Leonard, who was David Bowie's guitar player from 2002 through 2013, tours regularly with artists such as Suzanne Vega and Duncan Sheik, and has done studio work with Roger Waters, is a resident performer at New York City's Rockwood Music Hall between larger projects.
Ed Lopez-Reyes: Gerry, you'll play your first show at Rockwood Music Hall in February: how long has it been since you last played there and how does it feel to be heading back to your semi-regular, home "residency" venue?
Gerry Leonard: This will be the first show since February 26, 2020. It feels really good to come out and play a show again after all this time. I wrote a bunch of new material during the lockdown and I hope to include two or three new pieces in the show.
ELR: This isn't the first time you've played live since the pandemic shut things down last year: what have you done so far, prior to this upcoming Rockwood Music Hall gig? What was your first show since things began to reopen?
GL: We finally played some live shows in the fall with Suzanne Vega. 10 shows in September, 10 shows in October, and a couple of New York shows after Thanksgiving. ELR: You also have a few live shows coming up soon: on January 7th, 8th, and 9th you're part of The Sound and Vision of David Bowie 75th Anniversary shows at New York City's The Cutting Room... can you tell us about these?
GL: I'm very happy to be part of this New York Bowie alumni concert. It is led by [Bowie alumni] Mark Plati and Henry Hey - they have been doing it for a number of years and they asked me to join it as the guitar player this year.
ELR: Any other plans for live performances coming up?
GL: I plan to do another show in January with my friend Duncan Sheik: we're going to play Nick Drake's Pink Moon album in its entirety. This was something Duncan and I did many, many years ago so it will be really fun to revisit it as we're both big fans of Nick Drake's music.
ELR: A collaboration with Pierce Turner is about to be released: can you tell us about that project and what you're doing for it?
GL: I got asked to produce Pierce Turner's new album. StorySound Records in New York wanted to make a new record with Pierce and he and I had spoken about working together - so it seemed like fate. We made the record in a studio in New York with Tony Shanahan from the Patti Smith band on bass and David Byrne drummer Yuval Lion. It really turned out great and we're looking forward to releasing it early next year
ELR: During the pandemic you recorded some material: was this material the work you were originally putting toward a new album or is this entirely different work that was fully inspired by the pandemic?
GL: I ended up doing two ambient guitar EPs during lockdown called Viral Times - they're available to download at my website or to listen to on Spotify.
ELR: Are there still plans for another Spooky Ghost album?
GL: I'm always writing, and it would be lovely to do a new Spooky Ghost album. Who knows, maybe even a live album...
ELR: How do you feel the pandemic influenced and impacted your music? Gear-wise, did you find yourself rebuilding your racks and reorganizing gear, discovering new tools, changing your sound in any way?
GL: In a twist of fate, I did a lot of repairs and rebuilding. Also had a chance to dig out my guitar collection and work on those. When we tour, we often us the same guitars all the time so it was nice to rediscover my 65 Gibson Firebird, for instance.
ELR: Did you feel the way you write music or feel inspired changed in that period?
GL: The Viral Times EPs came about through a different process. More like live improvisations on a theme. It was nice to do something different.
ELR: How are you and Pamela [Sue Mann - producer, musician, and writer, Leonard's partner] feeling after all the madness and do you feel we are even remotely close to some normalcy?
GL: Feeling okay - but would love for the dangers to be over.
EJR: Do you stay in touch with any of the folks you worked with when you recorded with Roger Waters and his team?
GL: Working with artists tends to be cyclical and sometimes a lot of time goes by before you work on a project together again. I try to be very patient :-)
You can see Gerry Leonard on February 5th, at Rockwood Music Hall: a limited number of tickets was available at the time of publishing on the venue's website, which can be accessed here. You can read more about Gerry Leonard AKA Spooky Ghost here. You can order his most recent EPs, Viral Times 1 and 2, here and here, respectively. There are some tickets left for The Sound of David Bowie show here, for the 9th of January - the last evening for this run of David Bowie alumni shows. Tickets for the Duncan Sheik show featuring Gerry Leonard in January can be purchased here.
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