Backstage: Greg Loiacono plays on during pandemic

The first place Greg Loiacono will go after the quarantine: The next gig.

Greg Loiacono (Mother Hips, Green Leaf Rustlers) is releasing a new, full length album titled “Mystic Traces,” available on May 15, via Blue Rose Music. The following is an interview between Jon Siembieda of Tahoe Onstage and Loiacono as part of a series catching up with artists during the COVID-19 pandemic, to see what they are doing for creative output in these times.

You’ve been playing weekly live stream performances during quarantine. What have you learned during these shows? How do you adjust to playing to a virtual audience? How many songs have you played so far?

Greg Loiacono: I went into it with resistance. Emotionally, I was not in a place where I could even pick up my guitar to play my own songs, let alone try live streaming myself from my home onto Facebook. But I had quite a few requests from fans and I became increasingly interested in what it would be like. It was surprisingly easy to feel the energy of a live performance. And even though you can’t see people (and if you try to read their comments while you play you are bound to fuck up) there is the excitement of putting together a performance and delivering it and that feels really good. And receiving the feedback from fans after feels good, too. The music lovers need music, especially now in these crazy and challenging times. It also helps that I started with a built-in audience (my wife and two kids). And, although they heckle me more than cheer me on while I am playing, it helps raise up the energy. The best part about it for me is that I have incorporated my kids (Ella and Noah) into the show. To have them sing and play with me is a great pleasure. And, she wouldn’t have you know it, but Carolina chimes in, off camera, with some secret harmonies now and again. So, what started out with resistance turned into something joyful and something to bring our family together while we are sheltering in place.

I haven’t counted how many songs I have played but I do about 12 or so per set and I have only done a few repeats. I’d guess around 50 songs or more.

Your latest album “Mystic Traces” comes out this month. What song(s) off this record have shown you a new side in lieu of the current world situation? What’s a song you haven’t released as a single that you really want people to focus on when they listen to the record for the first time? For me, it’s the opening track, “Shoot The Messenger.” Great slinky vibe to give the LP a kick. There’s some serious introspection in the songwriting. To me, it is an exceptional late night record, or first-of-the-day listen while melting the sleep from your eyes. 

One of my favorite tracks from the new album “Mystic Traces” is called “Seen You Good”. It’s a mellower tune with fingerpicking guitar and upright bass. When Neal Casal visited me in the studio, he and I did the “aahs” on this track. We layered them up multiple times, moving around the room to different spots and switching octaves. This is a special track to me. It is a melancholy song with an eerie, beautiful and meditative vibe. This is one I can listen to over and over again.

Love that one. Where’s the first place you’re going after quarantine is lifted?

Disneyland? Just kidding. Um, wherever the first gig is 🙂

What record did you recently get that everybody needs to go and check out right now?

Have you heard the Bonny Light Horseman record? and the new Fruit Bats record. Pretty much anything Eric D. Johnson has been doing. Been geeking out on him big time, lately.

I’ll have to check those out. I haven’t seen Eric play for a few years. Last show was at a private house concert in Laurel Canyon a couple of years ago with Andy Cabic of Vetiver. I’m pretty sure you know the hosts! Ethan Miller (Howlin Rain, Heron Oblivion) has been curating a lengthy and deep quarantine playlist. What at-home listening are you vibing on nowadays? 

I’ve made a few shelter playlists on Spotify. These will give you a sense of what I have been digging lately.

Links:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3eMKR16CVn10xB1pefyHza      
https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3JlEnQq43ZP8HMWzDYWmjN

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5nRPz4bGJadE7vMxCSMihb

Oh, and this Mulatu Astake comp that has been touching me:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5nRPz4bGJadmulatuE7vMxCSMihb

Do you have a message for musicians and artists on the search for creative inspiration? In your opinion, what’s the best thing people can do to support the arts during these times?

Do the best you can. That’s all I got.

I gotta give a shout out to The Mother Hips and Green Leaf Rustlers. The Hips released a fabulous live album last November, and the Rustlers put out a live double LP in March. Both are some of my recent favorites, and great companions for shelter-in-place. What are some of your most satisfying moments from each? 

The “Magazine” from The Hips record is pretty heavy duty. And “Standin'” and “Positively 4th Street” are two GLR standouts for me. Oh, the “Ride Me High” is super fun, too. Glad you are digging both records, Jon.

Where can people keep up with your livestreams, new album, and band activities? 

I live stream at my personal FB page. I make it public so anyone can watch. I’ve been doing Saturday nights at 6 p.m. Pacific:

http://www.facebook.com/greg.loiacono.5

You can preorder my new record here:
https://artist-stores.com/pages/greg-loiacono  

Watch:

Video for “Animal Clouds” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exQWZQLL91A

Video for “Chamberlain’s Trunk” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSE3nEZLyVY

Video for “Close Your Eyes (We’ll Be There Soon)” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bt60BGOxV8U

Video for “San Felipe” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cd8IhRi7ZlI

— Jon Siembieda

Related story: Green Leaf Rustlers channel the Bakersfield sound.

ABOUT Jon Siembieda

Jon Siembieda
Writer Jon Siembieda plays guitar in the Southern California-based touring rock 'n' roll band Hunter & The Dirty Jacks. He is an avid concertgoer and album collector. His top five favorite bands are The Rolling Stones, Black Crowes, Faces, Mother Hips and Chris Robinson Brotherhood.

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