Summer is over.....I know it has been a while. I thank you all for the nice messages and condolences over the last year and a half. Life has been happening........and I also moved - not too far away from my other house. Downsizing, since it is just me and the cat. That was a 2 month chore, with all the packing, purging and then unpacking and more purging....uncovering many nice memories, but bittersweet. Then weeks of painting and fixing up the "old" house. Now, I'm almost fully up and running with my new studio with a great sunset view of the Conejo Valley, and on a clear day I can see the top of the Channel Islands.
The latest news is that I'm coming back to London, UK and the East Coast in September-October for a bunch of my own shows. Please, no more hurricanes. This is not a typical bus tour......in fact, there is no bus. Only a bunch of flights and a rental car here and there. I can't believe there were flights available to allow me to jet up and over almost every day. I'll be hopping up and down the coast a bit and look forward to seeing old friends and fans again.
I've been doing a few GK shows this summer, and some fun guest spots with Peter White (Alaska) and Rick Braun (Lake Tahoe). It was cool to see Jessy J. and her sweet son in Detroit when we played on the same festival bill a couple of weeks ago. I remember us bringing Alex and Stevie along to some fun shows - at Maui Music Fest., Koz Cruise to Alaska, Dolphin Days in Kona and Catalina....Now, they are 25 and 21 and occasionally act as "Roadies" if I have a local show and they are in town and not too busy with their own lives.
I got to re-connect with the Legendary Dave Grusin and Lee Ritenour when they played at Thornton Winery in Temecula. That venue sure has evolved over the decades since it was just a stage with chairs in the field. I played the first year with Ricardo Silveira.
Anyone who remembers our DC band Natural Bridge, or my first LA group at Bon Appetit might recognize the guy below with the large tuna melt. Drummer Joe Dougherty came thru LA with The Grass Roots and I went to hang with him at The Canyon Club. The band sounded great, all those hits from the late '60's and early '70's. Sitting right next to me was a couple who saw my Ledo's Pizza hat and immediately knew I was from Maryland. We had a nice chat about the original Adelphi, MD restaurant.
I recently spoke to Shelby Flint, and we talked about getting together soon on some music.......... which is a reminder that our "classic" acoustic jazz holiday CD, "Home for the Holidays" is now available with a special deal, since it is never too early to plan for all those last minute holiday gifts. Just order a bunch for $10 ea. If you need more or less, just send a message.
I still feel lucky to be out there playing my own music, so I'll see you out there soon, and I hope to have some new music out in the next year.
2 women who are key in my life and art have passed away in the last year and a half.
Yvonne, of course, and just last month, my first girlfriend at age 16, Eileen (Overman) Carson Schatz.
Eileen is well known as the founder of Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble in Maryland, and formerly of Fiddle Puppet Cloggers. Clogging and singing in schools, arts camps, Traditional music festivals and concert halls all over the world for the last 40 years. We only reconnected once, on a snowy afternoon before my Holiday Jazz show at Ram's Head in Annapolis, MD with Shelby. Even then, she was busy and had a performance the same night as mine. Here is a piece of the letter I sent to her after hearing of her cancer diagnosis.
"We started together learning Laura Nyro and Joni Mitchell songs in your parent’s living room. We had lots of fun hanging out and traveling, and experienced our first Fiddlers Convention at Union Grove in 1972. Who knew that you would become the "Cloggerina General"? Well, obviously you knew right away, and never stopped.....
To see all that you have done, and all the young people you have inspired with your art and commitment to traditional music and dance just gives me goosebumps. I’m so proud of you for taking it to the people and eeking out a living while having so much fun. Every day, every smile, and in our case - every memory, is a gift. Thanks for that. I love you."
Below is what's left of my silversmithing career. Sold a lot of it. Pulled these out of a box within a box while packing. Tarnished but intact. From age 16-22 I was jumping between keyboards and tools; saws, grinding and polishing wheels and torches. Thank you Eileen for driving me to the art supply store in Bethesda to buy new tools and silver whenever I got some money from a little gig. I would spend hours at a time working on forging silver and cutting stones in my garage with WHUR on the radio playing Stevie, EWF, Grover and the beginnings of Quiet Storm with Melvin Lindsey.
Word got around during high school - I also looked a bit like Ringo since I wore my work - and the running theme was: a girl would come up to me in the hall with a cool stone or shell she got at the beach that weekend or something and say, "Gregg, can you make a ring out of this"?......Sure I can.
By the way, I was inspired by Ken Krausche, who had his own silversmithing booth in Ocean City, MD at Stone Free, the town's poster/headshop. He was also a cool jazz guitar player and when he invited me to his apartment with a Rhodes Suitcase to jam, that was another bonus crossover for a 17 year old kid. And we also hung with Bob Williamson, a really great guy, piano player who had a killer record collection and we'd listen to Keith Jarrett LP's (Expectations!) while he was working away at his leather shop on the boardwalk. I wonder where they are now....
I went to a bunch of craft fairs and festivals, sold a few things and had my work in a gift shop in Annapolis (Chan Chee). After a few years I had to make a choice. See, I was cutting myself and getting burns and callouses from handling the tools and torch, but I was also playing jazz/pop lounges 4-5 nights a week with East Coast Offering, jingles and writing songs too, so I eventually sold all my tools, stones and silver stock to another crafty person.
Here's a Trip Advisor review of my last visit to Atlanta: “Jazz VIP Fun!!!!” Reviewed June 3, 2018 WoW! Flew to Atlanta to catch Jazz keyboardist Gregg Karukas at Suite Lounge & it was Fabulous!! VIP tickets included any entree, adult beverage, dessert, and the artist's CD. Efficient Valet parking was only $10, bring cash. Service, all food (except collards), venue, & seats were all exceptional!! The house Jazz band accompanying Gregg were phenomenal, they played like they were always together; very professionally talented musicians. Gregg played awesomely, this intimate experience exceeded our expectations and well worth the package value!! We'll be back for more fun times and food.
Fall Tour Dates
Sept 14 Seal Beach, CA Spaghettini 5:30 and 8pm shows
Sept 19-21 London, UK Pizza Express Soho
Sept 26-27 - Philadelphia, PA South GK w/ Brad Collins, Scott Ambush (Spyro Gyra), Stanley Cooper and Deren Blessman Sept 28 Annapolis, MD Ramshead On Stage w/ Brad Collins, Scott Ambush (Spyro Gyra), Stanley Cooper and Deren Blessman
Oct 2 Boca Raton, FL The Funky Biscuit
Oct 3 Atlanta, GA Suite Lounge
Oct 4 Boston, MA Scullers w/ Brad Collins, Scott Ambush (Spyro Gyra), Stanley Cooper and Deren Blessman
Oct 5 Durham, NC Vrroom VIP Jazz Fest.
Oct 6 - Richmond, VA The Tin Pan GK w/ Brad Collins, Scott Ambush (Spyro Gyra), Stanley Cooper and Deren Blessman
Oct 19 Avalon, CA Jazztrax Catalina Festival **
Nov 30 San Diego, CA Adam Hawley Christmas Benefit with GK, Jackiem Joyner and Erin Stevenson-Titus
**(Gregg guests with Rick Braun)
www.karukas.com (exclusive autographed CD's and other goodies) www.cdbaby.com i-Tunes