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mikey d

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I am a keyboardist. A few years ago I told other musicians my age this and they laughed. I think most of them pictured me hunched over a radio-shack model (though sadly that is what my broke-ass played for some time)playing around with the cheesy rythms and brass-synth sounds. I tried playing in some punk bands that realy didn't work out, and then I almost quit playing altogether.

Then I heard the Doors.

I had a sudden change of heart and went and started playing my keyboard again with a newfound passion. I instantly adopted a very Manzarek-esque style.

Then I heard Kind of Blue.

Jazz was now my thing. I brought the album to my teacher and said 'teach me this'. I started learning my blues scales, my jazz theory, etc. and I joined a band with a few friends and we started playing some realy dumbed-down jazz, along with some Pixies and REM. The drummer of this band introduced me to some of his friends and that in turn introduced me to improvisational jamming.

I didn't even know such an incredible world of music existed. We'd get together on a friday night, smoke some herb and just play all night. I was introduced to Phish, SCI, and many other great jambands.I still retained my Manzarek influenced sound, but dabbled with my slight knowledge of jazz as well. Then the big one hit.

I heard John Medeski.

I went to a jam with a few older musicians and one of them told me about this band I'd dig. They threw on Combustication and my jaw hit the floor. I had a new God. I was shown an entire new world of keyboards. The hammond organ was my new infatuation. Since then, I have been continuosly inspired by his playing, and seeing him live was a crown moment of my young life.

The jamband world is a world where keyboardists belong. Organs and rhodes and moogs and wurlitzers alike are all an essential part of this world, and I couldn't be happier.

I play in a band now where I'm not there just to add some effects in the background, or to play the odd intro. I'm an essential part of the music. Being involved with imrpovisational music has opened so many musical doors for me and now I have so many routes to go down now, so many genres to explore. I belong in this world; I love it here, and I'm sure it's what I'll be doing until my hands can no longer dance upon the keys.

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Really its just Hard Guitar Rock(never mind Deep Purple) where you don't hear a lot of keyboard. There is a stereotype amongst 'rockers' that a keyboard is too cheesy for that hard sound. But when you look at the history of keyboards in popular music, there really arn't too many genres that don't reley on the keys. Blues, Reggae, Jazz, Pop, R&B, Trance/Dance, Funk, Disco, all often reley on keys to provide authenticity to the sound. There is nothing like a Twangy Clav in a funk groove, or bubbly organ in a reggae song...

other players/bands to check out for some ivory inspiration are :

-Booker T & the MG's (the original jamband)

-Karl Densons Tiny Universe (love the key player!)

-Herbie Hancock (can make a rhodes scream like an angry eagle)

-Oscar Peterson (this old fucker keeps me humble every time i listen)

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Oh cool a keyboard thread [smile]

When a bunch of friends in junior high were starting up a band, I wanted desperately to be a part of it and since my only musical training was trombone and piano lessons from when I was 6, I volunteered to play keyboards. I spent a couple of years pretty much backing up the 2 guitar players [Roll Eyes]

but then I discovered Deep Purple [Cool]

From there it went to Styx (don't laugh), Edgar Winter, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, then on to Dream Theater, Spock's Beard, Niacin, Aryeon, etc. etc.

Being a gigging keyboard is kind of frustrating at times, most of the time the soundguys don't even know what to do with a keyboard, and almost always assume you're just going to be backing up the guitar players [smile] But I'm glad I've found a community that appreciates them.

Oh by the way it totally sucks to not be able to go to open mic nights and just jump on stage and borrow someone else's axe. I swear I'm gonna buy either an accordian or a Jan Hammer strap on just so I can jam at those things [smile]

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Originally posted by Quiver-Rick:

From there it went to Styx (don't laugh)

Definitely NOT! Dennis DeYoung was/is a heavy keyboard player, and he's also a great example of a keyboard player leading the band. Plus, if you want to check out some psycho 70s-style keyboard riffing from the current incarnation of Styx (featuring Larry Gowan on keys), down this:


BELIEVE ME, it's worth it. [big Grin]

And Phred, I agree that it's more common for a guitar player to be the "featured" guy in many of the musical forms we're talking about here, but there are tonnes of examples of great acts throughout rock history with keyboards at front-and-centre:

- Many of the great 50s rock acts were piano-driven: Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, heck even Chuck Barry's featured Johnny Johnson solos almost as often as Barry's solos

- In the 60s, you had The Animals, The Doors, Manfred Mann, The Zombies, The Rascals and lots of others all with keys up front

- The 70s obviously brought your Keith Emerson/Rick Wakeman types. Prog-rock was often all about the keyboards, plus you had the beginnings of fully key'ed up pop-rock acts (Gary Wright, Gino Vannelli, etc.) using lots of synths and totally loosing the guitars. To say nothing of Stevie Wonder...

- The 80s... well come on, keyboard driven bands ruled the 80s. Say what you like about New Order, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran and so on, but they definitely did some neat things with synths.

- The 90s was probably the worst time for keyboards in rock to date, although it did bring us Ben Folds who FRIGGIN' RULES!

And these days, I think you're seeing a resurgence in keyboards in rock and pop. The R&B/Soul revival is one great case, plus you've got many of the heaviest jam oriented bands, such as Gov't Mule and Blues Traveler adding keys to their mix. All and all, I think having great keyboards in bands is becoming very cool once again. [smile]


Mr. M.

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Plus, if you want to check out some
70s-style keyboard riffing from the current incarnation of Styx (featuring Larry Gowan on keys), down this:

Finally someone who knows Styx beyond Mr. Roboto [big Grin]

Yeah I actually got the new Styx CD Cyclorama for my birthday a few weeks ago, it's pretty good in fact, it's nice to see that Styx is trying to get back to their more proggish roots. The packaging is very cool too, it was designed by Storm Thorgerson (of Pink Floyd fame).

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Yeah I actually got the new Styx CD Cyclorama for my birthday a few weeks ago, it's pretty good in fact, it's nice to see that Styx is trying to get back to their more proggish roots.

Dude, I was just saying in another thread that I was POSITIVE that I was the only person who hung out on this board who owns a copy Cyclorama! [Razz] Just goes to show you.

Yeh, I actually dug it quite a bit - best thing they've done since '81 IMHO. I particularly liked the more dramatic stuff like "Killing The Thing You Love", "These Are The Times" and such - that's what I always liked about Styx, not so much the sirupy stuff they were known for later.

Peace bro,

Mr. M.

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yeah i'm a big fan of bill evans, and thelonious and herbie are my two other fav piano players ever. Mccoy tyner too. Anybody heard heard his crazy, crazy avant garde work called cosmos? I have it on tape and it's simply nuts. Of course also Page as well as Ben Folds and alot of alternative stuff.

And on a side note the guitarist of my band's uncle is the singer of dream theatre, to whoever it was who mentioned them.

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