CD Release Party at Steel City Coffeehouse
STORY WRITTEN BY FERN BRODKIN
For Digital First Media
On the opening track of Greg Sover’s debut CD “Songs of a Renegade,” Sover sings “This is my moment.”
It is a moment that Sover has been working toward for over a decade. Finally all the pieces have fallen into place and the long awaited “Songs of a Renegade” is ready to be unleashed to the public.
Sover says his music doesn’t fit into one particular genre. It includes elements of “blues and rock with a dash of everything else.” He has been influenced by artists in multiple genres including Bob Marley, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Dwight Yoakam, Jay-Z, Gary Moore (Thin Lizzy and others) and Jimi Hendrix.
Sover has quietly begun to amass a fan base. He has been performing a limited number of live shows in the Philadelphia area while focusing on completing the CD. Winning the Philadelphia Hard Rock Rising competition at Hard Rock Cafe in 2015 put him on the map. And dynamic live performances at venues such as Sellersville Theater, where he received a standing ovation, are creating more fans.
Sover was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and his parents are Haitian immigrants. The family moved to Philadelphia when he was 10 and music was always all around him. Members of both sides of his family were musicians.
“I had uncles who were live performers. I always admired how they (played to) packed crowds. They are still known in the Haitian community.”
Sover’s initial foray into music came when he played snare drums in the 4th grade. And he is grateful for that experience because at that young age he learned how important it was to learn to read music.
“Playing snare drums… I was able to see what the music notes look like, the quarter notes, the eighth (notes), the sixteenth (notes), the triplet,” said Sover.
But it was his fascination with and love for the guitar that caused him to take music seriously. He is completely self-taught on guitar.
“My dad got me into guitar because (he) was the first person I had ever seen with a guitar. When I was about 16… I said ‘I want to do this. I want to take it seriously.’ I just didn’t know how to go about it then.”
Sover put together different bands and also began performing at open mics, including the old Grape Street Pub when it was located on Main Street in Manayunk.
“J.D. Malone [the open mic host] (is) the one who opened it all up for me,” explained Sover. “I used to go to the open mic and I probably played there a year. He comes to me and he says, ‘Greg, it’s time to go and get shows and make some money for this.’ I said ‘You can get shows and make money for this?’ I did not even know that.”
Slowly, Sover began to develop. Though initially he just wanted to be a guitarist and songwriter he has become a solid vocalist. It has been a team effort to make him a contender in the oh-so-competitive music business, where having talent is sometimes secondary to having good luck.
The first step for Sover to get to the next level was to find an experienced team that could help him refine his sound, improve his live performances and guide him through the recording process. Sover enlisted Garry Lee, a respected member of the Philadelphia music community. Lee is currently the bassist in the Deb Callahan Band and over the years has performed with June Rich, the Rhythm Cats Revue, The Daves and many others. Lee is not only Sover’s bassist, he co-produced “Songs of a Renegade.”
Lee assembled the band, which includes his long-time bandmates in the Deb Callahan Band – Allen James (guitar) and Tom Walling (drums). The three are among the most experienced and most talented in Philadelphia.
“With Garry, the whole structure (changed),” said Sover. “Garry definitely upgraded the game so much for me, from the music, to the shows, to the sound. It’s been amazing working with Garry.”
He added: “I needed pro-level musicians. They definitely added the Philly touch that I wanted. They brought my edge down a little bit. I definitely learned control more than anything. I used to play with no dimensions, no dynamics. It was always straight up, straight loud guitar. With these guys I learned dynamics.”
The Greg Sover Band made a memorable Steel City debut last December in a co-bill with The Peace Creeps. The Steel City patrons gave the band an overwhelmingly positive response and eagerly snatched up promotional CD samplers that were given away at the show. Sover and his bandmates are excited to return to Steel City, now under new ownership, to celebrate the album’s release and to continue to solidify a following in the Phoenixville area. They are also looking forward to once again sharing the stage with The Peace Creeps, which features Philadelphia’s legendary front man, Richard Bush, formerly of the A’s.