My name is Greg Schochet, and I have lived in and around Boulder, Colorado for 27 years now. Before that, I was born and raised in New York, on Long Island. Though I came to Boulder to study English at CU, my time here since has revolved around music. I have made my living as a player and teacher of guitar and mandolin for close to 20 years, as well as with production and session work. Below you will find something of a musical life story. For a more "professional" bio, see here.
My musical path has been circuitous yet always connected. I grew up in a house and station wagons that always had music playing. This was my father's music: Bob Dylan and the Band, The Beatles and Stones, Elton John, James Taylor and of course, Cat Stevens. My own tastes during high school added AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd and of course, the Grateful Dead. It was during this time that I first picked up a guitar, and haven't stopped playing since.
The Dead led me, like so many of my generation, to bluegrass, and the mandolin. I fell hard and fast for this music and its participatory culture, and in Boulder, then as now, there was an enthusiastic and welcoming community of pickers, public radio shows and cutting-edge bands.
My first serious band experience grew out of this wild bluegrass west: Runaway Truck Ramp. Named for a tune of mine that was named for a highway feature I am still fascinated by, RTR got me on the stage, on the road and in the recording studio. We made two records and toured the country in an R.V. playing our very Bouldery jamgrass, where fiddle and mandolin met electric guitar and drums in a dark Bill Monroe song. This late '90s period was an exciting one in the greater Boulder/Nederland metropolitan area, and RTR was smack in the middle of establishing the nascent "Colorado sound' that included future and current superstars like Leftover Salmon, the String Cheese Incident and Yonder Mountain String Band.
From the depths of my bluegrass tunnel vision, I began to connect the dots to other pillars of native American music: early country and honky-tonk, like Hank Williams and George Jones, Bob Wills' Western Swing, which scared the shit out of me, but I still loved it, some of the unclassifiable greats, like Norman Blake, John Hartford and Ry Cooder, as well as more contemporary Americana such as Steve Earle, Robert Earl Keen and Lucinda Williams.
This musical shift got me back on electric guitar and into my first country band: The All Night Honky-Tonk All-Stars. The brainchild of myself, Danny Shafer and Rebecca Frazier, the All-Stars found Boulder to be a surprisingly fertile home for the twang. While I immersed myself in the catalogues of Loretta Lynn and Buck Owens in a 400 square foot cabin in Boulder Canyon, perhaps more importantly, I acquired my first snap-button shirt and Fender amp.
You can imagine my excitement to learn of a thriving retro-country-rockabilly-honky-tonk scene in Denver, largely centered around the world-famous Skylark Lounge. It was at the Skylark, back when I still thought Lone Star was a beer worth drinking, where I first got an earful of bona fide country guitar and steel players and singers, and met my future band mates from the Hi-Beams. Before I knew it, my mandolin case was dusty, and I was carting a Telecaster and a Deluxe Reverb to gigs.
When the Hi*Beams called to see if I was interested in replacing their guitar player, I felt I had won the honky-tonk lottery. With a full schedule of gigs, a frontman from Texas and Colorado's legendary man of steel, Bret Billings, on the electric table, I knew I had to put my Tele where my mouth was. 11 years later, I think I passed the audition.
Which in a way brings this story up to date, 'cause looking back, it feels like my adulthood, musically, at least, began when I joined the Hi*Beams. There's lots to tell about these years, too, of course, and you can see more about the band and my other current projects on the music page. But really, if I say too much here, what'll be left for my memoir?
Thanks for reading this far, if you have! I'm so lucky to live the rich musical life that I do, full of inspiring collaborators, rewarding students, fearless dancers, hoppy beers and tube amps. Hope to see you out there.