Gary Lucas in Havana 12/14/12
Gary Lucas performs "The Music of Jeff Buckley and Gary Lucas" at the Paradiso Amsterdam with the 60-piece Metropole Orchestra 9/4/12
photo by Sjaniek Schaap
Gary right before performing "The Golem" at the 5th Jecheon International Music and Film Festival 8/14/09
Gary Lucas, St. Petersburg underground, April 2006
Photo by Bram Belloni
Photo by Howard Thompson
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A world class guitar hero, a Grammy nominated songwriter and composer, an international recording artist with over 20 acclaimed solo albums to date, and a soundtrack composer for film and television, GARY LUCAS is on the move in 2013.
In Jan. 2012 alone Gary performed his Spanish "Dracula" project at Bilbao's annual Musiketan Festival; sold-out two nights of his Captain Beefheart Symposium at Liverpool's Royal Philharmonic Hall; recorded numerous tracks with Bryan Ferry at Olympia Studios in London; and appeared on the cover of two national Portuguese national newspapers in support of his solo performing debut in Lisboa and Porto. He performed his Coffin Joe live music and film project twice at SXSW after successfully playing the US premiere at the Lincoln Center LatinBeat Film festival, and returned to NYC to make high profile solo appearances at Le Poisson Rouge and Joe's Pub, also headlining a tribute to avant-garde legends The Shaggs at The Bellhouse in Brooklyn where he returned in June to perform with his longtime supergroup Gods and Monsters. In July Gary performed live before an estimated viewing audience of 400 million on CNBC in a segment devoted to Gibson Guitars, sold out the Silent Movie Theater in LA with his live score accompanying "The Golem", and was interviewed later that summer on the national French ARTE Channel for the documentary "Rock Attitude". In August, Gary traveled to Germany for his second appearance at the annual Zappanale, this time with his reunited Beefheart tribute band Fast 'N' Bulbous, and also made his performing debut solo in Sardinia at the Santa Arresi Jazz Festival, and then went to Amsterdam for a sold-out show at the legendary Paradiso entitled "The Music of Jeff Buckley and Gary Lucas", featuring the 60 piece Metropole Orchestra, Italian vocalist Alessio Franchini and several Dutch singers. This coincided with the publication in September of Gary's first book "Touched by Grace—La Mia Musica con Jeff Buckley" by well known Italian music book publisher Arcana, which received rave reviews in the Italian press and which Gary supported with several Italian in store appearances and concerts, including Feltrinelli in Trieste, the FNAC Megastore in Milano, and the Madame Guitar Festival in Tricesimo (Gary's third appearance there). Later in the month Gary appeared at the Toronto Film Festival in support of the new film about Jeff Buckley's early days in NYC, "Greetings from Tim Buckley", starring Penn Badgley and featuring Tony-award winner Frank Wood as Gary. The film received outstanding reviews and will be released worldwide in cinemas in spring 2013. In October, Gary did a 3-1/2 hour interactive Facebook interview with Roch Parisien. He also performed a stellar night with the Les Paul Trio and singer Jann Klose in NYC's Iridium Jazz Club. Later that fall Gary traveled to Paris where he performed a masterclass and a concert with French guitarist David Konopnicki and his band at the Henri Dutilleux Music Conservatoire; created two signature TonePrints for TC Electronics of Denmark which will be available free for download by guitarists worldwide in spring 2013; and performed at legendary Paris bookstore Shakespeare and Co. He then performed a week of shows in the Czech Republic, headlining Prague's Alternativa Festival solo, appearing live for 3 hours of interviews and performance on national Beat Radio, performing in Jablonec Bohemia with his "Monsters from the Id" music and film project; and finished out the year with a trip to Havana—his fifth appearance there—where he performed three nights at the Gaia Arts Center in a tribute to Michelangelo Antonioni on the occasion of his 100th anniversary; performed live on national Radio Havana and Radio Taino; and was interviewed and filmed performing live by national Austrian television ORF for a program which will air in 2013. Gary starts the year with a bang headlining the famed Paradiso in Amsterdam Feb. 17th with "The World of Captain Beefheart", a gala concert featuring the 60 piece Metropole Orchestra and legendary Nona Hendryx. The show will go out live on producer Co de Kloet's national Dutch Radio 6 program "Co Live"—listen here—and will be filmed for broadcast later this year. In 2012 Gary was profiled in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune to coincide with the release of his supergroup Gods and Monsters' new studio album "The Ordeal of Civility" (Knitting Factory), produced by Jerry Harrison which is receiving rave reviews—4 Stars in MOJO and named one of the Best of the Year in Rock's Backpages. He released a vinyl only album in the Czech Republic "Gary Lucas Plays Bohemian Classics" (Faust Records) featuring his solo acoustic arrangements of Dvorak and other Czech classical composers. That year Gary performed at the Grammy Museum in LA as part of their "Great Guitar" Series which further bolstered his credentials as "one of the best and most original guitarists in America" (Rolling Stone). Gary just wrapped recording the debut album of his psychedelic dance music project Wild Rumpus with his partner Colleen "Cosmo" Murphy a/k/a DJ Cosmo, and their latest 12 inch vinyl single "Cloudhopping" sold out its first pressing in one week. He recently premiered his new live solo guitar score for Luis Bunuel's "El Angel Exterminador" at the 33rd Havana Film Festival and rocked the 48th New York Film Festival with the US premiere of his Spanish "Dracula" project performing his original solo guitar score live to accompany a screening of the legendary 1931 film. In the last few years, Gary Lucas made successful performing debuts in China, Cuba, the Canary Islands, Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica and Mexico alongside his usual non-stop touring in Europe and North America, and is coming to BAM's new Fisher Space in Brooklyn in Oct. 2013 for two nights with the expanded concert version of his celebrated album of 30's Chinese pop, "The Edge of Heaven". Featuring Gary, his band, and two female vocalists from Shanghai, the project received standing ovations in June 2011 at both the 64th Holland Festival in Amsterdam and the Nijmegen MusicMeeting. His recent album, "Rishte" (Harmonia Mundi), a blues/raga collaboration with Indian vocalist Najma Akhtar, made #4 on the World Music Charts Europe and the pair garnered a 5 star review in The Financial Times for their live show and an ovation at WOMAD Los Palmas. He released his first ever coloured vinyl single "Music for the Eden Project" on 5nakefork Records last year to acclaim which has been used as the soundtrack for UK visual artist Paul McGowan's installation at the Eden Project in Cornwall. Dubbed "The Thinking Man's Guitar Hero" by The New Yorker, "The world's most popular avant-rock guitarist" by The Independent (UK), "One of the 100 Greatest Living Guitarists" (Classic Rock), "Legendary Leftfield guitarist" by The Guardian (UK), "Guitarist of 1000 Ideas" by The New York Times, "a true axe God" by Melody Maker, and "One of the five best guitarists in the world" by the national Czech newspaper Lidove Noviny, the British world music magazine fRoots recently described Gary Lucas as "without question, the most innovative and challenging guitarist playing today." Rolling Stone's David Fricke wrote: "Gary Lucas is one of the best and most original guitarists in America...a modern guitar miracle." Best-selling author/producer Dan Levitin ("This Is Your Brain On Music") recently cited Gary as "the greatest living electric guitarist". Gary was also dubbed "one of the world's greatest guitar players" by HITS Magazine. Gary Lucas tours the world relentlessly both solo and with several different ensembles, including his longtime band Gods and Monsters, whose ranks once included the late singer Jeff Buckley. Gary co-wrote two of Jeff Buckley's most famous hits, "Grace" and "Mojo Pin", which opened Jeff's double platinum Sony album "Grace", which MOJO magazine named the #1 Modern Classic Rock Album. Their early collaborations can also be heard on the Jeff Buckley and Gary Lucas album "Songs to No One", which charted internationally with worldwide sales approaching 100,000. Other notable Lucas albums include his recently reissued 2001 album "The Edge of Heaven", an album of Gary's lush arrangements of 30's Chinese pop songs, which made #1 on the World Music charts and received rave reviews around the world. To date he has released over 20 acclaimed albums in multiple genres, and performed in over 40 countries. Gary Lucas leads several different ensembles, including his longtime NYC-based band Gods and Monsters, a super-group psychedelic jam band based around Gary's guitar playing, singing, and Grammy-nominated songwriting, featuring Billy Ficca (Television) on drums, Ernie Brooks (Modern Lovers) on bass, Jason Candler (Hungry March Band) on alto sax and Joe Hendel on trombone and keyboards. With their illustrious pedigrees they comprise an art-rock supergroup comprising a major cross-section of the rock avant-garde (Beefheart, Buckley, Television, Modern Lovers)—Time Out New York raving "The group is mind-blowing!" and The New Yorker hailing them as "An underground-rock fan's dream team". Gods and Monsters have toured extensively in Europe over the years, most recently at festivals in the Austrian Tirol, in the Netherlands, and in Moscow and Saint Petersburg Russia in the company of former Talking Heads keyboardist and hit record producer Jerry Harrison (Live, OAR), who produced their latest studio album. Harrison joined the band live at South by Southwest in Austin Texas where Gary Lucas was given an unheard of double-length showcase for both his silent film/live music project "Gary Lucas Plays The Golem" and for Gods and Monsters, which garnered significant press attention—and Harrison played with them live in NYC at the CMJ Festival and also joined them at New York's Knitting Factory for a concert with Czech underground band The Plastic People, where the group was greeted backstage by former Czech President Vaclav Havel and David Byrne. Gods and Monsters recently celebrated their 20th anniversary in June 2009 with an all-star concert at the Gramercy Theater in NYC, produced by Live Nation and featuring guest appearances from Gary's friends Alan Vega (Suicide), Jon Spencer (Blues Explosion) and Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith). "Coming Clean", Gary's previous Gods and Monsters album was released in 4 different international editions: in Russia under the title "Follow"; in the USA, Canada, and Japan; in the UK and France; and in the Benelux. The reviews were uniformly excellent, with Rolling Stone raving: "Gary Lucas is one of the best and most original guitarists in America...a songwriter of established invention...he plays astounding guitar throughout, but always for the sake of the song." The album received 4 star reviews in MOJO, Uncut, and Record Collector, and also in France's Crossroads and Vibrations. One of the standout tracks on "Coming Clean" was Gary's song "Follow", an anthem he wrote to comfort the victims of AIDS, which was performed in 2007 at a rally in the gay club Crobar in Manhattan attacking the Bush administration's proposed anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment. The song was introduced and sung by Gary's friend comedienne Sandra Bernhard, who performed with Gary on guitar. In additional to raves from music critics, Gary's work and guitar playing has received praise from his musical peers. He contributed a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Ain't Got You" to "Light of Day", a Bruce Springsteen tribute album for charity, which prompted the Boss himself to remark after hearing Lucas perform at the famous Stone Pony in Asbury Park: "You're a phenomenal guitarist—and your version of my song was phenomenal!!." Gary also recently received high compliments from Lou Reed, who told him regarding his collaborations with Jeff Buckley, "You're guitar playing was lovely—just lovely!" and described Gary's solo version of his song "European Son" as "Beyond cool! I could listen to you play for hours, Gary". The highest praise though for Gary came from his original musical mentor and hero Leonard Bernstein, who after hearing Lucas play lead guitar in the European premiere of his "Mass" in Vienna 1973 with the Yale Symphony Orchestra enthusiastically remarked, "You were really wailing!" In addition to Gods and Monsters, Gary co-leads with composer/musician Phillip Johnston the free jazz all instrumental 7-piece ensemble Fast 'N' Bulbous, dedicated to the music of his mentor Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) and featuring some of NYC's greatest improvisers. Applying a free-wheeling horn and guitar-driven approach to the knotty avant-blues/rock/jazz compositions of Van Vliet, they've made triumphant appearances at the Saalfelden Festival in Austria, the Frankfurt Jazz Festival, and the Lisbon Jazz Em Agosto Festival. Their debut album "Pork Chop Blue Around the Rind" received much favorable praise worldwide, was profiled on NPR, and charted on college radio in the US. An extensive European tour which followed saw them selling out shows at the London Jazz Festival and at Amsterdam's BimHuis, as well as concerts in Bern, Vienna, Schwaz, and Llubljana Slovenia. In 2009 the band released their second Cuneiform album "Waxed Oop (An impetuous stream bubbled up)" which received rave reviews internationally. Gary also played for several years as part of the reunion of Captain Beefheart alumni known as The Magic Band, performing with them at the UK's famed Glastonbury Festival, London's Shepherd's Bush Empire, a sold-out night at Royal Festival Hall, and at the All Tomorrow's Parties Festival in LA where they were introduced by Beefheart/Magic Band fan Matt Groening (The Simpsons), and in Camber Sands UK. They made several extensive UK and European tours, which took them to Amsterdam's Paradiso, Belgrade Serbia, and to Sweden, where they performed live on Swedish national television. They released a rehearsal CD "Back to the Front", cited as one of the albums of the year in The Wire, a live double album "21st Century Mirror Men", and a live DVD/documentary, "Crow's Milk" with narration by the late John Peel, one of Beefheart's biggest champions. In fact, the legendary UK underground tastemaking DJ John Peel became one of Gary Lucas' biggest champions shortly after The Magic Band recorded a live session for him, subsequently spinning several cuts from Gary Lucas' solo albums on his widely listened-to program on the BBC on 2 separate broadcasts shortly before he died. Other long running media champions of Gary's work on UK radio include the late legendary world music maven, producer and author Charlie Gillett, who invited Gary to perform live on his 20th anniversary show in 2006. Verity Sharp and Fiona Talkington also have featured Gary's work on their BBC 3 programme Late Junction, as has club music DJ king Rob Da Bank, who has repeatedly added the avant-dance music of Wild Rumpus, Gary's DJ project with DJ Cosmo, to his popular BBC radio program. GARY LUCAS established his reputation as a guitarist's guitarist with 5 years spent playing with his childhood hero, the visionary avant-garde vocalist/composer/bandleader Captain Beefheart (a/k/a Don Van Vliet). A graduate of Yale University, where he was a DJ and served as Music Director at WYBC FM, Gary's childhood dream of joining Beefheart's band came true when he recorded two Captain Beefheart albums in the early 80's on Virgin Records, "Doc at the Radar Station" (1980) and "Ice Cream for Crow" (1982), which featured his explosive solo renditions of Don Van Vliet's twisted instrumental compositions, "Flavor Bud Living" and "Evening Bell"—about which the latter piece Esquire wrote "Gary Lucas apparently grew extra fingers in order to negotiate his way through it". These recordings put Gary on the musical map as a force to be reckoned with, and laid the groundwork for his subsequent career. In 1988, Gary Lucas mounted his first solo guitar show at New York's downtown mecca for avant-garde and alternative music, the Knitting Factory, and was an instant hit. The club became the launching pad for Gary's ensuing European success, as he was invited shortly after his first Knitting Factory gig to appear at the prestigious 1988 Berlin JazzFest, where a performance of his solo piece "Verklarte Kristallnacht" was broadcast live from the festival on WDR on the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht and absolutely stunned the audience. The Berlin Morgenpost raved in a review the next day: "It is Lucas!" To date Gary Lucas has released over 20 highly acclaimed albums in various different genres (psychedelic rock, solo acoustic, world music, electronic dance, rock-jazz, classical, ambient), played as a guest on over 50 other albums, and has performed in 40 countries around the world—from Tokyo to Tangier to Tel Aviv. In summer 2009 Gary made well received debuts in Latin America (closing the 1st International Sao Paulo Fantasy Film Festival SP Terror accompanying the silent horror film "The Golem" and performing and recording in Bogota Colombia with legendary Stones producer Andrew Loog Oldham and in South Korea, appearing at the 5th Jecheon International Film and Music Festival with "The Golem". He has performed in India with DJ Cosmo in their Wild Rumpus project, and made his Australian debut in the company of UK electronica band Future Sound of London. He returned recently for 4 triumphant shows with "The Golem" at festivals in Sydney and Melbourne. He has been a regular visitor to London's Royal Festival Hall (6 separate appearances) and Amsterdam's famed Paradiso (over 20 separate appearances since 1980). He's expanded his touring base to Russia with 5 separate appearances in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. In summer 2006 he performed his original solo guitar score accompanying the silent classic German horror film "The Golem" (1920, d. Paul Wegener and Carl Boese) in landmark cinemas in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, appeared on national tv before an estimated 50 million viewers, and was profiled in the Russian edition of Rolling Stone. Much of Gary's music has a ghostly haunted feel to it, particularly his film scores and famous songs such as "Grace"—and stems from a childhood love of fantasy, science fiction and horror films. And of course his band is named Gods and Monsters! His very first scoring assignment was for a documentary entitled "Aquatic Ecology" which was narrated by his childhood hero Rod Serling of "Twilight Zone" fame. Later at Yale he co-founded the long running legendary Things that Go Bump in the Night midnight movie series with his pal Bill Moseley, who went on to become a noted horror film star. Since debuting his live score for "The Golem" (a Kabbalistic tale of a Jewish Frankenstein) in the company of his original collaborator, keyboardist/composer Walter Horn in 1989 at the Museum of the Moving Image on a commission from the BAM Next Wave Festival, he's played with "The Golem" in over 20 countries—including sold-out performances at the Venice Biennale, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, London's Royal Festival Hall, in Budapest, in festivals in Spain, Switzerland and Italy, opening the New York Jewish Film Festival at Lincoln Center, as part of a weeklong artist-in-residency at the Quebec City Summer Festival, and in Prague, home of the Golem. He has also performed with the film at Atlanta's Dragon*Con, the largest science fiction festival in the world. But "The Golem" was only the beginning of Gary's live music and film work. To date he has composed 7 different live music and film solo guitar scores. He debuted 3 of them at the Havana Film Festival beginning in 2009 over 3 consecutive years, starting with perhaps his most popular live solo guitar score to date accompanying the 1931 Spanish-language "Dracula" (d. Henry Melford) which he went on to perform at the 48th New York Film Festival, at the Transylvania Film Festival performing outside of an abandoned castle, at Royal Festival Hall for the London Jazz Festival where his performance received 4 stars in The Guardian, and in Lodz Poland's Cinergia Festival where he received the Golden Boot Award for his score. Following Spanish "Dracula" Lucas debuted his second live score at the Havana Film Festival accompanying the 1966 Brazilian cult horror classic "Esta Noite Encarnerei no teu Cadaver (This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse)" directed by Jose Mojica Marins, who also stars as the legendary horror icon Coffin Joe. Last year in Havana Gary premiered his score for Luis Bunuel's 1962 surrealist classic "El Angel Exterminador" to close what Lucas refers to as his "Dirty Havana Trilogy". Other Lucas live music and film projects include "Sounds of the Surreal", a program commissioned by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, accompanying 3 short silent film classics by Rene Clair, Fernand Leger, and Ladislaw Starewicz, with his original guitar scores—which is frequently double-billed with Lucas' "Monsters from the Id", where Gary improvises live soundtracks to clips from sound horror and fantasy classics by Roman Polanski, Mario Bava, Ray Harryhausen, and others. He recently premiered a new expanded version of this work "Monsters from the Id (Rated X)" in Kromeriz Czech Republic. Gary presented the European premiere of "Sounds of the Surreal" in Vienna in September 2007, and in February 2009 played a triumphant performance before a full house in the Wintergarden of NYC's World Financial Center. He also has composed a live silent film score is for the Lon Chaney film "The Unholy Three" (1925, d. Tod Browning) on commission from the Film Society of Lincoln Center which premiered to rave notices at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater in October 2009. And he co composed for the 2009 Holland Festival a live score for Abel Gance's 1919 "J'Accuse" with Reza Namavar featuring the Ensemble Kameleon which received standing ovations in Amsterdam. Gary Lucas is also working with the UK-based DJ Cosmo (Colleen Murphy) on their dance oriented duo project called Wild Rumpus. Their first single "Musical Blaze-Up" sold out it's 12 inch vinyl run in 2 days upon release in May 2007, was played extensively on the BBC and on European radio, received rave reviews in Time Out London, Time Out New York, and HITS Magazine, and was chosen as one of the Best of the Week by iTunes UK, who made it available for download on a special sampler alongside tracks by Prince, Crowded House and Gwen Stefani. Their second single "Purple Somersault" was similarly well received and sold out its vinyl pressing almost immediately. Gary has been performing one-off sets with Cosmo as Wild Rumpus in a variety of exotic locales, including high profile gigs in Romania and India, and at the London ICA. They made their live NYC debut before a full house at famed New York dance club Cielo. A third single "Rock the Joint" featuring UK Human Beatbox Champion Beardyman entered the UK dance charts on the heels of a hand-animated video by Tabitha O'Connell (Ren and Stimpy) which has had close to 200,000 hits to date. A fourth single "Kazan" was released in Japan in summer 2009, and their new single "Cloud Hopping" sold out its vinyl run in 2 days. Their debut Wild Rumpus album is scheduled for release in 2012. Over a long performing career Gary Lucas has played and collaborated with Leonard Bernstein, Captain Beefheart, Jeff Buckley, Bryan Ferry, Lou Reed, John Cale, Chris Cornell, the Plastic People of the Universe, Robyn Hitchock, Nick Cave, David Johansen, Alan Vega, jazz greats Roswell Rudd, Steve Swallow, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, the Willem Breuker Kollektieff, Beatrice Demi Mondaine, Cheyenne Schiavone, Melissa Mars, Danie Yvinec, Yael Naim and David Donatien, Sussan Deyhim, Institutional Prostitution (Sadaf Ha and Melissa Gagne), Bill Moseley, Frank London, Ninet Tayeb, Anath Benais, Bob Holman, Greg Cohen, Piers Faccini, Ensemble Kameleon, Marc Ribot, Dean Bowman, Jennifer Charles, Lee Ranaldo, Mary Margaret O'Hara, John Zorn, Peter Stampfel, Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye, Jon Spencer, Mike Edison, Kevin Coyne, Riz Maslen, Claudia Brucken (Propaganda), Paul Humphreys (OMD). Future Sound of London, Joan Osborne (Gary co wrote Joan's Grammy nominated song "Spider Web" from her triple platinum album "Relish"), Najma Ahktar, Bernie Worrell, Haydee and Suylen Milanes, Los Van Van, Sexto Sentido, Mo Hai Jin, Sally Kwok, Jerry Harrison, Karsh Kale, Essra Mohawk, Matthew Sweet, Iggy Pop, Van Dyke Parks, Dead Combo, Adrian Sherwood, Boris Grebentchikov, Eric Mingus, Richard Barone, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Bob Neuwirth, Geoff Muldaur, John Sebastian, Allen Ginsberg, Nona Hendryx, DJ Spooky, Damo Suzuki and Michael Karoli (Can), Dr. John, Graham Parker, Bob Weir, David Krakauer, Frank London, Steve Bernstein's Sex Mob, Medeski Martin and Wood, Tanger, Jean Francois Pauvros, Min Xiao Fen, Sonya Cohen, Celest Chong, Jonathan Kane, Jozef Van Wissem, Fred Schneider (B 52s), Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers, Gov't. Mule), Salman Ahmad (Junoon), Dibyarka Chatterjee, DG307, Lou Pallo and the Les Paul Trio, Jamie Saft, Bobby Previte, Richard Mader, Pavel Ryba, Orlando Sanchez "Cubajazz", Danae Blanco, Vrat Brabenec of the Plastic People, Pavel Zajicek of DG307, Alessio Franchini, David Konopnicki and Autoryno, Project Object, The Magic Band (John French, Denny Walley, Rockette Morton and Michael Traylor), Jann Klose, The Metropole Orchestra, Co de Kloet, and many others. Some of these collaborations can be heard on his 20 year rarities retrospective album "Improve the Shining Hour" which also features excerpts of his film and tv music for ABC News. Exhibiting a flair for composing soundtrack music going back to early student films he made as a boy in both the narrative and documentary genres, Gary has gone on to score 8 documentaries for ABC shows "20/20" and "Turning Point", as well as music for Showtime and HBO documentaries. In 2001 Gary scored the Oscar nominated Maysles Films documentary "Lalee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton" for HBO, which recently screened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York as part of their Maysles Films 50 Year Retrospective, and about which Variety wrote: "Gary Lucas' Delta blues guitar music adds vivid color to this report from America's forgotten underbelly." And he's composed music for documentaries shown on Showtime ("Trust Me"), PBS ("Mayor of the West Side", which was nominated for an Emmy), and at international film festivals ("The Legacy of Jedwabne", which was also broadcast internationally). Additionally Gary's services as producer have resulted in several major label albums for composer/saxophonists Tim Berne and Peter Gordon on Columbia Records and Columbia Masterworks retrospectively, as well as for the French avant rock band Tanger (French Mercury). The breadth and scope of Gary Lucas' work is impressive, and he straddles genres with ease. His 2001 entry in the World Music category, "The Edge of Heaven" a dreamy melodic album featuring his arrangements of Chinese pop music of the 1930s, made #1 on the World Music Charts, and garnered an unbelievable amount of international attention, England's Q Magazine awarding it 4 Stars, and MOJO writing: "It is simply gorgeous." In addition, the album was chosen as one of the Best Discs of the year in France's Liberation newspaper. Gary's experiences making the album also was also the subject of a lengthy profile for the album in The Wall Street Journal, as well as an NPR interview. The title song from the album was featured on the soundtrack to the Bill Moyers PBS Series "Becoming American: The Chinese Experience". The album was re released on the Knitting Factory label in 2010 with additional bonus tracks. And last year Gary premiered his expanded concert version for the Holland Festival in Amsterdam featuring two handpicked female vocalists from Shanghai, Sally Kwok and Mo Hai Jin, and his band Gods and Monsters—and received standing ovations two nights in a row. Gary's most recent foray into World Music was a duo album collaboration with the UK Indian based vocalist Najma Akhtar, who has released many solo albums of her own and has collaborated in the past with Page and Plant and Andy Summers. Gary and Najma's album "Rishte", an album fusing folk, blues, raga, rock and more, was released on World Village/Harmonia Mundi worldwide in summer 2009 and continues to receive accolades around the world, including a 5 star review in the Financial Times. The critical raves go hand in hand with Gary's international press standing. In the last few years Gary has been profiled and interviewed in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, DownBeat, the Columbia University Spectator, Record Collector, The Wire, MOJO, the International Herald Tribune, the French daily paper Liberation, featured on the cover of the Jewish Weekly Forward, the national Dutch newspaper Het Parool, and was on the cover this year of two Portuguese national newspapers. Noteworthy live appearances include a specially commissioned concert at the Czech Embassy in Washington DC by invitation of the Czech ambassador to the US spotlighting Gary's solo guitar arrangements of Czech classical music in honor of the 14th anniversary of the Czech Velvet Revolution (Gary is of Bohemian descent on his father's side). Gary has also made several solo tours of Spain, which resulted in many media appearances on national Basque radio and TV, and recently joined forces with the famous Spanish spoken word artist Bruno Galindo which resulted in a sold out appearance in Mexico's Casa de Lago in the fall of 2008 and several very well received shows in NYC fusing Galindo's surrealistic poetry with Gary's ambient guitar. Gary Lucas has also lectured over the years on his life and career in music, his songwriting technique, extensive collaborations, and the music business from the inside, at the Amsterdam Music Conservatorum, Yale University (his alma mater), the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, New York University and Columbia University. He also has given guitar master classes at Amsterdam's Paradiso, the Amsterdam Music Conservatorum, and at the University of Hawaii. In March 2006 he gave a lecture and solo performance at McGill University in Montreal for a course taught by Prof. Sandy Pearlman (Blue Oyster Cult/Clash producer) and Music School Dean Don McLean entitled "Bruckner and Heavy Metal", where Gary performed his "Bruckner Fantasia" based on themes from Bruckner's 8th Symphony, which was filmed and broadcast on CTV, the Canadian national television network. He also recently gave a Master Class and lecture at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, as part of their "Eyes of the Masters" series. Recent soundtrack work includes an original music for Sebastian Doggart's "American Faust: From Condi to Neo-Condi", nominated for the Maysles Award for Best Documentary at the Starz Denver Film Festival. "Trust Me", a Showtime documentary about a summer camp for Christian, Muslim and Jewish children, and a score for award winning Polish film maker Slawomir Grunberg's "They Called Me Mayer July" (2009 documentary) for whom he also scored his searing "Bed and Breakfast 9/11", which was shown on PBS. In addition he scored and is interviewed in Grunberg's "The Legacy of Jedwabne," which is continually playing the international film festival circuit and has been broadcast internationally. He also has contributed music to several BBC documentaries as well as a Canadian Movie of the Week, "Dragon Boys." Gary composed and performed an original score for a documentary about American Ivy League collegiate football, "For Love and Honor" (2008, d. Erik Anjou) as well as a score for the Emmy award winning documentary filmmaker Peter Bull for his latest film "Dirty Business—Clean Coal and the Battle for Our Energy Future", funded and commissioned by the Center for Investigative Research. Other collaborations include several albums with Dutch lutist Jozef Van Wissem, including "The Universe of Absence," and "Diploplia", and the pair toured and performed live on the Dutch national tv network VPRO show "Free Sounds". In addition, Gary recently released a collaborative album with UK electronica ensemble The Dark Poets (James Hunter and Sarah Hilliard) "Beyond the Pale" on the Some Bizarre label. In a review of the album the Independent (UK) wrote: "Gary Lucas is possibly the world's most popular avant rock guitarist." In April 2009 Gary Lucas released a collaborative album with Swiss avant garde guitarist Gerald Zbinden entitled "Down the Rabbit Hole", an epic sound phantasmagoria without words that is racking up impressive reviews internationally. Moors Magazine (Holland) wrote: "Sound so sophisticated and so unusual, they magically transport you without the aid of overdubs. This album is an absolute must!" In Spring 2009 came a collaboration "The Exploding Note Theory" with Italian psych rockers Gallo + The Roosters which was chosen as Album of the Month in Blow Up magazine (Italy). In November 2009 Gary Lucas released on Knitting Factory Records an album of his spiritual roots duo project Chase the Devil with jazz/blues vocalist Dean Bowman (Screaming Headless Torsos, Don Byron). The duo recorded their debut album with Steve Addabo (Shawn Colvin) and embarked on a well received European tour spanning 6 countries in Nov. 2009. The album received 4 stars in DownBeat and a track from the album "Hinay Ma Tov" was Song of the Day on National Public Radio. Chase the Devil made the short-list of Best Blues Album of the Year in DownBeat. Also in the works for a 2012 release is a new album of instrumental versions of classic Rolling Stones hits arranged and performed by Gary in the company of several outstanding Latin American musicians, recorded in Bogota and produced by legendary Stones producer Andrew Loog Oldham. All in all, GARY LUCAS continues to live up the credo of his favorite artist, Bob Dylan—"He not busy being born is busy dying"—by continuing to record, release and perform an astonishing variety of music in as many arenas of the global village as possible. Gary Lucas makes his home in New York City.
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Gary Lucas first started playing guitar at the age of 9 on the advice of his dad ("Gary, how'd you like to play a musical instrument? How about the guitar?"). His first aspiration was to master the theme from "Exodus" which was a big hit at the time for Pat Boone and Ferrante and Teicher. Lessons however lasted only a few months as it became obvious Gary would rather not practice scales and patterns, but not before he nailed his first guitar hero Duane Eddy's statement-of-first-principles "Dance With the Guitar Man" (besides, the cheap rented practice guitar was causing major blisters to erupt). Simultaneously, as a result of scoring a perfect 100 on an elementary school musical aptitude test, Gary, on the advice of the school band director, took up the French horn which he played throughout his elementary, junior high and high school years in various all-city bands and orchestras of the Syracuse school system, before being summarily thrown out of the band for wearing sandals to rehearsals (a nascent beatnik versus an uptight fascist band director). He never was much good on the horn anyway as he barely had enough upper lip for a good embouchure. Anyway, throughout the sixties he was in and out of various "combos" as they were then referred to, and later, "groups" and "bands" of the pickup variety. Gary has fond memories of wading through pools of vomit at Syracuse University frat houses to get paid for some of these gigs (which mainly consisted of playing 30 minute versions of "Inna Gadda Da Vida"). His senior year of high school he got a gig working in the documentary film unit of the Upstate Medical Center and scored and played on his first film assignment, "Aquatic Ecology" (narrated by childhood hero and upstate New York resident Rod Serling). During his sophomore year of college, wherein he was employed as music director of Yale's radio station WYBC FM, he and his buddies made a pilgrimage to New York City to catch the East Coast debut performance of another hero, Captain Beefheart, an event which changed his life. Vowing that if he ever did anything professional in music in the future, it would be to join Beefheart's Magic Band, Gary went on to interview and become fast friends with Beefheart (Don Van Vliet), until after years of hanging around backstage at his gigs, Gary summoned up the courage to reveal that yes, he played guitar and yes, he would love to audition for the Magic Band. It was a few years before that goal would be realized; in the meantime he got a gig playing electric guitar in the European premiere of Leonard Bernstein's Mass in Vienna in 1973, along with the Yale Symphony Orchestra and assorted singers and dancers (broadcast on PBS). A two year sojourn upon graduation to Taipei Taiwan found Gary playing with a mixed group of Chinese, Swedish and Jewish American kids (including his exclusive tee shirt manufacturer, Hank Frisch, on blues harp) called the O-Bay-Gone Band (translation: The Bullshit Band, in Taiwanese), a gig that brought them much local TV exposure. He returned to the States at the end of 1976 and immediately renewed his acquaintance with Captain Beefheart. Upon returning Stateside Gary finally hooked up with Captain Beefheart. When he informed his parents by phone that he intended to leave his day job to concentrate on working with Beefheart, his mother replied, "The guitar?! Murray! He's talking about the guitar again!" He went on to play the solo guitar pieces "Flavour Bud Living" and "Evening Bell" on the Doc at the Radar Station and Ice Cream for Crow albums (Virgin Records), becoming a full-fledged member of the Magic Band for Ice Cream for Crow, which established his reputation as a stunning, accomplished interpreter of the highly idiosyncratic and complex Beefheart oeuvre (Rolling Stone wrote that "Lucas should receive some sort of award for finger contortion" in describing his brilliant execution of the fiendishly difficult "Evening Bell" piece, which took 6 weeks just to learn and memorize by ear). This was the first glowing review in a career marked by incredibly favorable press raves for Gary's guitar playing and later, his own music. After touring Europe with the Magic Band at the beginning of the '80s Beefheart decided to retire from music for a life devoted to painting. Not sure how to continue his playing career after playing in what Lucas regarded as the #1 avant-garde rock band in the world, Gary decided to produce albums for other artists while biding his time to figure out his next playing move, producing two acclaimed albums for CBS Masterworks and Columbia Records by avant-sax players/composers Peter Gordon and Tim Berne respectively. In 1988 Gary finally mounted his own solo guitar show at the mecca of New York new music, the Knitting Factory and was an instant hit. The New York Times raved, "Guitarist of 1000 Ideas" for his show which drew upon the corpus of blues, rock, jazz, folk, classical and electronic music all brought to bear with the intense showmanship which is a hallmark of Lucas' style. Through the use of digital delays Gary was able to produce the sound of a virtual one-man-band, producing orchestral textures and colors that rival an army of players. Through the positive word of mouth that rapidly increased his reputation in New York, Gary was invited to play his solo European debut at the 1988 Berlin Jazz Festival, with the same resulting effect ("It is Lucas!" raved the Berlin Morgenpost). Subsequently he undertook many trips abroad to perform either solo, or with his band Gods and Monsters, at rock, blues, jazz, folk and experimental music festivals, and on the theater and club circuit.