“To me, the electric guitar is one of the most expressive instruments around… Unlike a saxophone, it can both “sing” and also provide chordal texture.”- @BalzerMusic
Episode #279 : A.V.A Live Radio Behind The Music with Jacqueline Jax
GETTING TO KNOW EVAN BALZER
by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio
I have been playing guitar now for nearly 40 years…
It was a huge part of my life back in the 70’s and 80’s. Took time off for a family and career, then I decided at aged 54 to do the solo guitar instrumental album I always wanted to do lol! It has been a dream of mine to do a project where I could call all the shots for the music I was hearing. I was first inspired to pick up a guitar by watching Ritchie Blackmore playing CalJam on TV, said “I want to do that”! Finally got a guitar, then virtually locked myself in my basement summer of ’76 with Robin Trower Bridge of Sighs and Deep Purple Burn and learned those albums by ear.
To me, the electric guitar is one of the most expressive instruments around…
Unlike a saxophone, it can both “sing” and also provide chordal texture. The goal of my album Colors That Move was to create a sonic painting with the electric guitar, where the guitar would be the voice. Jeff Beck did that many years ago with Blow by Blow, which eventually got to #4 on the Billboard charts. It’s a type of music I’ve always had in my head which I needed to get recorded.
I needed one more track to complete the album. I heard the studio owner fiddling around with something on a piano. I said “record a passage like that for me to play over”. He added a drum machine, which at first I wasn’t crazy about but then decided it gave it a more contemporary feel. I then went in and did a first-take improvised solo over it, and that become Jaded Raven. Thought it sounded good enough and decided I was done. Needless to say I’m astonished by how well it has been received. You just never know. My drummer Paul Ferenc wasn’t initially crazy about the drum machine lol! But he got used to the idea.
I live in the New York area…
just north of the city. It is a VERY vibrant music scene in the lower Hudson Valley, bordered to the south by the city and everything it has to offer, and essentially bordered to the north by what I would call the greater Woodstock scene. There is definitely a vibe around here, and the scenery is beautiful Places to go? Great music abounds everywhere, from Iridium in Times Square, to The Towne Crier in Beacon, to Daryl Hall’s new place he just opened in Pawling NY. Tell me about one fun thing you like to do that can be music or non-music related. I play competitive Ice Hockey on two teams. So I get on the ice two nights per week. That keeps me in shape and focused.
Well, I’m old enough to remember going around with cassette demos in the 80’s hoping to land a record deal, and if you didn’t get that, nobody heard you. Technology has given the musician much more independence and especially social media where you are actually able to be heard. I would not have been able to do my album and get it heard like it is now 30 years ago, so that is a big benefit. I lament the fact that many people don’t play instruments anymore when recording, but really it’s not all that different from when even big acts had studio musicians play the parts years ago. Guitarist Dick Wagner’s work (he recently passed way) on Aerosmith’s earlier stuff immediately comes to mind as an example. He did all that work on Train Kept a Rollin. The Wrecking Crews did EVERYTHING in the 60’s.
It’s an incredible tool for musicians to be heard and develop a fan base. I don’t think younger musicians today truly appreciate the magnitude of that fact and what a tool it is that we never had years ago. It is huge. Have you found any challenges that you’ve had to overcome? Yeah, instrumental guitar rock music isn’t a very popular format!! LOL But I knew that going in. The music really in the end wasn’t made for anyone but me. I wanted to see if I could still do it and had it in me. I was under no illusions.
Singles vs an album…
My answer I’m afraid is related to my age. Albums took you to another place. Staring at the cover art while you listened to the whole album was a transformative experience and gave the music life. It made it a work of art. To me, my album cover is an essentially part of my CD. Actually my daughter painted it. It was hanging on the wall in our house and I thought it’s make a great album cover. Talk about the differences in your marketing strategy to support your preference. Well, you have to cut through everything else, so you have to do it with a single. I do miss the day when I was a kid though, when you would put on the radio and Scott Muni would play an album in its entirety as soon as it came out. But it was a rare album that would get that treatment, you had to be on a major label.
I would love to have 5 minutes alone with…
Jeff Beck. He is the master of the guitar. In my mind, other than Jimi Hendrix, he has taken it to a place no other guitarist has. There are many GREAT players who are my idols over the years. But he comes closest to the human voice. After Jeff, maybe Bobby Orr LOL! He changed the game of hockey.
I’m too old to be trendy lol! My decisions were based on what I thought sounded good to my ears.
I am most afraid of…
Alcohol and drugs. Haven’t touched either in 30 years. They are devastating.
My personal definition of success is..
Raising three children to adulthood. There is no greater accomplishment.
My over all goal for my life & career is…
I just turned 55, my goal is to play guitar and hockey for as long as I can LOL! If people enjoy my music, that will provide me with great joy as well.!
3 Ways that I challenge myself
1) Have discipline
2) Have focus
3) Have energy
Guitarist Evan Balzer provides his listeners with a healthy dose of classic rock guitar. With soloing steeped in the blues, emphasizing tone, taste, economy and melodic content, his playing weaves a palette of soulful single-note lines, pulsing riffs and broad chord voicings into a sound that is truly unique, yet still reminiscent of his many influences. Decades of broad experience in rock, pop, blues and country have led him to his latest release “Colors That Move”, his first work as a solo artist.