Greg has given many listeners their first taste of The Chapman Stick. This innovative electric stringed instrument employs the Free Hands two-handed tapping method created by Stick inventor and builder Emmett Chapman
in the late 60's. Each hand plays its own part on the strings, tapping and holding notes independently for a full keyboard-like style, but with all the expressiveness and timbral colorations of a stringed instrument. Bass, melody, counterpoint and chords are all simultaneously possible in the hands of one musician.
With over two thousand performances in front of diverse audiences (jazz and rock festivals, concerts and clubs, college music series, live radio concerts, street performances) and twelve recordings under his belt, Greg has made the instrument his own. His repertoire includes dozens of original compositions, as well as a wide array of material from the Renaissance through jazz and The Beatles and contemporary rock, but his forte is his improvisation. He'll often launch into a spontaneous composition only to make a surprise landing in a piece by Miles Davis or Brazilian composer Luis Bonfa.
Greg was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area. Though he has resided briefly in Los Angeles and Santa Fe, New Mexico, Charlottesville, Virginia, has been his home since 1982, where he received his B.A. in English from The University of Virginia in 1986.
Originally a keyboardist and saxophonist, and always an improviser, Greg began making improvisational recordings at age fourteen. He picked up his first Stick in 1985 at the age of twenty, and quickly immersed himself in his new instrument. Greg's music is a product of the Charlottesville, Virginia music scene, which included a strong jazz and improvisational movement driven by musicians like trumpeter John D'earth and guitarist Tim Reynolds, as well as spawning the Dave Matthews Band, with whom Greg collaborated on several occasions on stage and in the studio. Greg and Tim released several improvisational recordings under the name of "Sticks and Stones", and the "groove poetry" trio Code Magenta featured Greg on Stick and synths with vocalist Dawn Thompson and the late DMB saxophonist Leroi Moore, releasing Code Magenta
in 1995. In 2014 Greg released AZUL
, a live studio improvisation with D'earth and drummer Brian Caputo.
Recently, Greg has been performing with singer/songwriter Peyton Tochterman. Greg also performs frequently with percussionist Darrell Rose. In 1999 the duo released a live concert video (Handiwork, Volume One), and Rose was a featured performed on Greg's Shapes
CDs. In 1999, he formed the Greg Howard Band, which released Lift
and had three tours in the US in 2000. As a soloist, Greg has released three CDs, including Stick Figures
, a defining work of solo Stick composition and performance, and two live improvisational CDs, Water on the Moon
(1998) and Ether Ore
Greg is an active teacher of Chapman's Free Hands method, having written two books on playing The Stick (The Stick Book™, volume 1
, 1997, and The Greg Howard Songbook
, 2009) and having taught dozens of Stick seminars around North America, Europe and Japan, as well as teaching at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and the Unversity of Virginia, where he is on the Performance Faculty. He is also an active writer on the subject of The Stick and the Free Hands method, with articles published in Progression and Bass Frontiers Magazines, and on the stick.com website.
In his spare time, Greg enjoy's cooking, reading, gardening, coffee, the occasional tennis or frisbee game, and hanging out with his family.