Unassuming, mild-mannered, Grammy-winning guitarist Ed Gerhard has taken his eclectic guitar work all over the world. The man is sickeningly talented, as impressive with the acoustic Hawaiian lap-slide as he is with a standard six-string or slide guitar. He’s bringing it all to Boulevard Music on Saturday, so we chatted with Gerhard about what we can expect…
CULVER CITY NEWS: WHEN DID YOU START PLAYING AND WRITING MUSIC, AND WHEN DID YOU START TAKING IT SERIOUSLY?
Ed Gerhard: I started playing at 14. By 15 I was playing in little church basement coffeehouses. There were some really great musicians back in my school and I loved being around them. As for taking it seriously, that happened on day one. Eventually, in 1987, my first record was released and I’ve been fortunate to have made a life out of music.
WHO ARE YOUR MAIN INFLUENCES?
Well, the first players to really get me were Andres Segovia and Mississippi John Hurt. You might not hear much of them in my playing but they’re the ones who got me really juiced as a kid.
DESCRIBE YOUR OWN STYLE…
I have a hard time narrowing it down to a few phrases. It’s instrumental acoustic guitar, of course, and I seem to favor stuff with some gravitas. I don’t do the blazing fast, percussive style. Lots of ballads, some arrangements of others’ tunes, etc. I try to make the music interesting, engaging and personal. I also do some tunes on an amazing sounding Weissenborn-style guitar. That’s basically an acoustic lap steel, played with a slide. The tone of that thing is compelling.
WHERE ARE YOU BASED? WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE LOCAL SCENE?
I live back in the woods in New Hampshire. I’m a mile down a dirt road. My local nightlife scene is basically owls and coyotes. Starting in the spring, there are Spring Peepers, frogs and toads singing. This is great music to me. One of the owls could use a little work, though.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST GIG TO DATE? AND WORST?
I remember a bar gig in New Hampshire when I was starting out many, many years ago; there were these drunks daring their friend to drink a beer mug full of scum water from the filthy aquarium on the bar. He had this severely bent cigarette in his hand and he did it. I’m fortunate that those days are way behind me but glad I endured them. The worst gigs always made the good ones better. I was happy and truly amazed that I could just play and make a little money. I was able to get invaluable on the job training. That really educated me about the true value of an audience for an artist. In a heartbeat one can win over a “bad” audience or alienate a “good” audience. Every aspect of this job is utterly fascinating to me.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ALBUMS / SINGLES AVAILABLE?
I’ve released nine records so far and will begin a new one in February.
HAVE YOU PLAYED BOULEVARD MUSIC BEFORE? HOW DID THAT CONNECTION HAPPEN? HOW DID IT GO?
I’ve played at Boulevard Music for a good number of years and I always love coming back. It’s important to note that this is a big music store. These guys have already put in a full day. When it’s concert time, the staff has to completely rearrange the entire showroom. All the guitars, etc., have to be relocated, chairs set up, the place becomes transformed into a concert venue. That aspect of the show is invisible to the audience but I see it. To be invited back year after year is an honor. I try to put in as much effort as my friends at Boulevard do.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE SET?
I only plan what I’ll start with and what I’ll play for the third encore. I’ll definitely be doing some material from a new record of cover I’m working on.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE PLANNED GOING FORWARD, AFTER THIS SHOW, FOR 2018?
I’ve been developing a bunch of material for an album of cover tunes and I’ll actually get around to recording in the next few months. I’ve always enjoyed working up and playing arrangements of some of the great songs of the world and it’s time to “get off the pot” as they say. I’ve been dragging my feet.
I am still in love with the guitar, with music, with playing music to people and I hope to keep rocking on till the very end.