JamTrotting the Globe ~ Uniting Music, Travel & Cultures

INTERVIEW: Jeff Pevar – Guitarist, Composer, Producer, Performer

Jeff Inger

Jeff Pevar is a guitarist, composer, producer, performer and multi-instrumentalist who has brought his unique style on stage and/or in the studio to such world renowned artists as Crosby, Stills & Nash, Ray Charles, James Taylor, Jimmy Webb, Carly Simon, Kenny Loggins, Joe Cocker, Jefferson Starship, Phil Lesh and Friends, Marc Cohn, Jennifer Warnes, Laura Nyro, David Foster, Rickie Lee Jones, Jazz Is Dead, CPR (w/ David Crosby & James Raymond) and many others.

Jeff is a sought after session musician who recently completed his first independent movie score, playing all the instruments for an independent movie called Walk-In, and is currently scoring music for a world class photographer/environmentalist/activist named John B Weller on his movie on the Ross Sea, “The Last Ocean”.

 Jeff is constantly involved with many interesting projects for the film and recording industry

 

1. How would you best describe yourself and your music as an artist?

That definition has changed so many times that it’s almost a day-to-day reinvention. I find myself constantly redefining my artistry, which is one of the most exciting things about the commitment of following a life as an artist. I think initially we have an idea in our minds of what an artist is, or what direction to head towards, but over time I have realized that the quest has encompassed so many factions of my creativity. I am a bit of an artistic chameleon. I am passionate about so many different styles of music and expression that I could never pigeonhole myself into one narrow direction, versus feeling more comfortable in having interests in so many different avenues. It is one of the reasons that I’ve been given the opportunities I have had to work with so many different types of diverse artists. It’s been a blessing to have strengths in many different styles. Admittedly, I have occasionally looked at as a curse because there have been times that finding my “true direction” has eluded me, until finally realizing that my true direction is in fact, any direction I am interested in any given moment. I find comfort in the fact that the only limitation is my imagination, and the most important thing is to be present in the moment of creation and inspiration.

2. What are your current musical endeavors?

This year I spent five months touring with the iconic Bette Midler in the U.S. and UK which was an unforgettable experience. I also am very proud of the release of a CD that I produced and arranged for the band, “Jazz Is Dead” (a well-known project featuring renowned jazz fusion musicians reinterpreting the music of the Grateful Dead that I have been a part of since 2000). This CD project was initially conceived in 2004. It’s incredibly gratifying to have finally finished it this year on the heels of the Midler tour, right in time for our JID reunion tour and the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead (For more info: http://pevar.com/music/jazzisdead-gratefuljazz/).

Currently, I am writing, recording & performing for an original music project with my fiancée, Vocalist, Songwriter & Visual Artist, Inger Nova Jorgensen (she is also the artist of the cover of the Jazz Is Dead CD & my solo album!!). I am also scoring music for an independent film (I have scored numerous films and  commercials). Inger & I are also producing and performing in monthly house concerts that feature different guests each month out of our home, and in special venues. We are beginning the fascinating process of Live-streaming these shows so that we may reach a world-wide audience.

In addition, as a multi-instrumentalist, I play a large variety of instruments and offer my talents in session work for various recording artists all over the world through my own studio, Pet Peev Productions. I am also involved in intermittent touring with a number of projects with artists such as Singer/Songwriter, Pat McGee, Marc Cohn (who I also toured with in the 80’s for many years), Jazz Is Dead, and many others. I have my own band, (Jeff Pevar Project) and I do a great deal of performing with different high caliber musician friends on the East and West Coast.

Last year I completed my debut solo album, “From the Core”, which began as 12 improvisations recorded on acoustic guitar and Mandocello for the PBS documentary “The Marble Halls Of Oregon”. After the National Park Service heard this music, they asked if me if I would consider releasing it as an album of it’s own. I then decided to take artistic license and bring the tracks recorded in the caves back to my home studio and overdub various instruments. The project evolved, and I invited some very special guests to add their unique flavor to select pieces, including Jon Anderson, the voice of YES, who co-wrote lyrics and sings on the song, “River Of Dreams” (More info at: http://pevar.com/music/from-the-core/).

3. When and where did you first discover the love of your instrument and how did it FEEL being on a stage the first time?

My first stage wasn’t an actual stage, it was a picture window in my living room that faced the front of the house and the street. I used to sit on the top back of the couch with my back to the window, playing guitar and imagine people walking by watching me. (Ha ha). I felt the rush of the acknowledgment as if I was performing, and even though it wasn’t an actual stage, it was that early feeling of being appreciated for doing something that I loved. It was a conscious intention to be involved with the gift and offering of the performance even before I learned how to play.

Jeff Inger4. What were your greatest influences as a musician?

I’m still constantly being influenced, however, my earliest influence was the Beatles, When I first saw them on the Ed Sullivan Show, it changed my life. I was hooked, and it was all downhill from there (ha ha). The list of additional inspirations is certainly too long to list here, although touring the world with Ray Charles for many years certainly affected my playing forever: I was in my late 20’s and it was not unlike the grasshopper and the master (Here is a video of me with Mr. Charles at the Royal Festival Hall in London in 1986- if you watch through the song, you can see Ray’s reaction to my playing, which is very telling:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5U5evPxGq6Q)

Following my days with Ray Charles Band, I have continued to play with a long list of wonderful musicians, to name a few; Joe Cocker, Rickie Lee Jones, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Marc Cohn, Phil Lesh & Friends, Jefferson Starship, Donald Fagen, David Foster, Alan Parsons and many more…every one, a profound influence in different ways.

5. How has your music evolved and expanded over time?

I am a continuous student of life, so not only do I learn from playing with other musicians (and from listening to their music), but I learn from every moment I am experiencing and appreciating life. That’s probably the biggest evolution that has occurred in me, the awareness that this expansion never stops, no matter what I am doing – everything influences the music and the creativity. When I was younger, it was as simple as wanting to learn a song that I was challenged by. I know now that setting my mind to accomplish something challenging, and then feeling the pride in attaining something that I am curious and passionate about, is where the magic lies. I learned that conquering the mountain that seemed so high in the distance was as simple as taking one step at a time. I now realize everything influences who we are as people, and who we are as people influences our connection to creativity.

6. What’s the cultural difference in playing locally and overseas? Or between cities and countries?  Got a great story?

There are pockets of culture everywhere, and particular places seem to have more of an appreciation for art and music than others. Certain places, like major cities, get bombarded with so many artistic things to choose from that people get overwhelmed and take things for granted. It is a difficult question because it varies and changes widely with each artist, each venue, and audience.

Cultural influences often affect how people react to music. I’ll never forget opening for Aerosmith before they were the huge band they are now, but they were popular in the heavy rock crowd. The crowd that night in New Jersey was so disrespectful to us as an opening band, they not only booed and spit, but some of the people later started throwing bottles. That was a real moment in time where I realized how a mob of people could actually justify being violent just because they were waiting for their heroes to get on stage and didn’t want anything or anyone else to get in their way. It was a very sad moment in time for me to realize what people were capable of in their selfishness. Life is a combination of all the things that humanity has to offer, some gloriously beautiful and some the opposite. Being an optimist, I have learned to appreciate adversity and the lesson it has to teach us (that being said, that was the last time I accepted an offer to open for Aerosmith).

I have toured overseas many times with many diverse artists, and the audience response and my experience has been unique every time, and it changes with each year that goes by.

7. Do you ever Jam off the cuff with local musicians and what’s it like interacting with your jam fans? If not, why?

I look for any opportunity to invite the muse, this includes collaboration of every kind. I welcome any opportunity to jam with anyone. I don’t care if it’s a 12-year-old young musician or a 70-year-old master… I learn from each experience. So called “Fans” are simply people who are part of the music. When people are there listening and contributing to the experience, they are as essential to the outcome of it all as the musicians. I am very grateful to all those who support our creative endeavors.

Jeff Inger

8. Please tell us about your favorite or most memorable musical career event?

I don’t usually rate my experiences…I have had similar questions in the past, and it’s impossible for me to say one experience is more important than another one. One notable moment that comes to mind is playing Carnegie Hall in NYC with David Crosby and Graham Nash, and having my father in the audience. In the middle of the show Graham took a moment to introduce the Pevar family to the crowd and asked them to stand up from the stage. That was certainly a poignant and meaningful snapshot of time in my musical history. I will never forget that moment.

9. What is it like touring? Being on a big stage with all the lights and people? Do you prefer large or small venues?

They are all unique and offer dynamics that are inherent with the individual experience. Personally, at this time, I prefer the intimacy of a small gathering because one can connect more directly with the audience. There is something very powerful about a large audience that is highly engaged in a show. The energy is palpable and creates a dynamic that is unique to itself. I am generally not self aware when I am on a stage because I am so intent on the music. Just being authentic and in the moment is what it’s all about. I believe we are offering something from an integrity of who we are, wherever we are.

When I was touring with Joe Cocker in 1988, we played behind the Berlin wall to 150,000 people. To my surprise, the actual video came out recently on YouTube!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaSno6BZ62sI am excited after all these years to be able to experience it again from a different vantage point).  If I am in a stadium, or playing in an intimate House Concert, it is always a unique experience and I am constantly growing from being in the moment. I remember once pulling up to a shady nightclub after a break in touring and feeling a little frustrated that I wasn’t on a larger tour at the time. A voice inside me reminded me of my humility and that my work is where ever I happen to be at any given time. It was an important moment for me. My mantra became “Jeff, every time you are playing, it’s all Carnegie Hall”. Whether you are playing for 10 people or 10 thousand, this is your calling tonight.

10. Do you have any suggestions or tips to JamTrotters on how to carry their gear when traveling on bus, train or planes? TSA?Regulations?

Very carefully. I actually leave my very expensive instruments at home whenever possible. I have instruments to tour with that in a worst-case scenario, if something happened to it, it would be easily replaceable. I always try to bring my guitars on to the plane when possible, so that I may easily store them in an overhead or a closet but having a good case that if they insist it has to be checked, it will be safe.

11. Is there anything you’d would like to share with JamTrottingtravelers…tips about places, restaurants, clubs, sights, etc.?

In September of this year I played the Sausalito Art Festival with “Jazz Is Dead”, and I ran into the actor who starred as the keyboard player, “Viv Savage”, in the band & movie “Spinal Tap”. You can find the video of our meeting on my Facebook page. In the video he and Rod Morgenstein and I are all chanting in unison his famous credo which applies to the above question. It simply states: “HAVE A GOOD TIME….ALL THE TIME” !!   (ha ha) (https://www.facebook.com/jeffpevarmusic/?fref=ts)

Info about my upcoming shows or tours, new music, CD orders, or to be on the mailing list for our Ashland, Oregon House Concerts, please check in at: http://pevar.com

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2 Comments

  1. Cheryl Cheryl
    January 9, 2016    

    I love that instead of a career event being important to him, it was having his Dad at his performance at Carnegie Hall — that is a family event. Mr. Pevar is obviously a humble and talented musician.

    • January 11, 2016    

      AGREED….isn’t it wonderful to have musicians share their experiences with their audience! I hope more professional musicians will come forward with THE TRAVELING HARMONICA. We do have a few more surprises on the way!