He did it in Nashville and New York, and he now hopes to do it in Albemarle and take it beyond.
Greg Garing, who restarted his signature hillbilly music jamboree revue shows in New York last year and celebrated the release of a self-titled album on L.E.S. Records with a one-off last month at Pianos, has moved his base of operations to Albemarle, N.C.
“It’s about to become a boomtown!” enthuses Garing of the thriving hamlet some 40 miles north of Charlotte.
“It’s got so much potential for me to keep doing what I’ve been doing for years—real Americana music,” he continues. “I can take the show on the road and go all over America and film it.”
Which is exactly what Garing intends to do, that and create other original Internet radio and video programming from previously recorded content and new material shot in-studio and outside.
“This town’s a trip,” he continues. “It’s like an abandoned town with three empty theaters and an empty opera house 50 feet away from where I am—but I have full permission to shoot there. It’s not that close to Nashville—but closer than New York.”
Originally called Greg Garing’s Alphabet City Opry, Garing’s loosely structured New York gatherings launched in 1997 at tiny East Village club 9C—now Banjo Jim’s. He had moved here from Nashville, bringing along the hardcore traditional country scene he created on Nashville’s Lower Broadway, which helped pave the way for BR549.
Garing kept his ragtag bunch of top area bluegrass and old-time country players going at 9C for the next year or so, even while recording his acclaimed trippy modern rock album Alone. He also formed other bands devoted to other distinct pop music genres, then took a long hiatus from Manhattan before returning to town last year and starting up the Opry—renamed as Greg Garing’s Full Circle—at Teneleven, another small club just a couple blocks up from Banjo Jim’s at Ninth Street and Avenue C.
Like its first New York incarnation, his rejuvenated Opry gained a loyal following, as well as musicians including drummer Todd Perlmutter, also the founder of L.E.S. Records. But it proved too hard to maintain, and when the opportunity to move to Albemarle arose, he grabbed it.
“We’ve set up a full audio and video studio for recording and editing, and have started production,” says Garing. “I’m calling it Greg Garing’s Great American Roots Project—a combination of all the different styles of American music that I’ve played in their purest form, without crowding everything together.”
Likewise, Greg Garing reflects many of the music styles—classic country, bluegrass, rockabilly, honky-tonk—that are his influences and specialities.
Lead track “My Time For Leaving” is a horn-drenched blues tune, “like what I learned from the Harlem All Stars guys I played with,” he says, referring to the the r&b/jazz musicians, including the late saxophonist Bubba Brooks, whom he regularly worked with years ago in New York.
“Am I Even A Memory,” meanwhile, is a great country song that evokes the comparisons with Hank Williams that greeted Garing’s legendary honky-tonk shows at Nashville’s Tootsies Orchid Lounge back in the day.
“There’s blues, country, jazz, western swing,” says Garing, adding, “All vocals are first takes and no trickery, no computer bulls**t.”
The “tentative plan,” he says, is to follow Greg Garing quickly with an album produced in Nashville “with some of my old teachers and famous old cats and heroes who are still kicking.”
As the Erie, Pa. native has played with country/bluegrass heroes like Jimmy Martin, John Hartford, Vassar Clements and Jesse McReynolds, one can only look forward to Garing’s next Nashville collaborations–and expect nothing but the best results.
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