Rolling back the clock, perhaps to 2015, I was introduced to Greg Sover, a young man with the guitar licks of Jimi Hendrix (I swear that if you close your eyes, you would think the iconic rock star had been resurrected), and does Bill Withers proud with his cover of Ain’t No Sunshine.
My connection to him is more than a passion for music. His manager, Greg Schultz is a dear friend, and when he invited me to Greg’s CD release party way back when at a local venue called Puck, I was mesmerized and an overpowering thought was that he had stage presence and star power.
Fast forward and my premonition is coming true. Since then, he and his band have recorded three albums: Songs of a Renegade, Jubilee, and most recently, The Parade. They have performed at music festivals and venues throughout the country. Greg (in full Jimi Hendrix mode), offered forth The Star-Spangled Banner at a Phillies game.
How would you describe the varied flavors of music you offer?
The first thing that comes to mind is that the music is honest. It has this retro thing about it that I like a lot. With the lyrics, I try to paint a clear picture so you can see it as well as hear it, and I can’t forget the blazing guitar.
Please talk about how your upbringing influenced your music.
I’m Haitian and I was born in Brooklyn. Music came to me at an early age. My dad was a major influence. He played the guitar and bought me my first guitar at five years old. Growing up in a Haitian household, Konpa which is one of the native genres of music in Haiti was what was played in our house. The first English-speaking musician I heard was Bob Marley who is a major influence on me but as far as American music I remember my dad playing Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time and I was hooked, I remember being drawn to the guitar in the intro. I moved to Philly when I was young and that’s when hip hop and Country Music and Blues came into my life, but it was Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix who influence me to play Blues/Rock and I’ve been doing that ever since.
What was the pivotal moment when you knew you were destined for the world stage?
I remember the first time watching Bob Marley perform, it was with my dad and my uncle on a VHS. I knew then I wanted to perform
Do you get stage fright?
I do get nervous from time to time hoping I don’t break a string or I forget my lyrics (both have happened) but I don’t get stage fright.
How has the band evolved?
The band (Gary Lee, Allen James, and Tom Walling) is much tighter, we know each other better, and I think we’re all better on our instruments. I hear the difference in the projects we’ve done in the past compared to now.
What influences your songwriting?
Life, my experiences, also what’s going on in the world. I like to keep the listener informed.
I love that WXPN has championed your music and, like many artists whose musical careers took flight by being embraced by their listeners, I look forward to seeing you and your band on award shows.
Oh yeah!! I have acceptance speeches ready. But I still dream of the big stages/arenas but one of my major fantasies is playing Austin City Limits.
Who would like to open for?
I think it would be cool if I opened up for Eric Gales, Joe Bonamassa, and Lenny Kravitz.
Who would you like to open for you?
No one in particular but I can’t wait to start giving bands the opportunity to play. It’s hard for bands to find work so if I can give them an opportunity that would be awesome.
Does any of your music touch on social justice?
Yes. I think it’s important to touch on social justice. It’s not always about a love song and partying. Music has the power to reflect and be a mirror to the world. What happened to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020 was a sad exclamation point but I have a song on the EP named “Wake up” where I talk about being in the shoes of a colored person and seeing the challenges that are faced as far as injustices are concerned.
Since the pandemic how has the band shifted gears?
I’ve been doing Facebook lives, and I had the opportunity to host radio stations’ Instagrams. I released a single called Politician which is a Cream cover song and a project last October named The Parade.
What does it feel like to perform without an in-person audience?
It’s been ok but I miss the audience and the interaction. I can’t wait to have an in-person audience again.
Talk about your newest release.
The Parade is the name of this release and I speak about everything from social justice to politics and heartbreak. I wanted to do something different on this one, where the music is a bit heavier than usual but not too far from what I’ve been doing, with meaningful lyrics and a deep guitar tone to keep the listener engaged.
I am eager to see what the next few years hold for Greg and his bandmates. When they appear on award shows and stages worldwide, I will cheer them on and say, I knew them when.
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Photo by Greg Schultz. Used with express written permission of the photographer.