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  • Jonathan Widran

GREYE, "Lucky"

In the six years since Daytona Beach, FL progressive Americana rockers Greye released their debut album Providence, they’ve captivated thousands via their high octane shows up and down the Atlantic Coast and throughout the Midwest. With a vibe driven by powerhouse classic rock styled vocalist Hannah Summer and her high octane, multi-generational band of badasses, they’ve heard it often from fans: “Gosh, you guys are so lucky to do what you do.” On their latest single, the groovin’ and visceral “Lucky,” they put an ironic spin on people’s perceptions. When the singer hits the chorus, “Oh may, may we all be so lucky, lucky, lucky, just like you,” she’s actually addressing her envy of their innocent viewpoint.

“In many ways, yes, we are very blessed to create and play music for people,” Hannah says. “Yet they don’t always see what goes on behind the scenes, the hard work it takes to do a gig, the packing and unpacking of equipment, the stresses of travel, and all the things it takes for us to get up and give 100 percent every time out. While I think it’s important that the glamorous part is all they do see, the song was inspired by the many ways one can look at the word ‘Lucky.’”

“Lucky” is the highly anticipated follow up single to Greye’s critically acclaimed fifth album Under The Weather, which was recorded at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and mixed by multi-platinum engineer Brian Reeves, who has worked similar magic for everyone from Billy Idol and U2 to Elton John and Miley Cyrus. The album has been in heavy rotation on multiple indie, internet and Top 40 terrestrial radio stations across the U.S. and overseas; its single “What If I” charted on the Netherlands Top 40, hit #4 after eight weeks and has been on the Euro Indie charts for seven months.

Reeves is currently mixing tracks for Greye’s upcoming album, which is due to drop later in 2020.

Launched in 2013 when Hannah, guitarist Jett Wolfe and bassist Joshua Reid were still students at Seabreeze High School (alma mater to Greg and Duane Allman and Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley), Greye’s unique chemistry and expansive array of influences are grounded in the fact that its other two members, drummer Ray Grimard and keyboardist/vocalist Ken-e Williams, are veteran musicians who are a whole generation older.

The band’s origin story is as fascinating and unexpected as it is organic. Hannah met Jett in a guitar class and was assigned to write an original song. Jett knew Josh from other classes, and the three decided to create an acoustic trio called Locals Only in order to enter the school’s annual Battle of the Bands competition. Josh invited Ray, his shop class teacher, to attend the event, where the trio performed the song Hannah had written titled “Grey.” The band finished in the runner up position and Ray – who led a unique double life as a veteran musician and studio engineer and owner – asked Josh if he and his trio would like to come to his facility and jam.

The following week, all four met at Ray’s studio, curious to see if their magic would translate to a fuller band with a drummer providing the backbeat. Ray’s initial intention was to help them develop a vibe and replace himself with an outside drummer, with him helming the sessions as producer and engineer. Hannah, Jett and Josh insisted he stay on in both capacities, and he brought in his friend Kenn-e on keys and backing vocals to add a deeper dimension.

“What made it work was this eclectic collection of musical influences,” Ray says, “starting with my passion for prog rockers like Yes, Rush and Kansas, the original trio’s folk leanings and Hannah’s penchant for theatrical music – and a voice that’s earned comparisons to Linda Ronstadt and Ann Wilson of Heart. Everyone finds it easier to pigeonhole bands as one thing or another, but what’s made Greye stay fresh over the course of five albums is that we’ve tried a lot of different sonic approaches. We’ve evolved through a lot of hits and misses, and unapologetically so.”

Hannah adds: “Having tasted and worked with elements from different genres over the years has given us as musicians a clearer direction of where we are headed, so that now we can bring something together propelled by a streamlined writing and production process that’s moving towards a more driving, funky and groovy sound.”

The journey from this exciting musical flashpoint to a breakneck annual gig and tour schedule encompassing 90-110 shows a year began with months of writing and rehearsing three times a week before they felt ready to record and play live. Drawing on his many years as a gigging musician, Ray taught his younger cohorts that being a professional musician was not some fairy tale life; to make it a viable career, they had to put in hard work and stick with it. When they felt they were ready, Kenn-e hooked Greye up with their first official gig, a local showcase on the beach called Bands on the Sand.

Highlights among the hundreds of shows they’ve done since include playing the Thoroughbred Music and Arts Festival in South Carolina with Gregg’s son Devin Allman and closing the BMI Festival in Key West in 2015. They’re a true traveling band, taking their bus most summers as far as Upstate New York, Vermont and New Hampshire and as far west as Ohio and Indiana. In recent years, the band’s sets have become increasingly focused on their original material, but their traditional set lists included kick-ass versions of classics by Heart, Janis Joplin, Linda Ronstadt, Gavin DeGraw and the John Butler Trio.

Greye’s discography includes their debut album Providence (2014) and three releases on Lakehouse Records, including The Tube (2015), The Worrier (2016) and Windows (2017).

The band has released multiple music videos showcasing their most popular songs, including “I Love You” and various tracks from Under The Weather, including “What If I” (directed by DMHS Damian Max Hardie Silva) and “Under the Weather,” directed by Brett Bortle of Weekend Warrior Productions, one of the premiere directors in the Charlotte, NC area. Weekend Warrior will also be producing the video for “Lucky,” to be released later in 2020. YouTube also has a small treasure trove of recent videos of shows the band has done in Orlando over the past year.

“I think the most important factors that have kept us so excited and striving for more are the friendship we share and our collective passion for the music,” says Jett. “Everyone wants to be here and play. Everybody wants this to work and continue to evolve. That’s why when we come together, we’re always so focused and committed - because we truly want to get better. In this band, literally everyone does everything. When we’re in synch onstage, we know that all the hard work has been worth it.”

Hannah adds, “At this point, it’s all about our love for the music. We’re so happy with where we are and I realize every time I set foot in the studio or onstage, these guys are my family. So it’s the passion for the craft but also being able to create music with the people you love.”

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