George Gritzbach Band a Fixture on the Cape Blues Scene
By: James Thomas, August 16, 2012
Ray Drueke - George Gritzbach jams with Laird Boles at a recent Jazz Jam, held each month at the Island Merchant in Hyannis.
When the George Gritzbach Band opens for Creedence Clearwater Revisited at the Melody Tent this Saturday, it won’t be George’s first time at the barbeque. He’s been a popular Melody Tent opener for a long time.
“I’ve done a good amount of playing over there, going back to the '80s,” Gritzbach says. “I’ve opened up for some great people, including B.B. King and Bonnie Raitt. But that was always as a solo act. I’m really looking forward to getting the band in there.”
Catch 'em in the act!
George Gritzbach Band
Opening for Creedence Clearwater Revisited
Saturday, August 18Cape Cod Melody Tent 21 West Main Street, Hyannis
Every-other Sunday at Harry’s at the Depot in Yarmouth starting September 2.
Alternating Sundays at The Beach House, starting September 9.
There are plenty of other cool gigs on the horizon, so make sure to check out the band at www.georgegritzbachband.com.
With Gritzbach on vocals, guitars, and harmonica, the outstanding band includes Bobby Alvez on drums, Michael Critch on keyboards, and the versatile Rich Hill on bass.
Roots rock blues
The band performs the blues: standards and originals. Proudly self-identifying as a “roots musician,” Gritzbach’s sets always includes a reading of the early country bluesmen’s standards that so deeply influence him, artists like Skip James, Blind Blake and Lightning Hopkins. The band also covers plenty of more mainstream blues from the rock ‘n roll era.
Gritzbach also finds joy in his own original material. “It keeps me moving, particularly writing lyrics. You’re not writing a book, man. You’ve got a limited amount a space. It’s tough. Then sometimes you find something that just… shines,” he says.
For Gritzbach, the blues is a still-evolving art form. “The hardcore blues guys might not like me saying this, but you gotta stretch the music. If you listen to the music it’ll tell you what to play. It goes where it will; I don’t try to stop it.”
A seasoned ensemble
Gritzbach and Hill go back together about 25 years. “We used to work steady down in Pennsylvania,” the bluesman remembers. “Then I lost track of him for a while, but we reconnected up here and he’s been back with me again for the past three or four years.”
Alvez has been in the band for a few years, too, finally hooking up with the band after many years on the same touring circuit. Hill suggested Critch to play keyboards and the band was born.
Gritzbach’s enthusiasm for the group is manifest. “These are seasoned guys,” he sums it up.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out the band, don’t miss out. Gritzbach is one of the most accomplished guys in the area. He’s recorded four albums spanning 35 years on indie labels based everywhere from California to Chicago to Vermont and toured extensively at home and abroad in support of his music. Two of his albums enjoyed European releases.
A native of New Haven, Connecticut, Gritzbach moved to Cape Cod in 1974, settling in Eastham, where he had some friends. He made his first record, Have You Had Your Gritz Today? in a basement studio run by folk music deejay Dick Pleasants in Woods Hole.
Now a resident of West Falmouth, Gritzbach holds a master’s degree in mental health counseling and is the program director at the Gosnold of Cape Cod’s Miller House for men in recovery.
These days, Gritzbach is back in the studio, hard at work on a new album. He’s excited about the material, particularly a couple of tunes with some hot horns. Although they’re recording off-Cape, famous Cape trumpeter Steve Ahearn is leading a horn section that also includes Rich Labedz and Mike Antunes on sax.
Rumor has it that the band might bring a handsome new ‘bone player into the section, too.