My guest this week is the incredible pedal steel, guitar, mandolin, and dobro player Greg Leisz. The word "ubiquitous" is usually placed in front of Leisz's name. With good reason -- the man's resumé is daunting, boasting spots with Joni Mitchell, Sheryl Crow, Peter Case, Paul Westerberg, Me'Shell NdegeOcello, Victoria Williams, Joe Cocker, Dave Alvin, k.d. lang, Wilco, Lucinda Williams, Bruce Cockburn, Shawn Colvin, Paula Cole, and the Ventures...to name a few. Not to be pigeonholed in just roots music, Leisz has also played with the likes of Beck, Matthew Sweet, Bad Religion, the Smashing Pumpkins, St. Vincent and Brian Wilson. Greg's inspired playing on many of Bill Frisell's projects form the last 15 years is what made me want to play the steel. Leisz spent his younger years catching acts like the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers in Southern California clubs. Part of his universal appeal -- which certainly draws on the experimental nature of those influences -- comes from an open-minded approach to lap and pedal steel, an approach that casts aside Nashville references. Leisz is also somewhat of a stylistic chameleon: You can't pin down a distinctive style for him because he chooses to serve and accompany a song rather than place his mark on it. His creativity and open-mindedness as a musician have allowed him a genre roving usually not accorded renowned steel players. Enjoy my conversation with Greg Leisz, and please subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes!
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