Monroe is a place where people work together and support each other. And working together is what it takes to make good music. So gathering some of the nation’s top studio musicians and bringing them to Monroe for a one-night-only concert is how producer Keith Brock plans to honor the town that gave him his start, he said.
“People helping people – that’s the successful way of the world,” said Brock, who grew up in a troubled home in Monroe before going on to become a highly successful musician in Los Angeles.
Without the support of some Monroe families, jobs given him by Monroe businesses and inspiration and guidance from a special music teacher at Monroe Middle School, he thinks he might have had another life entirely.
“I had support growing up, jobs provided to me, and also just moral support with families that I lived with,” said Brock from his Monroe-area home (he has a second home and a recording studio in L.A.) “I could easily have gone down the path off drugs and alcohol.”
In 20 years of music in L.A., he worked his way up through the ranks and eventually began working with some of the city’s most influential talent. And when a conversation with a famous harmonica player who turned out to be a neighbor led to the idea of a Monroe concert, Brock decided to round up some of his renowned friends and put on a unique concert in Monroe Sept. 7 at Lake Tye Park.
Here are the musicians who are going to appear along with Brock, who is a guitarist:
John Popper is one of the world’s best-known harmonica players. When his band, Blues Traveler, hurtled up the charts in the 1990s, John Popper’s dizzyingly fast harmonica work was one of the band’s most distinctive characteristics.
It was a conversation with Popper, who Brock had recently learned was a neighbor of his in Monroe, that got the idea of a concert started, said Brock.
“I met him in Las Vegas about a year ago and played with him and I said, ‘Hey, you’re my next door neighbor, actually,’” said Brock. “I said, ‘I’m starting to work on a show for the town up there,’ and told him all about it, and he loved the idea.”
Popper is very busy with his own band now, but he happened to be free the night of the concert, and will make a guest appearance.
Carl Verheyen is most well-known as the guitarist of Supertramp. But he’s appeared in the credits on many other albums and soundtracks. He has done work for John Fogerty, Glenn Frey, Albert Lee, The Bee Gees and Cher, among others, and was on the soundtracks of The Usual Suspects, The Crow, Star Trek, Gladiator, Office Space and dozens of other films. In 1998 he won the L.A. Music Award for Best Guitarist, was named one of the 100 Greatest Guitar Players of All Time by Classic Rock Magazine, and won “Best Studio Guitarist” in Guitar Player magazine’s Reader’s Choice Awards.
He was also a featured soloist at the 2009 Academy Awards.
Verheyen also tours independently with his own band, and has a following in the Seattle area, where concerts at the Highway 99 Blues Club have sold out in recent years. He, in fact, will do a show at the Highway 99 the night before the Monroe concert, where he will be accompanied by Dave Marotta and Walfredo Reyes, Jr., two of the musicians who will also appear in Monroe.
To learn more, see http://www.carlverheyen.com.
Bassist Dave Marotta is a leading session and touring bass player in the Los Angeles area. He has toured and recorded with artists including Colbie Caillat, Burt Bacharach, Phil Collins, Manhattan Transfer and Bruce Hornsby, among others.
He also was in the backup band for American Idol Season 4, and has backed noted blues and soul acts such as BB King and the Righteous Brothers.
His film score credits include Blow, Wild Hogs, What Happens in Vegas and a large number of Adam Sandler movies including Mr. Deeds.
He also appears on television soundtracks including Boston Legal, CSI Las Vegas, Dharma and Greg, and more.
To learn more, visit http://davemarotta.com.
Walfredo Reyes, Jr.-Drums
Drummer Walfredo Reyes, Jr. is from a family chock-full of renowned musicians; his father and brother are both famed percussionists, and his grandfather is a well-known Cuban orchestral organizer.
Reyes recently joined the band Chicago and is touring internationally with them. But the lineup of musicians with whom he has traveled and recorded is immense. Some of the most well-known are Jackson Browne, Santana, Boz Scaggs, Gloria Estefán, Steve Winwood, Robbie Robertson and Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac.
To learn more, see http://www.walfredoreyesjr.com/fr_home.cfm.
Joining the L.A. Allstars, as Brock is calling his one-night-only band, is local Seattle singer Terry Hartness, who has played in a number of Seattle bands, most recently Overcome, which have toured nationally.
“He’s probably the lesser known of the guys, but he’s a good showman, and I thought he’d be good for the deal,” said Brock. “I wanted to tie in my Northwest roots.”
The band has already agreed on a set list of a variety of eclectic songs, but will only rehearse once prior to the Monroe event. That is to highlight the power of collaboration, said Brock.
And in a special tribute to an early inspiration, Brock has invited trumpeter Paul Harshman, who was his middle school band teacher, to appear with the band.
The concert will include three acts; including Seattle country band Five Dollar Fine, featuring noted vocalist Heather Rayburn, and The Randy Oxford Band, a multi-award winning six piece blues band. (Full disclosure: the author of this story is the bassist in that band.)
To learn more about the concert and to buy tickets (kids 12 and under are free), visit http://www.monroemusicfest.com/monroe%20music%20fest%20information.htm. Tickets are also on sale at Monroe City Hall.
The concert will take place Saturday, Sept. 7 at Lake Tye Park at 6 p.m. It is outdoor seating; bring a lawn chair or blanket. There will be food and beverage service there.