Mark Grieco, bass and vocals, Tim Morton, drums and vocals, and Jesse Peters, guitar and vocals, are the members of GMP, an area band that has been playing together for the past two years.
After a long break last year after Grieco broke his ankle in a snowboarding accident, they are again active in the area music scene, and agreed to answer a few questions
RFS: What type of music do you play?
Mark: I'd call it Rhythm and Blues if we had to put a name on it.
Jesse: It's eclectic and hard to label - I call it Rock & Roll. Simple and to the point. When pressed, I will mention that we play a range of styles, from acoustic-based pop songs to rockabilly throw-downs to backbeat rock. We have some modern groove numbers too, such as my tune "Slipstream", as well as classic covers like "Day Tripper."
RFS: Name some of the groups you cover.
Los Lobos, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Hiatt, Ry Cooder, Chris Whitley, The Beatles, The Stones, The Subdudes. We do a Michael Jackson and a Brad Paisley song too, so we're kind of all over the place!
RFS: Do you do originals, and if so, who writes?
Yes, Jesse writes a lot of our material and a typical set consists of 1/3-1/2 of his tunes.
RFS: How would you describe the local music scene? It seems right now that a lot of groups that are not doing your typical covers are still able to play around quite a bit. Do you see that as well?
Mark: I think there is a vibrant music scene around here, and that most music lovers are more interested in hearing music that is new to their ears than the same old covers, so in addition to featuring Jesse's songs we tend to play what we like to listen to, much of which is outside the mainstream.
Jesse: I agree with Mark. There are a good number of bands and solo acts here, which I think is great. The more the merrier - there's room for all of us. I want to see more mutual reinforcement - we need to support each other, not dis each other.
Sam Talmadge is gonna be a force on the guitar, Matt McGrail is going for it with his new album and a good following in Keene. There are many talented folks around here, and many eager listeners to go along with them. I see it as kind of a united-we-stand situation in a little area like this. Get out there, support someone you've never heard before and be positive!
RFS: What are your musical backgrounds?
Mark: Been singing all my life, long ago played guitar and sang in coffe houses, was the bass player/vocalist in Root Notes and the Originals, and have been singing choral folk music with various groups for the last 18 years.
Jesse: I've been playing guitar since 9th grade and singing all my life, though I didn't combine the two 'til I was a senior, when I also wrote my first song. I played acoustic from the start as well as electric. I'm pretty eclectic, both in my tastes and writing style. I studied jazz in college and simultaneously was playing acoustic music in coffee houses, and remain committed to a mix of styles.
Tim: I grew up in a musical family. As a kid in Brattleboro in the 70's it was not uncommon to have two or three different bands practicing in our huge old Oak Street house. Probably explains my dad's numerous trips to the Elks Club! My big break came when I studied with Gerry James at the Brattleboro Music School in the late 70's. I learned from him to treat the drums as an instrument and to contribute to the song. I have played in many bands in a number of styles including county, blues , R & B, Rock and Roll, Heavy Metal (not fun!), Swing and Pop. Popular acts I've been in preveous to GMP include The MorTones, The Jacksonville Blues Band and After Hours.
RFS: What are your individual influences? What did you listen to growing up, and what new music are you listening to now?
Mark: My parents were "folkies" so I grew up with Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter Paul and Mary, and the like. Current influences range from Daniel Lanois and Chris Whitley to the Subdudes and the Neville Brothers, as well as traditional and vocal music.
Jesse: Like Mark, I grew up surrounded primarily by folk and classical music. I heard Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, jazz, blues, Bonnie Raitt and classical music around the house, along with a heavy dose of 70s A.M. radio in the car. I was hooked by rock from the start-I remember loving The Cars and Joan Jett as a fifth grader, then getting into Queen, Yes and eventually Led Zep, David Bowie and all the great guitarists, past and present. Currently I'm listening to old rock circa the 50s, John Coltrane and whatever's on Prairie Home Companion. I love the new crop of great bluegrass players, like Chris Thiele. I like Brad Paisley, too.
Tim: Earthy and funky drummers are my big influences. Chiefly Richie Hayward of Little Feat, Ginger Baker and Jim Keltner. Growing up, I listened to Little Feat, Zeppelin, ZZ Top and endlessy to Hank Mobley's album "The Flip." Porcupine Tree and Medeski, Martin and Wood are my favorite "new" music but I also love John Mayer, John Hammond, The Subdudes and anything with Ginger Baker on it
RFS: Mark, I know you do some shape note singing. Do you incorporate that into any of your work with GMP? There is a group, Grizzly Bear, that is making quite an impact with their vocals, and they have a background with shape note and other types of vocal work. Have you heard them?
Mark: We don't really incorporate those influences directly, but harmonies are very important to me and we are always striving to make these a part of our sound. I haven't heard of Grizzly Bear (I'll look them up!), but another band that is influenced by shape note singing is Cordelia's Dad, fronted by Tim Erikson who worked on the soundtrack to Cold Mountain.
RFS: Where do you play in the area? What are your upcoming shows?
We'll be at PKs in Bellow Falls on Jan. 16, and at Pleasant Valley Brewery in Saxtons River on Feb. 12. We did New Years Eve at the Saxtons River Inn and have played at McCliments in Putney as well.