Primary Instrument: Guitar
A world class guitar hero, a Grammy-nominated songwriter, an international recording artist with over a dozen acclaimed solo albums to date, and a soundtrack composer for film and television, Gary Lucas is on the move in 2006.
Dubbed the legendary leftfield guitarist by The Guardian, Guitarist of 1000 Ideas by The New York Times, a true axe God by Melody Maker and the thinking man's guitar hero by The New Yorker, the British world music magazine fRoots recently hailed Gary Lucas as without question, the most innovative and challenging guitarist playing today. Rolling Stone’s David Fricke just wrote: Gary Lucas is one of the best and most original guitarists in America in a rave review of Gary’s new album Coming Clean. Gary was also cited recently by the editors of DownBeat Magazine as one of their “Hot 66 6-Stringers” alongside John McLaughlin, Richard Thompson, B.B King, Pat Metheny, and other greats.
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 great singer Jeff Buckley. Gary co-wrote two of Jeff Buckley's most famous hits, Grace and Mojo Pin, from his million-selling album Grace (which MOJO just named as their #1 Modern Classic Album in their March 2006 issue). Gary and Jeff's early collaborations can also be heard on the recent Jeff Buckley and Gary Lucas album Songs To No One, which charted internationally with worldwide sales approaching 100,000. Other notable recent Gary Lucas releases include The Edge of Heaven, an album of Gary's lush arrangements of classic Chinese pop tunes from the 1930s, which received international raves everywhere from Rolling Stone to the Wall Street Journal to the Hong Kong Music Weekly. Gary also recently released a compilation of the best of his early band and solo work entitled Operators Are Standing By, which garnered a 4-star Mojo review which stated: This album confirms Gary Lucas as THE psychedelic guitarist for the post-modern set.
Gary’s main focus at present is leading his longtime NYC-based group Gary Lucas & Gods and Monsters -- a psychedelic rock band based around his guitar playing, singing, and songwriting.
Hailed as a 21st century Cream by Rolling Stone, the band features Gary Lucas on guitars and vocals with Ernie Brooks (Modern Lovers) on bass, Billy Ficca (Television) on drums, and Jason Candler (Hungry March Band) on alto sax. With their illustrious pedigrees, they comprise an avant-punk super group. Time Out New York recently wrote: The group is mindblowing! The New Yorker called them An underground-rock fan's dream team. Gary Lucas & Gods and Monsters recently completed a tour of Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Russia in the company of former Talking Heads keyboardist and hit producer Jerry Harrison, who is now playing regularly in Gods and Monsters and is currently producing their next album. He recently sat in with the band at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC for the CMJ Festival, a show which was taped for a live DVD and CD to be released in the spring of 2007, and also played with them at New York's Knitting Factory, where the group was greeted backstage by former Czech President Vaclav Havel and David Byrne.
Coming Clean, the most recent Gary Lucas & Gods and Monsters album was released in Russia last summer by Exotica Music under the title Follow, and revamped and remixed has just now been released on the indie label Mighty Quinn for the USA, Canada, and Japan, and in slightly different versions in the UK through Side Salad/Universal, and in France through Productions Speciales. It will be released in the Benelux in April 2007 through DAWA Music. The album features mixes by Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads) and Harold Burgon and vocal contributions from David Johansen (New York Dolls), sultry French superstar Elli Medeiros, Richard Barone (Bongos), and others. The reviews for Coming Clean have been 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 to date has also received 4 star reviews in MOJO, Uncut, Record Collector, and France's Crossroads.
Gary Lucas & Gods and Monsters recently contributed a cover of Bruce Springsteen's Ain't Got You to Light of Day, a Bruce Springsteen tribute album for charity, and Bruce himself has hailed Gary as a phenomenal guitarist. Ain't Got You is also on Coming Clean and was just added in regular rotation on Sirius Satellite Radio's Disorder Channel 24.
Gary co-leads a jazz-oriented, all instrumental Beefheart tribute ensemble, Fast 'N' Bulbous, who made triumphant appearances at the Frankfurt Jazz Festival and the Jazz Em Agosto Festival in Lisbon this year. Their debut album Pork Chop Blue Around the Rind has received much favorable praise worldwide, was profiled on NPR, and charted on college radio in the US. They just returned from an extensive European tour in November where they sold out their shows at the London Jazz Festival and in Amsterdam’s BimHuis, as well as playing in Bern, Vienna, Schwaz, and Ljubljana, Slovenia.
In addition, Gary played in the reunion of Captain Beefheart alumni known as The Magic Band, performing with them at the UK's famed Glastonbury Festival, at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire, at a sold-out Royal Festival Hall show, and at the All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival in LA and Camber Sands UK. They made several extensive UK and European tours, and released a rehearsal CD and a live double album and live DVD with narration by the late John Peel.
Gary Lucas established his reputation as a guitarist's guitarist with 5 years spent playing with his childhood hero, the visionary vocalist/composer/bandleader Captain Beefheart (alias 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 80s 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 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 the Berlin Morgenpost raved in a banner headline after his performance, It is Lucas!
To date Gary has performed in 35 countries around the world, from Tokyo to Trieste to Tel Aviv. He recently made his Australian debut in the company of UK electronica band Future Sound of London, and has been a regular visitor to London's Royal Festival Hall (5 separate appearances) and Amsterdam's famed Paradiso (17 separate appearances since 1980).
He recently brought Gods and Monsters over to Russia this spring for his fifth tour in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, in the company of the legendary Talking Head Jerry Harrison on keyboards. This followed on the heels of his fourth tour of Russia last summer, where he performed his original solo guitar score accompanying the silent classic German horror film The Golem (1920) in Moscow and Saint Petersburg and appeared on national tv before an estimated 50 million viewers, as well as being feted in the Russian edition of Rolling Stone. He’s played with The Golem all over the world as well since debuting his live score in 1989 at the BAM Next Wave Festival -- including performing at the Venice Biennale, London's Royal Festival Hall, the New York Jewish Film Festival at Lincoln Center, as part of a weeklong artist-in-residency at the Quebec City Summer Festival, at the Alien artist HR Giger's Retrospective in Prague (home of the Golem) this spring, as well as at Atlanta's Dragon*Con, the largest science fiction festival in the world.
Gary has played and collaborated with Leonard Bernstein, Captain Beefheart, Jeff Buckley, Lou Reed, John Cale, Nick Cave, David Johansen, jazz greats Roswell Rudd, Steve Swallow, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, the Willem Breuker Kollektieff, and Billy Bang; Mary Margaret O'Hara, John Zorn, Peter Stampfel, Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye, Claudia Brucken (Propaganda), Paul Humphreys (OMD), Future Sound of London, Joan Osborne (Gary co-wrote her Grammy-nominated song Spider Web from her triple platinum album Relish), Matthew Sweet, Iggy Pop, Van Dyke Parks, Adrian Sherwood, Bryan Ferry, Eric Mingus, Richard Barone, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Bob Neuwirth, Geoff Muldaur, John Sebastian, Allen Ginsberg, DJ Spooky, Damo Suzuki, Dr. John, Graham Parker, Bob Weir, David Krakauer, Frank London, Fred Schneider (B-52s), Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers, Govt. Mule) and many others. Some of these collaborations can be heard on his recent 20-year rarities retrospective album Improve the Shining Hour which also features his film and TV music for ABC News (he has scored documentaries for the shows 20/20 and Turning Point). He's also produced albums for downtown composer/saxophonists Tim Berne and Peter Gordon, and for the French avant-rock band Tanger. He recently scored the Oscar-nominated Maysles Films documentary Lalee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton for HBO, which 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.
Gary's recent album release, The Edge of Heaven, a dreamy melodic tribute to Chinese pop music of the 1930s, was #1 on the World Music Charts in Canada 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 also received 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 raves go hand in hand with Gary's international press standing: in the last few years Gary has been profiled in the International Herald Tribune, the French daily paper Liberation, and featured on the cover of the Jewish Forward as well as the national Dutch newspaper Het Parool.
Recent concert 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 also made an extensive solo acoustic tour of Spain last year, which generated large audiences and raves in the national press there. Gary has also lectured on his life and career, mechanics of songwriting, extensive collaborations, and the music business, at the Amsterdam Music Conservatorium, Yale University (his alma mater), the University of Hawaii, New York University, and Columbia University. He also has given guitar master classes at the Amsterdam Music Conservatorium and in Honolulu at the University of Hawaii.
Recent soundtrack work includes an original score for Trust Me, a Showtime documentary about a summer camp for Christian, Muslim and Jewish children, and a score for the award-winning documentary Bed and Breakfast 9/11, which was shown on PBS in September. He also scored the new documentary by Slawomir Grunberg The Legacy of Jedwabne which is playing the international documentary film circuit. Last year Gary released his second album with Dutch lutist Jozef Van Wissem, The Universe of Absence, and the pair recently performed live on Dutch national tv network VPRO show Free Sounds. He is also working with the female UK based DJ Cosmo on a new dance-oriented project called Wild Rumpus, a track from which has been previewed already on the BBC. Gary has also been performing DJ improv sets with Cosmo in a variety of exotic locales this year, including high profile gigs in Romania and India.
Mr. Lucas makes his home in New York City.