Sunday Spotlight: Tony Grey
Cory Vaillancourt caught up with Tony Grey to talk about the British Army, bass, Berklee, and the importance of being aware.
Newcastle, England native Tony Grey is no stranger to the Erie Reader or the Erie Art Museum - he played our "New Year's Eve at the Erie Art Museum" event last year, and can be seen in our area - at Romolo's and PACA, among other places - quite often, either solo or as part of a group. This Sunday, he'll appear at the Blues and Jazz Festival as part of a trio, with Berklee roomie Romain Collin on piano and James Johnson drums.
Cory Vaillancourt: Tell me your life story in less than 30 seconds.
Tony Grey: I was in the [British] Army, was injured, and was given a bass guitar as a means of therapy, you know, to overcome the trauma of it all. From there, John McLaughlin heard me play, and I packed my bags for the States.
CV: Tell me about the first time you picked up that bass.
TG: I was kind of a little bit proud, and I didn't want to admit that I needed help; but as soon as I started playing it, I got a sense of peace.
CV: How did your time at Berklee [College of Music] influence your playing?
TG: When I first went to Berklee, I was only playing for about 8 months, so my first experience was intimidation. I was surrounded by greats, so I was scared to death. I locked myself in my dorm room for 10 hours a day, every day. It was unhealthy; I always felt that I had to catch up with everybody else. There's so much to learn in music, once you sit down with it, it unfolds like a whole adventure, but once you respect the music, and give to the music, the music will respect you and give back to you.
CV: You also teach. Let's cut the crap – what's the secret? What is the essence of playing bass?
TG: Being aware of everything around you, being aware that in order to play well – especially bass, because we have a functional role where we support other musicians – you have to be aware of others.
CV: You play gigs all across the globe. How does this one compare?
TG: I love the idea of it. Erie is such a small town, but a small town with a big music scene. People are enthusiastic and open to it.
Tony Grey performs at the Erie Art Museum Blues and Jazz Festival on Sunday, August 4 at 6 p.m. For more information on the lineup, click here.