Greg C. Brown
Greg has been playing the guitar for over 40 years. During that time has has played, rock, metal, jazz, hip hop, reggae, blues, classical and flamenco music. He has recorded over 20 CDs either solo, as a guest artist or with his metal band Age of Fire. Mr. Brown has also published over 20 books of sheet music in a variety of classical ensembles or solo guitar. Greg's music can be heard in film, TV, and video games. His music can be downloaded and streamed on most major platforms.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
My family used to go the see the Nutcracker ballet every winter. It was spellbinding, the whole production, full orchestra and dancers all working together to create this amazing show. Also, when I was growing up in the late 70s. John Williams was writing these amazing scores, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Jaws, and so many others. I remember thinking, how do you do that? But it was AC/DC's album Back in Black that made me want to play the guitar. The guitar has been the gateway to all my musical adventures be it classical, metal, blues, flamenco or jazz.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
So many leap to mind. I was doing this classical gig one night and the power went out. A couple emergency lights eventually came on but I just kept playing and playing. People in the audience said it was very calming during what would have been a stressful situation. Frankly I didn't know what else to do :) I don't know why but when I was learning the guitar I would sometimes practice in the dark to get myself more confident not looking at the neck of the guitar. I guess it paid off that night.
What has been the high point of your music path?
I'm hoping that is still yet to come but I'd say performing in so many countries and meeting such wonderful people along the way. For the most part I play my own music and having it be well received has been such a dream come true. Social media has also been great to have such direct communication with my listeners in real time.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
Each song is a bit different. I usually write on the guitar but recently I've been getting away from that. I might start singing a line and write it out then harmonize. Trying to write in less traditional keys. I've also been taking a different approach to harmony as well. Things you might not have heard before in my catalog.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
With social media, the biggest challenge for an Indie artist today is cutting through that noise so people get to hear your music. I've ben using a few PR companies to help. I'm very grateful for the response in my streaming numbers but when you have Spotify paying 1/3 of a cent per stream you can't really make a living off of that. Performing live has always been the backbone of an artists income, you gotta take it to the people, which has been harder during Covid. I heard an artist once say that people listening to your streamed music is like giving them your business card.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
Probably my favorite artist out there right now is the incredible ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro. I've seen him play a few times and met him as well. He has really kicked open the door for what can be done on the uke. His shows are quite unique and sometimes unexpected. He crosses many genres and plays so beautifully.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Most of my gigs are solo classical guitar so my rehearsals are mostly practicing at home, writing a set, trying to make sure the program flows. I try to mix it up between some of my older tunes and newer ones. During the pandemic, I did a streaming concert and really reached into the vault and worked up some songs I haven't played in many many years. It was like visiting old friends. In preparation, I also try to record myself as much as possible. It is a great way to critique your playing more subjectively. I had an old teacher once who always said to record yourself, "tape doesn't lie".
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
That might be my work for classical guitar and orchestra entitled "Alpha Centuari". I wrote two previous works for orchestra but I really wanted to push myself. I studied many composer's works more in detail. It is also a tone poem about a journey to our nearest star system. I was feeling more comfortable in that medium and really experimented more for color, and balance between the guitar and orchestra which is a challenge. I treated the guitar as both a soloist and as part of the orchestra. I recently revised it and hoping to have current version performed soon. It's one of my favorite works I've ever written.
What's coming up in the future?
During the pandemic I decided to get my Masters in Music Composition from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, I graduate August 2022. As part of that program, I've written a piece for the Chatham Baroque trio which will premiere in February. I've also been asked to write a string trio piece which I hope to have finished by Summer and a piece for the Charlottesville Municipal Band's Centennial celebration premiering 2022. I'm putting the finishing touches on a large orchestral work as well. Also, I'm writing sketches for another solo classical guitar CD and my metal band "Age of Fire" is working on a new EP entitled "Through the Tempest" which we are hoping to have done by April. Very grateful to be so busy.
Tell us where fans can access your music?
My music is available for streaming and download on most platforms. Here are links to my personal and Age of Fire's Bandcamp pages: