How does Tyler Greenwell juggle it all?
As a family man, musician and record producer, Greenwell’s plate is overflowing.
But just days before the Grammy-Award winning Tedeschi Trucks Band jumped back on tour and a month before Whose Hat Is This? played his hometown for the first time, Tyler took time out for an interview.
During our interview, he revealed the secret.
“The only way I juggle it is because of my wife,” he said.
One week before The Whose Hat Is This? Show in Pensacola, Florida, I submitted this feature to the big local newspaper to run on the day of the show. Tyler talked about the jazz improv group, How Col. Bruce Hampton decided on Tyler’s nickname and more.
Tyler Greenwell has a warning for everyone attending tonight’s Whose Hat Is This? show.
“Don’t expect to like it. Don’t expect to hate it. Just come with an open mind,” Greenwell said of the improvisational jazz side project.
Unplanned, unpredictable and out of this world, Whose Hat Is This? features current members of the Grammy Award-winning Tedeschi Trucks Band exploring daring directions in live music.
“It’s just a tightrope every night,” he said, “Every show is different night-to-night.” It’s a good exercise for us and makes our rhythm section with Tedeschi Trucks Band stronger and able to go in different directions if need be.”
The daredevil directive of the band doesn’t surprise any of Greenwell’s friends and family.
Born and raised in Pensacola, he grew up in the 90’s punk rock scene. Inspired by local music legend Jimmy Lamar, an underage Greenwell snuck into shows and fell in love with drumming. Creating a makeshift drum kit with his mother’s pots and pans, he eventually graduated to a real drum kit and his music explorations exploded. An unflinching approach to music led to a five-year gig with avant-garde music pioneer Col. Bruce Hampton.
“My life was forever changed after meeting that guy and being in a band with him,” Greenwell said. “I’m not the same person I was before that.”
Not only did Col. Bruce change Greenwell’s life, but he also changed his name.
“Bruce had a habit of giving nicknames,” Greenwell remembered. “There were names of splendor and names of shame. Some days you’d be Garbage Truck, the next day you’d be Christmas Light. There’s no rhyme or reason. You’d have daily nicknames.”
But one day, after hours of knocking around nicknames while crossing the country in their tour van, Col. Bruce found a name that would stick with Greenwell forever.
“For hours they were saying every name you can think of,” he said. Greenwell cued the end of the band’s attempts and said: “You guys are never going to be able to come up with one.”
As those words left his mouth, it happened.
“This semi goes blowing past the van,” he said. But this was no ordinary semi-truck. The hell-bent truck blazing down the highway was built by an Ohio company with a century-long history in the transportation industry. The truck was a Falcon.
Greenwell replayed the moment, “Bruce looks and goes, ‘That’s your name; Falcon.’ That was it. Everyone lost it and it just became my name. I couldn’t fight it.” He’s carried the name ever since.
Fate follows the Falcon through every turn of his career. In 2010, after working with Derek Trucks, Greenwell joined Trucks and his wife Susan Tedeschi to create a groundbreaking 11 piece powerhouse.
Deeply rooted in rock, blues, and soul, the Tedeschi Trucks Band creates a sound that is as fearlessly innovative as it is moving.
In 2011, the band’s debut release “Revelator” won the Grammy Award for Best Blues Album.
Four years later, bassist Tim Lefebvre, saxophonist Kebbi Williams and the drumming duo of JJ Johnson and Greenwell were surprised during a night off of Tedeschi Truck’s European tour.
Lefebvre received an invitation to perform an improv set at a friend’s club. That night, at the famous A-Trane Jazz Club in Berlin, Germany, Whose Hat Is This? was born.
That improv set of jazz was captured and released as the band’s self-titled debut album.
Since their debut show, the band signed a record deal with Rope-A-Dope Records and are anticipating a second album soon.
“There was no planning,” Greenwell revealed. “It just snowballed into this band and we’re making a serious push.”
The band also added a new member.
“He’s an MC out of DC named Kokayi,” Greenwell said. “He’s been with (American saxophonist/bandleader) Steve Coleman for years and he’s an incredible singer and an on-the-spot composer.
The momentum of Whose Hat Is This? doesn’t interfere with the power of Tedeschi Trucks. It only makes the band stronger.
“The only reason we’re even able to do it is because of the time we spent in Tedeschi Trucks and having to back Derek up and what he does,” Greenwell said. “In whatever we do, they help each other greatly. This has allowed us to explore another side of that. It helps our performance with Tedeschi Trucks and gives Derek some more firepower. And you can never give him enough. Whatever you throw at him, he’s on it.”
For everyone going to the show in his hometown, Greenwell added to his initial warning.
“You have to have an open mind and give it time,” he said. “Because it will get there and once it gets there, it’s powerful.”
What: Spiderdo Presents Whose Hat Is This? (Jazz improv group featuring current members of Tedeschi Trucks Band). The Possibility Wave/S.T.E.M. will open the show.