Danny Mayer Lends Soul to the Alan Evans Trio
Standard rock journalist question—who else was a musical influence?
Obviously the music I listen to finds its way into my playing somehow. I’ve never actually tried to copy anybody’s style or sat there and learned, like Jerry licks, or John Scofield licks or anybody. I do know a lot of guitar players who are super into one thing and that’s their thing—or go through a Frank Zappa stage and want to play just like Zappa—but, it’s never happened for me like that. For example, I’ll listen to Michael Jackson one day and think, “that guitar part is so funky” and incorporate that into my playing. In terms of what influences me, its life. I have three kids, and a wife. Life, if you let it, is full of emotion—and music is about communicating that. Whether you’re so pissed off and you’re screaming, or you’re playing sweet, or sexy or pretty—you can communicate any of those things. It’s not about the scale of the chord—if the energy of the room is raging, that’s influencing me.
That’s why I sought you out. People love a peg to hang their hat on. “What’s it like,” they’ll say. And I’ll say, “Well, it’s like Soulive, but its different players playing different songs, so really, it’s nothing like Soulive.” I thought upon stumbling across you at the Crepe Place, this guy is cut from the same cloth as Garcia. I would think, “well that song has peaked”. And then I realized, “no it hasn’t we’re still climbing”—we’ve just reached base camp at Everest. And then it would just skyrocket higher, farther and weirder. Jerry was a notorious shoe gazer. Do you watch the people spastically dancing one foot from your pedals?
I do watch. There’s a lot of output of energy from the crowd and I feed off that.
It’s paid off. Joining the Alan Evans Trio is a big deal.
I’ve tried doing something other than playing guitar—normal things and it has never worked out for me. Chasing music I’ve moved seven or eight times to go to different places for people. It’s ruled my path in life since I was 14 years old. My wife and I have been together 13 years and she knows this is something I have to do—from 7 Comes 11, and On The Spot Trio and now being picked up by Al. It’s very clear the amount of time I have put in is finally paying off.
You were a Soulive fan?
That’s why I started On the Spot Trio in 2006. It’s modeled after Soulive. I met Al through a mutual friend, but as a fan. Every time they would come up to San Francisco I would go see them and introduce myself after the show. After three or four times I found out that Al was a recording engineer—I had no idea he even did that. In 2010, On the Spot trio was getting ready to record and I saw that he just posted something about discounted studio rates—it was perfect timing. The next day I called him up and I went to see him. Even with plane tickets and studio time it was cheaper then I would pay a local studio here in Santa Cruz.
When we recorded our last album in 2011—he flew out here to record it and played with us at the Crepe Place. After a few weeks of Tuesdays Al said “I got to get you with this organ player on the East Coast. Are you interested with doing some recording and some touring?” It was very casual. Two months later I’m out there recording Drop Hop. Two months after that we’re on the road. Three months after that we’re back on the road. There’s no end in sight. We’re booked solid through November.
Not this year, but for 2013. I feel very lucky, that’s what I want to get across. Al could have chosen anyone. There are literally a million guitar players who come out of the Berklee School of Music in Boston, right where he lives. New England in general is this Mecca of crazy shredfest guitar players—schooled and studied. I’m none of those things. I’m just myself. Just the fact he’s willing to deal with somebody who lives across the country to be in trio where the other 2/3 lives in Massachusetts. I feel real blessed the whole thing came about.
You got the golden ticket and not undeservedly.
Most people who play music struggle financially—to really commit you have to sacrifice your personal life or at least put it on hold. My family would probably be better off if I chose a different profession—but I don’t have a choice. In my own spiritual way I know I’m doing what I should be doing—which is chasing music, at any cost. Having three kids makes it very challenging. There aren’t too many people I know willing to sacrifice comfort for something that their heart is telling them to do.