GALEN WESTON
Plugged In
(BluJazz Productions)

 

Guitarist Galen Weston covers all the jazz-rock bases on his 2015 CD entitled, Plugged In. The CD sounds very inspired by the jazz-fusion guitar school of fretboard greats like Carl Verheyen and Eric Johnson, but clearly, on the twelve track Plugged In CD, Galen dives deep into a number of music genres. The all-instrumental nature of the album is greatly enhanced by first rate sonic support from a number of musicians, including drummer Al Cross. The cover art of Plugged In features Galen in the throes of his art and the CD features in depth liner notes from noted jazz scribe Bill Milkowski. Speaking to mwe3.com about the wide range of influences on Plugged In, Galen explains, "I think because it was my first album and I was so excited to be doing it there was a lot of things I wanted to “say” musically. My first jazz albums is coming from my influences… Pat Metheny, Larry Carlton and Mike Stern. I love that music so I wanted to cover those influences with “Song For Daphne” and “Rose Garden”. Then there was the finger-style era which came to me via Tommy Emmanuel so I did “Country” in that style… well the best I could! 1970’s and 80’s fusion with Galen’s Vice. Eric Johnson is one of my biggest heroes and my tribute is “Rock Jam” and “Funk Opus #2”. Mark Knopfler gets “Yellow Guitar”. George Benson inspired “Bensonite” but it morphed quite a bit during the recording process. Joe Satriani and Steve Vai inspired “Tasteless” mixed with Macedonian music from my wife’s family. There is still more I want to do so I am working on the next album now." With the 2015 CD release of Plugged In, Toronto-based guitarist Galen Weston is off to a great start and he’s promising more high quality sounds in the future. www.GalenWeston.org / www.BluJazz.com

 


 

mwe3.com presents an interview with
GALEN WESTON

mwe3
: Can you tell the readers where you’re from originally and where you live now and what you like best about it? What other cities and countries do you like to visit?

Galen Weston: I currently live in downtown Toronto. I grew up in Freelton Ontario a small rural town just outside of Toronto. Toronto is a great city I love the multicultural aspect. I also love Europe. I recently spent some time in Italy, Switzerland and Greece.

mwe3: If you don’t mind me saying, it’s a bit unusual for a debut CD to be this good! When was the album written and recorded and how do you feel Plugged In represents you and your music?

Galen Weston: Well I appreciate you saying that. It took me two years to finish the album and I really grew as a musician during that time. I was fortunate to own the commercial studio in which I recorded it in. roseroom.ca I was able to spend the time required to get it just how I wanted and in some areas raise the level of my playing through practice to achieve that goal. I am not a native Jazzman although the album is not really traditional jazz. So for me, I love jazz but I have to work at it because I grew up playing rock and roll. So maybe we will call this rockin’ jazz!

mwe3: Your music is very authentic sounding yet there’s a kind of musical déjà vu spirit on Plugged In. How many genres do you think you cover on the CD? It’s very fusion-y sounding but there’s some great bluesy wailing as well. How do you feel Plugged In covers all the bases of your guitar style and compositional approach?

Galen Weston: I think because it was my first album and I was so excited to be doing it there was a lot of things I wanted to “say” musically. My first jazz albums is coming from my influences… Pat Metheny, Larry Carlton and Mike Stern. I love that music so I wanted to cover those influences with “Song For Daphne” and “Rose Garden”. Then there was the finger-style era which came to me via Tommy Emmanuel so I did “Country” in that style… well the best I could! 1970’s and 80’s fusion with Galen’s Vice. Eric Johnson is one of my biggest heroes and my tribute is “Rock Jam” and “Funk Opus #2”. Mark Knopfler gets “Yellow Guitar”. George Benson inspired “Bensonite” but it morphed quite a bit during the recording process. Joe Satriani and Steve Vai inspired “Tasteless” mixed with Macedonian music from my wife’s family. There is still more I want to do so I am working on the next album now.

mwe3: How important is melody in a guitar instrumental say, compared to mood, ambience or technique? Do you find your approach to musical content favors melody over style or technique?

Galen Weston: Interesting question. I am extremely focused on the melody. To me that is the story you are telling. Melody and rhythm are the most important aspects of the song. I get bored pretty quickly when listening to ambient guitar sounds. Technique is important to a point. You have to be able to have enough technique to tell a story. I don’t get caught up in it beyond that.

mwe3: Which guitarists were important to you while you were growing up in Canada and what guitarists and bands today catch your ear? Do you think the golden days of the guitar are a thing of the past or is the future bright ahead?

Galen Weston: From the rock era it was Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Slash, Joe Satriani and many others. Great era. Then Eric Johnson was the next major influence. I got into jazz late. I was in my early 20s when I started to get serious about it. Today I still listen to Mike Stern, Pat Metheny and others. Carlos Santana I have been recently enjoying. I think the future is bright for guitar. When people get sick of their computers they will start focusing more on the guitar. Everything goes in cycles and the guitar will have many more.

mwe3: You’re featured on the cover art of Plugged In playing a yellow Strat. What can you tell us about your yellow Strat? Has it been modified or worked on? You even dedicated a song to it on Plugged In! What strings and amps and pedals / effect do you like to plug in to the Strat?

Galen Weston: That guitar is magic. I bought it on Ebay, it is a John Cruz master built. Nothing can touch the sound and I have quite a few guitars including a ’65 Strat. It is mostly original. I changed the bridge pickup to a Dimarzio HS2. I can’t say it changed the sound all that much. I don't get that caught up with strings. Someone gave me a big box of Ernie Balls and I stick with them. 11’s to 52’s I think, so fairly heavy. I have tons of pedals but I realized I don't need most of them. I always thought growing up… if only… if only I had that pedal. I can now confirm the sound does not come from the pedal. I have 20 delay pedals and I can get the same sound from every one of them. But the irony is I think I needed to buy all those pedals just to learn that!

mwe3: Do you have a preference regarding acoustic guitars and can you see a day when you might have your own signature Strat?

Galen Weston: I would love to have a signature Strat. I think I would make the exact same guitar but try out more neck radius. I used a ’61 Gibson 335 on song for "Daphne". I used a guitar from Borne Custom guitars on parts of "Funk Opus" and "Late and Never". For acoustic guitars I have a Larrivee, Collings and Martin. They are all great. I used the Colling’s on "Country".

mwe3: Who recorded Plugged In with you? The playing is excellent all around and I read in the liner notes where you mention these musicians are some of the best session musicians in Toronto.

Galen Weston: When I first opened the studio Al Cross came in on a session for someone else. We started talking. He is an easy guy to get a long with and a great drummer. He recommended David Woodhead on bass and I went with that recommendation and I am glad I did. They work great together. In college I used to follow a band called “5 After 4”, a fusion band from Toronto. I really appreciated Matt Horner’s keyboard playing so I hunted him down. Richard Underhill is a great sax player. I knew of him and just contacted him and asked him to play. We get along really well.

mwe3: You were active working in the online world before you decided to go back to the guitar? What brought you back the guitar and the recording world? I guess it’s our advantage that you did come back to the recording world! Were you active in the guitar world even while you worked in the internet world? Seems like the 2 worlds are so closely united these days!

Galen Weston: I think being mostly a self-taught musician being an entrepreneur comes along with that training. It’s a similar skill set. You gotta figure things out on your own. I graduated music school and needed a job. The live music industry in Toronto was dead. I was tired of being poor so I had to figure it out. I ended up in the financial industry, which led me to the idea of marketing for financial advisors. The internet was still new but somehow I figured out how to generate leads for people looking for help with their finances.

After ten or so years of working very long hours I finally took a fairly long vacation in Greece. A month into it my mind just opened up and I remembered who I wants was. I immediately committed myself to getting back to music to finish what I had started. When I got back to Toronto I started building a world-class recording studio. That way there would be no turning back! And here we are four years later.

mwe3: I hear a definite rock instrumental energy in your originals while, there’s also some tributes to great jazz composers like Keith Jarrett and Jimmy Van Huesen. On Plugged In, are you trying to link together the various genres of jazz, maybe in an effort to expose younger ears to greats from yesteryear and put it all into context? There’s a lot of music over the past 60 years!

Galen Weston: It’s funny I was going through my iTunes trying to find jazz standards to record and practice to. I was looking for songs I could make my own. “Country” is not really a standard but I happened to click on it. I picked up an acoustic and started trying to transcribe Keith’s playing because I loved it. A month later from practicing it day in day out I was able to play it. Like “Someone In Love” I also just clicked on. And for some reason I thought it would sound great played like ZZ Top. It was kind of cool but I toned the rock part down a bit. To be honest I was not thinking about other people… I did those two songs to challenge myself. I don’t think about the guitar in terms of genre. To me it almost is the genre. It ties all music together. That is what I tried to do on Plugged In.

mwe3: In the liner notes, you close by saying you have a lot more to do in the guitar / recording world. So now that you’ve made one of the great jazz-rock guitar fusion albums of 2015 with Plugged In, what sights do you have your eyes and ears set on next?

Galen Weston: Well I am working on a tour now that might be the most advanced theatrical visual show the jazz guitar world has ever seen. My uncle has animated a story that I have written in little segments about learning jazz. He has done movies with David Bowie and Roger Waters. He also animated Guitar Hero 3 by Van Halen. Stay tuned it is going to be special. I will also be introducing new material that I would say goes much deeper into the jazz world. I am pumped about it because I have been working really hard on some elements of my playing that will allow for me to enter new territory and merge all the influences tighter then I have. Also I have a lot more live experience that will be evident in these recordings. Should be finished in May to June.









 

 
   
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