: “Gary Lucas’ Delta blues guitar music adds vivid color to this report from America’s forgotten underbelly.” And he’s composed music for documentaries shown on Showtime (“Trust Me”), PBS (“Mayor of the West Side”, nominated for an Emmy this year), and at international film festivals (“The Legacy of Jedwabne”, which was also broadcast internationally).
The breadth and scope of Gary Lucas’ work is impressive, and he straddles genres with ease. His recent release in the World Music category, “The Edge of Heaven,” a dreamy melodic album featuring his arrangements of Chinese pop music of the 1930s, was #1 on the World Music Charts in Canada, and garnered an unbelievable amount of international attention, England’s Q Magazine awarding it 4 Stars, and MOJO writing: “It is simply gorgeous.” In addition, the album was chosen as one of the Best Discs of the year in France’s Liberation newspaper. Gary also received a lengthy profile for the album in The Wall Street Journal, as well as an NPR interview. The title song from the album was featured on the soundtrack to the Bill Moyers PBS Series “Becoming American: The Chinese Experience”.
The album raves go hand in hand with Gary’s international press standing: in the last few years Gary has been profiled and interviewed in Rolling Stone, DownBeat, the Columbia University Spectator, Record Collector, The Wire, MOJO, the International Herald Tribune, the French daily paper Liberation, featured on the cover of the Jewish Weekly Forward, and the national Dutch newspaper Het Parool.
Recent live appearances include a specially commissioned concert at the Czech Embassy in Washington DC by invitation of the Czech ambassador to the US spotlighting Gary’s solo guitar arrangements of Czech classical music in honor of the 14th anniversary of the Czech Velvet Revolution (Gary is of Bohemian descent on his father’s side). He made an extensive solo acoustic tour of Spain recently and will return to perform there in early 2008. Gary has also lectured on his life and career, his songwriting technique, extensive collaborations, and the music business from the inside, at the Amsterdam Music Conservatorum, Yale University (his alma mater), the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, New York University and Columbia University. He also has given guitar master classes at Amsterdam’s Paradiso, the Amsterdam Music Conservatorum, and at the University of Hawaii. In March 2006 he gave a lecture and solo performance at McGill University in Montreal for a course taught by Prof. Sandy Pearlman (Blue Oyster Cult/Clash producer) and Music School Dean Don McLean entitled “Bruckner and Heavy Metal”, where Gary performed his “Bruckner Fantasia” based on themes from Bruckner’s 8th Symphony, which was filmed and broadcast on CTV, the Canadian national television network.
Recent soundtrack work includes an original score for “Trust Me”, a Showtime documentary about a summer camp for Christian, Muslim and Jewish children, and a score for Slawomir Grunberg’s award-winning documentary “Bed and Breakfast 9/11”, which was shown on PBS in September last year. In addition he scored and is interviewed in Grunberg’s “The Legacy of Jedwabne,” which is playing the international film festival circuit and has been broadcast internationally. He also has contributed music to several BBC documentaries recently and the Canadian Movie of the Week, “Dragon Boys.” He is about to begin work on an original score for a new documentary about American collegiate football, entitled “For Love and Honor.”
Last year Gary released his second album with Dutch lutist Jozef Van Wissem, “The Universe of Absence,” and the pair recently performed live on the Dutch national tv network VPRO show “Free Sounds”. A third album from the pair, whose unusual music combines medieval Renaissance lute stylings with Gary’s country blues National steel guitar and electronics, is due out this year.
Gary Lucas is also working with the female UK based DJ Cosmo (Colleen Murphy) on a new dance-oriented project called Wild Rumpus. Their first single “Musical Blaze-Up” sold-out it’s 12-inch vinyl run in 2 days upon release in May 2007, was played extensively on the BBC and in dance programs all over European radio, received rave reviews in Time Out London, Time Out New York, and HITS Magazine, and was chosen as one of the Best of the Week by iTunes UK, who made it available for download on a special sampler alongside new tracks by Prince, Crowded House and Gwen Stefani. Gary has been performing DJ improv sets with Cosmo as Wild Rumpus in a variety of exotic locales lately, including high profile gigs in Romania and India, the London ICA, the Brussels Klindende Munt Festival, and they recently made their live NYC debut before a packed house at famed New York dance club Cielo.
In addition, Gary has been in the studio recently recording with UK electronica ensemble The Dark Poets (James Hunter and Sarah Hilliard) for a new album collaboration due out in April 2008 on the Some Bizarre label.
Gary Lucas makes his home in New York City.
For more info—
Phone: 212 243 3619
Mobile: 646 284 5546
720 Greenwich Street
NYC NY 10014
Tuesday September 9, 2008
10:30 - 11:30 AM / (NYC Time)
Channel 34 of the Time/Warner & Channel
82 of the RCN
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241 West 36th StreetNew York,N.Y. 10018 Phone: 212-695-6351 E-Mail: HHC@NYC.RR.COM