Hoppy Holidays Countdown: #4

In anticipation of Hoppy Holidays, I will be counting down the top five keyboardists whom have had the most influence on my playing. I’ll post a different artist every few days between now and the first day of Hoppy Holidays: Friday, December 10th.

I am often asked to name the most influential keyboardists in my life. I usually just rattle off my favorites from then and now, but I wanted to really take a look at who influenced my playing. I didn’t want to select just keyboard players that I admire and study, but those that have made an impact on my performance and writing. So I scanned my iTunes library and dug up my old cassettes from the basement and this is what it came down to…

#4: Brent Mydland

I remember being freaked out about the name “Grateful Dead,” I always imagined a heavy metal band of sorts, but once I listened to what they were doing, I had more respect for the music. My brother had this great soundboard tape and the keyboards were super high in the mix, perhaps to the detriment of the blend, but it did give me a chance to check out some of his work firsthand. It was kind of like a personal keyboard lesson. And it was great to hear someone up close, acting and reacting to what was going on in the music. I remember checking out the whole “China Cat Sunflower” into “I Know You Rider”-sequence many times. There was such good listening going on from everyone on stage. The music seemed like a big conversation and Jerry’s melodies would weave through bass and keys lines so seamlessly. I’d never heard a piano player on up-tempo, almost-bluegrass-style tunes before, it was an eye-opener. It was in Brent’s playing that I understood how improvisational music could be brought into the rock realm. Basically, it was through him that I really started getting into the Jam scene.

Hoppy Holidays
12/10 Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom | Denver, CO – KHB feat. DJ Logic & Liza Oxnard w/The Nu Classics plus signature beer by Kyle and Boulder Beer
12/11 Hodi’s Half Note | Fort Collins, CO – KHB feat. DJ Logic & Liza Oxnard w/the Nu Classics plus signature beer by Kyle and Boulder Beer
12/12 Avery Brewing Co. | Boulder, CO – KHB plus signature beer by Kyle and Avery Brewing and much, much, more!

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9 responses to “Hoppy Holidays Countdown: #4

  1. Kyle, thanks for your insights on discovering the GD. It’s funny, I had EXACTLY the same misconception about them being a metal band up until my guitar teacher gave me a couple cassettes that I completely wore out. I loved Brent’s organ playing, especially on the jams leading into/coming out of the “I’ll get up and fly away” bit of Wharf Rat. He really brought that tune to a whole different level.

  2. Thats awesome. I personally think of Kyle as a mix of Brent and Herbie Hancock. Alpine Valley ’89 dvd was like my first Organ lesson, my buddy said “see that guy? do that.”

  3. Awesome! Brent for the win! My favorite Dead key man (as in Grateful Dead). Stevie = God, by the way.

    Loving it, Kyle. Cant wait to hear the final three. I’m guessing Herbie is gonna be in there somewhere. Maybe a Chick Corea or Mcoy Tyner? I dont know. Now that we got the Jam/Motown/Soul/Funk out of the way, lets move on to the jazz-funk/fusion.
    ;)

    RAGE LIFE!

    Dan

  4. Kyle, it must be us MD kids of the same age. I got into the GD at Loyola HS in ’82. Same thoughts about the metal band, and it was Brent and Weir that got me into them, and Phil and Jerry who got me hooked.

    The Brent influence in your style is noticeable, of course, but no where near a rip-off. Great artists soak it all up!!! :)

  5. I could n’t start to tell you how brent’s playing and songs helped keep the wayward spirits alive and the whole “Heart of gold band” in check so to speak. I was at 90% of the shows from summer of 1989 to the beginning of 1992. When the band couldn’t flow into Iwill take you home or We Can Run or little light or Easy to love you or Blow away, it was like “an empty bottle that can’t be filled”, although Hornsby gave it a hell of a run nonetheless.

  6. RIP Brent! Love that guy… great keyboardist, but my favorite Brent moments were when he got the chance to sing a tune. Dude had some soul that most of us would kill for.

  7. Brent was one of the select few that could make the B-3 sound like a 747 taking off right before your very eyes.

  8. Very nice street cred to Brent, I remember hearing about Brent in 1990 when I was in 8th grade and got to see Jerry only twice but wow, I have enormous appreciation for the GD, have studied their sound intensely as I have with SCI and Phish and definitely think, Kyle, that you do some great antics, sounds and general improv as Brent did and really get into the music like he did. Cool stuff, I am thinking the guy from YES could be up there…Rick Wakeman i think… Rock on Kyle, see you in 2011!!!

  9. It’s funny Kyle mentions thinking GD were a metal band. I always figured that much as a kid. I was 12 I think when Jerry died and had not ever purposely listened to the Dead. But I was at my firends house the day after he died and his mom was a huge Dead fan. He was telling me about his death in front of her and aksed “you know what group he was in right?” I said yeh “Guns N Roses?” those were the two most badass metal band names I could think of. Lol. When I finally spun some Dead vinyl (Working Mans) in high school I was a big metal fan and was sorely disappointed in the country sound I now love so much.

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