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Please pardon me if I seem familar with Gregg Karukas. It's what we do in Maryland when we recognize family :) Master keyboardist, producer, arranger, engineer and hit songwriter Gregg is, indeed, a Hometown Hero. He grew up in the shadow of Washington, D.C., in Bowie - where his Dad had a popular roadside tavern. And a jukebox. Need I say more?
I do! Gregg heard influences early in life...the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Laura Nyro and Joni Mitchell. He found his "voice" a few different ways - not only literally - but, when the sound of his singing voice changed - he turned more to his keyboard. And discovered Jazz.
Iniitially moved by Stan Getz and Dave Brubeck, Gregg dove into the waters of straight-ahead Jazz and was influenced strongly by Bill Evans. But it wasn't just piano players that fascinated him. He was enthralled by Miles and Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan. And by the creative expressions that he heard in the D.C. area.
Young Gregg was in a band right after high school called "East Coast Offering." For five years, they smoked the music scene with covers - then it was time to jump ship and form "Natural Offering." This group became so popular that it opened for international acts at the legendary Cellar Door.
When Gregg moved to Los Angeles in 1983, the intention was to meet and play with more artists - not strike a deal of his own. But Fate had a different idea! Because of the strength of friendships from the D.C. gigs, he found work quickly - including a stint with Melissa Manchester - and was able to make the connections to debut "The Nightowl" in 1987.
A myriad of miracles has followed through the years - including a recent Grammy for his work with New Age artist Omar Akram. In town this weekend with Peter White, Gregg will visit us in the show's 1st hour.
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It's good to talk.