As for the Jeff Pevar Group, did you want to be a front man or is it a
matter of necessity?
JP: I do all kinds of gigs where I front the
band..... where I do
solo performances... where I am guitar player for others who front the band.
It's all great practice. When I do my own gigs it varies. I do like
having other vocalists as consider myself more of a guitarist than a
vocalist, but others have been pushing me to sing more. It's all good.
Besides Jazz Is Dead, are there recordings from
these projects available?
JP: My own recording, Bohemian Soul and others are all being worked on and
are in various stages of development. The Jazz Is Dead record is closest to
being ready for release at this point...and I have been working in my own
studio for years.
This summer, you were asked to come to
the Berklee School of Music with the Jazz Is Dead band, and teach a
symposium on music. I heard it was very cool; can you tell about this?
JP: It was an honor. Two of the musicians
from Jazz Is Dead have been teaching there so it was a natural. The kids
were way into it. I sometimes feel a weight on my shoulder to try to rise to
the occasion for something like this because I want to be able to inspire
and convey what makes it all tick for me. I was quite happy with the way it
turned out because during the interview I think I was able to convey some
that no one in this world can play the note that you do... meaning, there
are a million guitarists...some who play rings around me technically... but
no one in the world can play the note I play with my heart and my life
experience.. and that is something for all students and even all people to
remember if you are ever doubting yourself.
"I now am concerned I won't be able to get to all
the sessions I have waiting for me in the mailbox. It's a lovely problem to
one can deliver your message to the world. So when you stand in front the
crowd at Cargenie Hall or even at the little club down the street, remember
that every performance is Carnegie Hall.... as it is an opportunity to share
your essence... whether there are 150,000 people there or 10 people to hear
it, that's the gift you were brought into this world to share.
Are you still your own manager?
JP: I have never taken on an actual manager. Fortunately work has always
been there in one way or another. Since I have been a teenager I have made a
living playing music and I am very grateful for that. Admittedly, I am
sometimes doing work that is less inspiring then other work, but it's much
better than cleaning carpets or pumping gas... ha ha... which I did when I
was a teenager.... I mean... how good can you get cleaning a rug??? At least
playing music has an open ceiling in regards to how good you can get. I have
thought about management in regards to if and when I am touring a product. But I am involved with so many types of things I just didn't really go after
the “solo artist” thing yet.
how do opportunities come your way?
JP: Every which way.... I'd like to think that ultimately, we manifest our
opportunities. The music biz is like other businesses when someone is good
at what they do, word gets around, but there's more to it than that. Being
someone who is easy to work with, being accessible spiritually, all that
stuff is helpful in getting gigs. But for me, offers come in all kinds of
ways, and very often unexpectedly. In recent experience I am much more a
believer that there is a much bigger force at hand that is in sync with
one's intention and maybe also ones karma.
Recently the premise that we as
humans possess much more power that we can even fathom in our ability to
manifest what it is we need and want has shown itself to me. I have much
more faith that life morphs into new chapters because it is important for
growth. I am learning about all that every day of my life and I trust it.
What is your opinion of online discussion
communities such as the Lee Shore and other blogs and music-related
“lists” and “chat rooms?” Sometimes people make some fairly critical
comments about musicians and the work they do online. Does this bother you?
JP: People are people and everyone has their opinions. It's been quite some time since I have checked into these lists, as it was time for me to do other things. I do love the fact that so many people support CSN, C/N, CPR and I appreciate all the folks who have sent good energy my way because of the support I offered though my work and dedication to the various projects.
There were many years that those projects became a huge priority to me and it was a great gift that I will always have with me. It wasn't just a
gig. These people are great people with big hearts and of course along with that is all the politics, egos and all the stuff that goes along with being in the music biz.... being seen and talked about, within and around the music. It's important to not get caught up in the
extraneous BS. Ultimately I feel enriched by it all. I am very proud of the work we all did together and especially that a lot of great music was created and that the recordings will always be there.
What are some new technology
developments that you think have impacted music and your music, in
particular, the most?
JP: The fact that I am able to make a
living out of my own home using Pro Tools in my home studio is life
changing. I used to be very concerned when a tour ended what I was going to
do for reasonable income. I now am concerned I won't be able to get to all
the sessions I have waiting for me in the mailbox. It's a lovely problem to
"There are times when I
pick up the guitar and say to myself, wow, Jeff, you don't even know what
the hell you are doing"
a luxury problem, but what is “Pro Tools?”
JP: Pro Tools is the industry standard for recording digital audio software. I use Pro Tools in my home studio which makes it possible for me to not have to travel so much. The sessions are sent to me via the mail or the internet. I perform and produce my session work and send them back to the artist. So it's cheaper for an artist who wants to hire me because if they decide to work with me this way, they save the costs of flying me in, hotels and studio costs. I do the work for them at my own studio. Not to say that I don't still enjoy some traveling when it happens, but when the budgets are smaller, it makes it possible for people to still afford my fees as I have the flexibility to try to work with those budgets because I am not away from my home.
You humbly call yourself “Jack of all
trades, master of none.” Does this only apply to the music, or also to
other skills, other interests and endeavors outside of music?
JP: One can't call themselves a master and use a straight
face... heh... heh... I feel like I am good at what I do, but admittedly, there are times when I pick up the guitar and say to myself, wow, Jeff, you don't even know what the hell you are doing.... and it still sounds pretty damn good!!
different occasions you have said you consider CSN to be your teachers. Can
you be more specific about what you have learned from them and who
else do you consider your teachers?
JP: I am a self taught musician and all the music that I am attracted to is part of my influence and my embriodery. The Beatles were my first real teachers in regards to music that got me excited and inspired. CSN music offered other gateways to my understanding of the many possibilities
that profound synergy that is created though music where the sum is even more profound than the individual parts. That's one of the biggest lessons in ensemble music on this level. Music is such an incredible vehicle to convey energy, intention and message.
There are myriad lessons I have learned from my experiences playing and touring with these people, musically, and otherwise. I quit high school to take on music as my full time life course. The lessons never stop. To list the things I have learned here would take pages. I have been honored to be a part it anytime we share music together.
And I can’t resist asking this: what
do you think they might have (individually if you want) learned from you..?
JP: That Jewish kids CAN really play
What is your favorite CSN/Y record?
JP: A tough question because there are so
many beautiful songs… OK: “Déjà Vu.”
JP: I like the fact that they open up arrangements and take liberties with the solo instruments. Also some of my favorite songs are on that record.
The intermingling of the electric guitars...
I like guitar solos
if you didn't know!
I am surprised! But seriously, you met
David Crosby when you were touring with singer/songwriter Marc Cohn
[“Walking in Memphis”] in 1992. You attracted Crosby’s attention when
you played “Triad” during a sound check. Why pick “Triad? ” Though a
great song, it’s not one where a guitarist can really stretch out.
JP: Interesting I picked that
tune as I think some of the most profound music I ever made with Crosby was with either in CPR or with Crosby and Nash when we toured as a
trio. Hence the forethought of playing the tune “Triad” which talks about the strength of the
triad or trio. But in reality it was simply the first tune of his I could think of his at the time.
DIDN'T KNOW YOU COULD PLAY LIKE
What do you recall about the first time
you played with Stephen Stills. When was it?
JP: The first time I really got to play with Stephen was when I was asked to tour with CSN [in 2005]. I suggested I get together with Stephen on his own turf to get to know one another before we got into the rehearsal room to become comfortable playing together. He invited me to come over to his house. We pulled out a couple guitars and jammed on a blues together and after we finished he looked up at me and screamed, “I didn't know you could play like THAT”!
Admittedly it was another one of those life experiences you might hope would happen one day, but I never was quite sure it would because of the situation with CSN and them usually not having another lead guitarist around...(unless you happened to be Neil Young). In my early days of learning lead guitar Stephen was definitely an influence. To be able to play something with him and watch his eyes get all wide and excited from something I did made me feel a sense of completion, as he did the same for me on so many occasions.
Now that you mention it,
Stills also showed his appreciation on his latest
album, “Man Alive!”: he name checked you in the “Thanks section.”
How would you describe your relationship with him?
In the early days of my working with CSN Stephen and I had some amazing
talks and emails back and forth. I found Stephen to be very engaging and
excited to be working together. I think he liked the fact that I could
relate to him as a lead player and someone that he respected as a guitarist.
I would like to think that it brought out that side of him that pushed the
envelope even just a little more to do his best when he came up at bat.
David came up to me one day after a CSN gig and he said to me. “I haven't
heard Stephen play like that in years! The only other person I have seen do
that to Stephen is Neil. Whatever you are doing, keep on doing it”! What
From the beginning I had wanted to be of service to their music,
to do whatever I could to contribute to any of these varied ensembles. This
was a high point in regards to the CSN legacy that came to me musically at
such an early age and influence me as a young musician...that years later to
be able to give something back. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity
to work with CSN and be of any help or inspiration in any way. It was a
great life experience.
courtesy of Jeff Pevar.
In 2005 you toured with CSN in Europe.
Did you get a Stills and Pevar thing going on the guitar à la Stills and
Young? The dueling slides at the end of “Don’t Dig Here” certainly
hinted that something similar was going on up there on the stage…
JP: In the end, it's two guys who just love
to play guitar playing off each other. When Stephen plays with Neil it's
just that. No one will be those two guitarists that play they way they do
together, with the history they share together and all that. When Stills was
open to doing some trade offs with me of course I was thrilled, because I
have something to say. There were some amazing nights where we were smiling
ear to ear trading back and forth. At a certain point it goes beyond the
licks and who's doing what because it's just energy.... two people playing
the shit out of their guitars and making people, including themselves, happy
at the celebration of it all.
When with CPR you can stretch out on the
guitar; did playing with CSN give you same freedom, or was your role
JP: I was in a much more supportive role in
CSN because Stephen is the lead guitarist in that band. I played lead guitar
in some spots too, but he's Stephen Stills, ya know?! I was there to do
whatever I could to support the music and I was honored to have some spots
to do what I do in there depending on the night, the current arrangement and
all that. I sometimes felt a little funny playing too much because I never
wanted Stephen to feel like I was playing too much or that it felt
uncomfortable for him in any way if I was being too featured as a lead
I am an accomplished guitarist but in the end, people came to see
Stephen play his ass off, and when he does, there is no one like him. I was
thrilled at the opportunity to be in that band and not only support the
music but we were also playing a song I wrote with Nash (“Jesus of Rio”)
every night. It was such a sweet experience in so many ways.
"They threw a guitar in my hand and little did I know that Graham was unveiling the new Martin guitar CSN had dedicated to Gerry Tolman"
Jeff's first rehearsal
with Crosby & Nash.
Francesco Lucarelli, by courtesy of Jeff Pevar.
would you describe the recording of “Jesus of Rio” with Nash?
I am quite proud of it. It came together over time and it was a treat to
work with Graham on such a heartfelt piece of music. I am thrilled it came
out so beautifully. The fact that they decided to have James Taylor sing on
it too??? Pinch me. I mean, what a band. Leland Sklar, Dean Parks, Russ
Kunkel, James Raymond, Luis Conte and myself with Crosby, Nash and James
Taylor on the same song? Thank you, Graham.... Thank you, David.... Thank
played with CSN collectively and individually. Could you describe the
musical difference(s) between Crosby, Stills and Nash?
JP: The three of them are profound
musicians with individual strengths and fortes. It's like three of your
favorite flavors all coming together on one plate in CSN. They each are
profound artists in their own right and together is a beautiful synergy that
creates a whole other thing.