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Greg Jennings

Restless Heart is Celebrating 25 Years. How does it feel to be still touring?

It feels Great. We have been touring steadily since 2001 but it has been kind of 'under the radar'. Everyone is enjoying it and we appreciate it more now than we ever have. It is still a great feeling to be able to go out and meet people and entertain people but it is interesting how people have changed through the years. We still have a lot of people who remember us from back in the day and used to come to the old shows but we also have a whole crop of young people who will tell us that they remember their moms putting them to bed with our albums playing.. It's like a whole new wave of people who are interested in the band... It's kind of cool!

Let's talk some about your gear. How do you get that clean, chorus tone out of your guitar?

Well, back in the day, it was probably rack gear but now we fly to venues more than bus and it is usually rental gear. We look for any Fender Amp like a Deluxe or a Twin. Right now I am using a Boss ME-50 Multi effects pedal that seems to be the easiest for travel.Boss ME-50 I used to have the huge pedal board but the weight restricitons have become so stringent with the airlines plus, TSA would sometimes decide to take the pedal board all apart. When I arrived at the gig, I would have to spend countless hours reassembling the pedal board. I went with the ME-50 because it is easy to travel with, TSA doesn't take it apart and it is pretty much bulletproof! Any chorusing now is through the pedal. I don't use much chorus now... that was sort of an '80's thing. I understand what TSA has to do and why they have to do it so I guess if you use the Pedaltrain stuff where they can see underneath and on top of it, they will pretty much let that go. The board I used to use had cables routed underneath and it looked really neat but it was always under scrunity when we travelled.

Where did you get the inspiration for guitar? Where did it all begin?

Well, my Dad played a little bit; he strummed a guitar around some, and he was always a fan of guitar music. He always had on Chet Atkins or Bob Wills music around the house. He was a fan of western swing music like Buck Owens and I listened to Don Rich. After that I got into the Howard Roberts Quartet. After that The Beatles and Eric Clapton got big. I just grew up around music and since my Dad played, I wanted to play too. My first guitar was a Harmony Rocket. I wish I still had that guitar but it was stolen. The first song that I learned to play fluently was probably 'Wildwood Flower'. After the Harmony Rocket, I picked up a Gibson ES-175 that I still have. When I started playing in bands, the big bodied guitar with the distortion box and all the feedback didn't go too well with the band so I got a solid body Rickenbacker guitar. I still own that one as well. I used that Rickenbacker for the longest time then I bought my first Fender Stratocaster. I switched between a Strat and a Gibson Les Paul for many years but the Strat I would continually gravitate back to. As far as my tunings, most of the songs are standard EADGBE tunings. I use a capo on some songs like 'I'll Still Be Loving You'. There are a few songs that we do that use alternate tuning. One song in particular is 'New York Hold Her Tight'. The only difference from standard EADGBE is that the A is tuned up to B (EBDGBE). The original demo was done in Em and was written by a guy named Van Stevenson. He had a really high voice and Larry suggested that we take it down a step and a half which put me in C Sharp Minor! I just had to say... 'Good God, how am I going to do that?' So I borrowed a little trick from David Crosby. I know on the song Gweneviere, he had tuned the A string up to B. Doing that made the strings lay under my fingers a little bit better. "Long Lost Friend" is sort of an Open G with a Low C; capoed up. Back in the day, I used to carry many different guitars but now I just usually carry one due to travel restrictions. Sometimes Larry will rap a little while and I'll quickly tune the guitar to what I need.

What is your favorite song to perform live and why?

It varies. "I'll Still Be Loving You" is always fun, "Bluest Eyes In Texas" and "Humminbird" are fun too.

What are some Hobbies of yours?

I am a rabid music guitar listener, player, geek, gear nut! I also like to cook.

What was your favorite concert that you attended?

Most recently, it was Stevie Wonder. It was just song after song; hit after hit. What an amazing singer with an amazing band. I have seen tons of concerts. James Taylor, Todd Rundgren, Jeff Beck and Clapton are amazing. Just to show you how old I am, my first concert was way back in the day. It was Tommy James and the Shondells! The next real concert I saw was the band Yes.


What was some of your jobs before becoming a musician?

I've worked at grocery stores and my summer job during school was working at a bulk dairy plant where we would make powdered milk and giant 60lb boxes of butter that was sent to another plant to be cut up into squares to be shipped to restaurants and stuff. Throw in the occasional gas station stuff too.

Restless Heart has been known for it's phenomenal harmonies. When the band formed, was that by random chance or was it a calculated effort?

That was just luck of the chemistry. We were all in Nashville and one guy knew another guy who knew another guy who worked with this guy. There was a guy named Tim Dubois who was a songwriter that was getting into production. He got us all together in the same room and he made the introductions. We cut some demo's and noticed that there was a real chemistry in the vocals and there was a clear range where everyones vocals fell into place. This guy had the great low voice and this guy had the great falsetto and it just luckily fell together.

What do you think makes Restless Heart such a great band and what is your favorite part of being in the band?

Everybody can stand and deliver. Everyone plays well and sings well. That was one of the things that made us different. We played on the album and we also played live. When you came to the show it sounded like the album. It wasn't like some studio cats played the record with a whole different band on the road that didn't sound like the record. We could actually pull it off what we put on the record. We also get along just fine. We're all friends... especially at this point in our lives. All the rough edges have been worn away and everybody doesn't fret the small stuff anymore. We are all at a point now where we are happy and appreciative of where we are and that we can go out and play.

What happened that Restless Heart disappeared for those years?

You know, it just got to where we were on the road for so much and we spent so much time together and so little time with our families that we just had to take a little break from it for a while. Larry wanted to do his own thing so he left first. Then Dave left us and it went from 5 members to 4 members then three and we took some time off...then it was four again then 5 once again. What initiated the reunion was that John Dietrich received a letter from a fan who was sick. Their request was to see Restless Heart perform. We all got together in my little home studio and sang and played for the first time in a long, long time. It really felt good and we decided to pursue this thing again.

During the off time, you had the opportunity to play guitar for Vince Gill?

Yes I did. That was a huge validation for me to be asked to play guitar in a guitar players band. Being asked to do that was a huge compliment. It as a great band. It was Vince's big band with two drummers, two keyboard players, steel and fiddle. Vince loves to play so we would do two hour soundchecks and then put on two and a half hour shows every night. It was a whole lot of playing... but not a whole lot of solos for me in that band but I'm not complaining! It was a blast.

What is your career highlight... so far?

Gosh, there have been so many. To be able to tour and see the world and share the bill with such amazing artists. At this later stage in life it is cool to have these young cats come up and tell us that Restless Heart was a great influence on their music and that the reason they started playing was because of us. That is pretty cool that you may have made a differnce and that you may have made a little ripple that made it's way to someone.

Do you tend to enjoy the creative aspect and studio more or being on the road doing live shows?

A little of both. If you ask me at the end of summer after three months of continually touring I'd say that I like the studio more. But the studio can also be a little sterile and microscopic and you tend to focus too much and get wrapped up in the intracacies of things so it is fun to get on the road and blow it out a little bit.

What was your first big break?

Well, when I moved to Nashville, there used to be a big theme park called 'Opryland'. I auditioned in Oklahoma and at least had three months of work when I got there. Unlike other people that come here and just starve. That was my first big break. I had a couple friends moving this way and I kind of piggybacked with them.But to walk into town with a gig was a big thing.

Creatively, how do you approach song writing?

You know, every song is different. Some songs start with an idea and some start with a little riff or instrumental hook. We really haven't been doing much writing but we are pretty excited about getting back to writing since we have a new record deal.

If someone wanted to play in the style of Greg Jennings, what would they need to do?

play slightly out of tune and ahead of the beat! Just kidding. I try to put into the songs only what it calls for. I don't put a lot of flashy stuff into the songs. Just listen and be attentive to what the song is needing.