Greg Morgan

GregSingleWebWhere are you from?
West Palm Beach, Florida. We moved away when I was one, so I don’t really remember it at all.

What instrument(s) do you play? Here we go… Guitar, bass, drums, trumpet, french horn, harmonica, lap steel, pedal steel, cello, mandolin, piano, accordion, ukulele, Hawaiian temoloa. I suppose the real question should be if I’m any good at playing them. Oh, and I sing too.

Do you have any formal music training? Yes. I graduated from the Musicians Institute in Hollywood California. That was a life-changing experience for sure. I highly recommend sending your 18 year old off to Hollywood, CA. They will come back a completely different person for sure. I learned so much from that school, but how could you not when people like Scott Henderson, Jeff Berlin, Tim Bogert, Don Mock, Keith Wyatt, Paul Gilbert, Jennifer Batten and Paul Hansen were your teachers. Name dropping, I know and I also have to give props to my first real guitar teacher Greg Tafoya. He tough me the fundamentals of music theory and music performance that have been the cornerstone for everything I’ve learned since then.

Thinking back to early childhood, what was your first experience with music?  What song do you remember most as a child? My mom was really into music and she had a small, but complete record collection featuring: The Beatles, Neil Diamonnd, Doobie Brothers, The Serendipity Singers, Lobo, Mac Davis (she was so in love with him) and The Beach Boys among others. I guess the first song, or songs that did something for me was Paperback Writer by the Beatles and Neil Diamond’s Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show. I loved the guitar riff and the backup vocals in Paperback Writer and it’s funny, I thought that song was about a scary monster called the Bagrightman. I don’t know, Traveling Salvation Show was the first song that made me emotional from just the music. The dynamics were so amazing and moving. I was probably eight at the time.

What was the first song that you ever played?  How did it make you feel? I think it was the 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) by Simon & Garfunkel on trumpet in 5th grade. Our band teacher Mr. Zorich took the time to explain eighth note triplets (I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep…) and something clicked with me. I felt like I knew some special, musical secret that most people didn’t.

How did you become involved in music? Maybe this is related or not? When I was in 7th grade – shortly after John Lennon died, there was this goofy kid in my math class that was always air drumming and one day he looked over at me and asked if I played too. I lied and said I played guitar because, while I had an old Harmony guitar with one string on it, I certainly did not know how to play it. I told him I knew how to play Don’t ‘cha Stop by The Cars and he said we should get together and play at his dad’s mobile recording studio because his dad was a record producer. So I ran home and worked as hard as I could to learn that song. I wasn’t even close, but the seed was planted and I was hooked. Strangely, every time I went to his house to see this mobile recording studio it was out on location somewhere – I never saw it. Years later I saw that kid at a party and he fessed up that he didn’t play drums at all and his dad had nothing to do with the recording industry. I thanked him for lying to me though because I would have never started playing guitar without his grandiose imagination.

Who are some of your musical influences? I suppose that depends on my mood or a specific period in my life. In 7th grade I thought I was a punk rocker because I listened to The Police, The Cars and The B-52’s until I discovered Black Flag, Sex Pistols and DOA. At the same time flipping my mix tape over in the Walkman and listening to Journey (anyone that bashes them just doesn’t know talent), Deep Purple, Cream and Derek and the Dominos. Then there was the guitar nerd phase which included all the usual players that I can’t even come close to playing like. Steve Vai, Joe Satraini, Mike Stern, Scott Henderson, Gary Moore, Ritchie Blackmore, Eddie Van Halen, etc. Later, I became influenced by a pretty small circle of extremely talented country guitar players like Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and the chickin’ pickin’ royalty like Brent Mason, Redd Volkaert, Albert Lee, James Burton, Vince Gill, Steve Wariner, and John Jorgenson. Man those guys can play! One of my all-time favorite bands, dada, is hardly known by most of my friends and they have been a huge influence on my writing and guitar playing. Check them out for sure! For El Problemo, my writing has been heavily influenced by some great alt-country/Americana bands like The Old-97’s, Calexico, The Emperors of Wyoming, John Hiatt, Glen Phillips the list goes on and on. I’m sure I’ll read this later and wonder why I completely forgot about someone paramount to my style.

What do you think your biggest break or greatest opportunity has been so far in your musical career? Well, it was really amazing when Dick Ramada asked me to try out for Dick and the Chicks. They were legendary in the Denver music scene and to be able to hop on that wagon was truly a ride I’ll never forget. He never actually told me I had the gig, he just said, “Well, don’t cut your hair Morgan.” It was also how I came to know Lonnie and Dan.

Where did you meet El Problemo’s current lineup and how long have you been together? I met Lonnie and Dan while playing in Dick and the Chicks and I met Bruce during my stint as a Humbucker. We have only been together as El Problemo for about four months now.

What has been the biggest challenge for you or the group musically? For this group, it’s been a challenge keeping the music some what restrained and Earthy. When Lonnie, Dan and I played together with Dick and the Chicks, it was always in your face Rock n’ Roll. Not really heavy metal, but certainly raw. For El Problemo the vision is to let the feel of the music do the talking, not so much the power. We often fall right back into it though, especially live.

What has been the most bizarre thing (thrown) on the stage with you?  How did you react? I once had a whole basket of french fries and ketchup thrown at me. The coward threw them when I turned around and I never saw who did it, but it was a nice gesture because I had been traveling all day and was hungry. I ate them.

How did the band get its name? My son came up with the name. I asked him to do something for me and he said, “No problemo dad” and I said, “That’s it!” I liked the idea of some mythical character wearing a Lucha Libre mask named El Problemo so we went with it. This was the easiest time I’ve ever had naming a band.

What can people expect to see at your live performance?
With El Problemo they can expect to see a somewhat eclectic variety of styles. I’m trying real hard to keep with the Americana, Alt-Country vibe when I’m writing new songs for the band, but I guess at my core I’m a rocker and that will always rear it’s head. Whatever they see though, they will be entertained.

Do you have other interests or talents you would like to share with us?
I’m a pretty accomplished welder and I like creating metal sculpture. I love working on and riding old Triumph motorcycles and in another life I used to be a software developer.