I’ve had some good fun putting together tribute shows in recent years: Elton John in 2017, and Fleetwood Mac in 2018. These were both a lot of work, but also incredibly rewarding thanks to my one guiding principle: I wanted to play with people I knew and admired, but whom for whatever reason I hadn’t gotten the chance to play with before. Other than my love of the music, the desire to collaborate with talented friends was my reason for putting these shows together.
In 2019 I’m doing it again, this time paying tribute to the brilliant music of Peter Gabriel. The seeds of this show were planted over beers with my old friend Chad Beeler, owner of The Bass Shop in West Seattle and all-around purveyor of The Funk. Chad and I toiled in music stores together for many years, which gave us hundreds of hours to trade licks and compare our favorite artists. We both loved Peter Gabriel, with his Secret World live album getting heavy rotation on the Bass Northwest stereo during the late 90s. (It was a close second to Judas Priest’s Unleashed In The East for the all-time most played trophy.) So when I mentioned the idea of doing a Gabriel tribute, Chad was emphatic:
“We have to do it. It must happen.”
Okay, then. Fortunately Chad reminded me that our mutual friend Dave Hill Jr. had recently moved back to the Seattle area. Dave is a supremely funky drummer, and perhaps just as nerdy as Chad and I are for the music of Mr. Gabriel. I figured this material would be a heavy lift for any rhythm section. But I also knew I’d heard Chad and Dave lay down some of the sickest grooves of my life, so really I wasn’t worried. (I can’t speak for them, but they did agree to play the shows.) Dave & Chad both played with the amazing Jack Quick back in the day, and what I remember most about that band (other than the overall brilliance of Jack’s songs and guitar playing) was the controlled fury of their work as a rhythm section. I had no idea what the hell was going on much of the time, but I knew it grooved like a motherfucker.
And of course, though we’ve known each other for well past two decades, the three of us have never really played together—until now. So…mission accomplished? We’ll know for sure on June 22nd.
Of course I had a strong suspicion that Kathy Moore was also a huge Gabriel fan. (Okay, maybe more than a suspicion—she flat out told me.) So when I floated the idea to Kathy, she answered “YES” before I even had time to finish my pitch. This was a tremendous boost for me, since Kathy is basically a rock star who supercharges every musical project she touches. Knowing that we needed another vocalist in the mix, Kathy recommended her friend Rick Miller, who also quickly assented. Rick has already imparted a lot of knowledge & wisdom about Peter Gabriel to me, as well as bringing his remarkable voice to the ensemble.
Lastly we needed a keyboardist, and hopefully one who was also a great singer. Right away I fixated on one person: my old friend and collaborator Javier Garavito. Jav is one of the most remarkable people I’ve known, and although we’ve worked on many musical projects together not one of them has ever made it to the stage. His impact on my life and my approach to music has been profound, and probably deserves its own post someday. But suffice to say he jumped on board, and the two of us will finally get to bitch about each other’s monitor mix, share a dressing room, drink cheap beer, all the good stuff that goes with being in a band. It’s going to be great.
This is all happening on Saturday, June 22nd at The Royal Room in Columbia City. There’s an early all-ages show at 6:30, and a late show at 9:30. Advance tickets are available for both shows, and highly recommended since the Royal Room is on the smallish side. Each show will be two sets: the first set is a mix of material from PG’s career, and the second set will be a performance of his masterpiece album So in its entirety. We’ve been working hard individually and in sections, and that work is about to hit a fever pitch when the full band rehearsals kick in next week.
When I was finishing the last Explone album I arrived at the conclusion that for me, music is a quest for joy. I know with absolute certainty that it will be a joy to play with Chad, Dave, Kathy, Rick and Javier, and I look forward to it immensely. Hopefully some of that joy can be spread around to the audience as well.