Review of Greg Greenway - Something Worth Doing
written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Roberta B. Schwartz (email@example.com)
Greg Greenway is one of those artists who is so rich a talent that it is difficult to categorize him. He traverses, combines and mixes up musical genres, and manages to open a window on global events that bring us together as citizens of the world. Like other great performers before him, Greenway’s message is that we can all play a part and make a difference in the course of both our private and public lives. But few musicians can do just this with such style, passion and sheer musicality.
On that note, it is more than appropriate that Greenway opens his new recording, Something Worth Doing, with the uplifting In the Name of Love/Pride, a truly stunning and artful combination of a Greenway original, In the Name of Love, with U2’s Pride. It’s a celebration of those brave giants, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ghandi who dedicated their lives to the cause of peace.
Going to hear Greg Greenway live is something like attending a religious revival. Firstly, you get caught up in Greenway’s passion for living, and for the big questions and issues he cares about. But those of us in the audience can’t help but join in with this dynamic performer with the supple, melodic tenor and energetic stage presence, which is difficult to capture on record. I think “Every Little Day” is one of those Greenway songs that translates well on disc. Although he addresses the closing of a life, the death of a friend, and the beginning of life in the birth of another, this anthem celebrates life and the journey it takes us on, from beginning to end. The assembled chorus includes Greenway regulars Patty Barkas and Ginny Fordham, as well as favorites like Stephanie Corby, Colleen Sexton and Tom Prasada-Rao. This would be a great band to take on the road.
Greenway knows how to be passionate, but he also knows how to be quiet and draw you in as well. You Don’t Travel Like I Do is a beautiful telling of what it’s like to be far from home and away from those you love. Greenway’s expressive tenor is particularly good here.
Passion Dance gives Greenway a chance to shine on guitar as it opens with a lovely instrumental passage. Rhythmic with an elegant melody and powerful vocals, it is quintessential Greg Greenway.
Great melody, great voice, great guitar - what more could you want in a song? Every artist needs a train song and Runaway Train is a solid addition to this genre. It makes you want to jump on that train and follow it across the country.
Midnight in Khartoum is a wonderful instrumental, which brings to mind the walk of camels across the African desert. Greg Greenway on guitar, Lisa Brown on drums and Bruce Abbott on sax bring us into the heart of Africa.
The title song, Something Worth Doing, is Greenway’s take on that moment when “you change the I to we/ and something worth doing.” It becomes a dreamy meld of jazz and pop aided by both of Greenway’s notable backup singers and Duncan Watt’s inspired work on the organ.
Greenway closes with a stirring rendition of Phil Ochs’ The Crucifixion.
Greg Greenway is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting performers on the acoustic stage. His passion and dynamism are often difficult to capture on record. Something Worth Doing succeeds in giving us the best of Greenway’s live performances. Its straightforward production values and well-crafted songs allow Greenway’s unique talent to take center stage. And it doesn’t skimp on the passion or the power. Something Worth Doing is a recording that should be in every music lover’s collection. After all, who else but Greenway can place the values we all hold close in every song? He is truly a troubador of the times - a singer with the words, the voice and the passion to move us and inspire us.
Acoustic Guitar: Greg Greenway
Background Vocals: Patty Barkas, Stephanie Corby, Ginny Fordham, Greg Greenway, Kim Harris, Reggie Harris,
Tom Prasada-Rao, Eric Schwartz, & Colleen Sexton.
Bass: Jeff St. Pierre
Drums: John Sands
Organ: Duncan Watt
Percussion: Lisa Brown, Chris Williams, & Greg Greenway
Piano: Duncan Watt, Bob Malone, & Greg Greenway
Sax: Bruce Abbott
Hand claps and finger snaps: Neale Eckstein, Greg Greenway, Laurie Laba, Jeff St. Pierre, & Eric Schwartz
Produced by Greg Greenway & Jeff St. Pierre
Engineered by Jeff St. Pierre & Neale Eckstein
Recorded at Fox Run Studio
Photos by Janet Caliri
CD design by Greg Greenway
Thanks to: all of the musicians listed abover for theri talents and efforts, Jeff St. Pierre for his tremendous work and patience, Neale Eckstein who went far beyond the call and whose tenacity and generosity along with Laurie Laba probably shaped this CD more than anyone else, Jerry Potts and family old and new, Robert Curtis, Diane Housken, Dick & Betsi,, Jeff & Andrea, Bob, Trish, and Emily, Robin, Jeff, Megan, & Bethany. David Roth, Tricia Duffy-Roth, TPR, Sonny Ochs, Karen D’Arcy for her years of friendship and support, Jean Greenway (the mom of all moms), and to my beautiful wife, Audrey. And to all of you.
Notes on the Songs
In the Name of Love (CGDGCD): Some songs you walk into in the course of living your life. They possess you-- you feel compelled to write them. Such was the case with this song when I visited the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis,Tennessee.l went to the museum on the advice of my esteemed friend and favorite musician, Tom Prasada-Rao, who had been, as we discovered later, at the end of a long chain of friends who had visited the site. So a group of songwriters and music lovers, Tom, David Roth, Pat Humphries, David Broida, and I, hopped on the trolley that runs down the main street of Memphis, got off and discovered that we were standing in front of the Lorraine Motel, the actual site of the April 4th, 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. I had to completely recalibrate myself. I was not prepared for what I was about to experience. I mark that day as one of the most moving in my life. Whoever designed the museum did a brilliant thing, they made the museum to human scale. You literally walk into the beginnings of the movement, and ultimately into the afternoon of April 4th, 1968. You sense a scale of human greatness, of tragedy, of unceasing courage. That night at our showcase, Tom, Chris Williams, and I sang the Irish rock band, U2’s Pride, to a crowd of people in which many had had the same xperience that day. If ever a room lifted up off the ground, it was that night. And I determined at that moment to write a song around that song, so that I could retell the story every night I play. So, what you hear on this CD was sung and experienced by many of those who were there in Memphis, or who helped the song grow up soon thereafter. This was done with great intention in order for me, selfishly, to have those voices as my own record of that day. Hopefully, this will inspire people to visit the Museum continuing the ripples that began a long time ago, that are spread every day by the museum, and by those who are forever changed by going there. A portion of every sale of this CD will benefit the museum. National Civil Rights Museum, 450 Mulberry St., in the Lorraine Motel, Memphis, TN. (901) 521-9699, www.civilrightsmuseum.org _
Every Little Day: This was written after seeing, in the space of a few hours, a friend pass away, and a new baby come into the world. Either of those two events are the very definition of life changing. Experienced in the same day, they become etched into your heart forever.
You Don’t Travel Like I Do: A song about suspended adolescence, marriage, and space. Mix in a drive through Montana.
Passion Dance: This is a very old song written in the Berkshires on the way back from CleveIand. The instrumental melody floated in though the car window.
Runaway Train: This is a love song written on tour at a rest area in the Flint Hills of Kansas. There has been great debate over the infinite fields of what waving plant surrounded me that day. With apologies to Hutchinson, Kansas, l’m sticking with wheat.
Midnight in Khartoum: One night my friend and percussionist, Lisa Brown, showed me her newest purchase, an udu. She told me the african myth behind the instrument and played it for me-lt sounded to me like a camel walking. I was undoubtedly influenced l by touring with Tom Prasada-Rao and hearing Rishik Garden a few times, because the resulting
song is at least a cousin of it. Tom assures me that it’s OK, but l’m mentioning him several times in the artist’s notes just in case.
Ready: One afternoon on the water, I realized how entirely happy it made me to see the one I love smiling and light as the air.
Charlotte’s Song: Originally called Lullaby, this was written for the babymentioned in Every Little Day. Actually, it is for her parents who were already in love with her long before she actually arrived.
Something Worth Doing: The title came to me when watching the PBS Jazz series and the rest solidified during a discussion with poet Chris Chandler. Chris referred to a passage in The Grapes of Wrath about the critical moment of changing the I to we. This song fulfilled a dream of arranging vocals with Tom Prasada-Rao(I have to be off the hook by now) and my other favorite musician, Reggie Harris. We listened to our favorite Stevie Wonder songs for two hours before going to sleep, then woke up and created what you hear here.
The Crucifixion: I was introduced to the music of Phil Ochs through Phil’s sister, Sonny. She invited me to participate in a Phil Ochs Song Night. I first heard David MassengilI’s version of The Cruciiixion and fell in love with it immediately. So I basically begged Sonny to let me play it. She finally relented and then immediately began lobbying to get me to record it. I resisted for a long time because before this CD, I’d never recorded someone else’s song. But it finally dawned on me that it would make the perfect bookend for In the Name of Love (and that Sonny never rests). Phil wrote this song after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, foreshadowing those of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. It is about the mystical process of how the world creates and destroys heroes. Phil actually sang this a capella to Robert Kennedy in an airplane with tears forming when Robert realized what had inspired the song. I consider it a privilege to perform the song.
Although it is long, it’s well worth the trip.