Versatile guitarist Jeff Pevar talks about Ray Charles, Miles Davis, and his experiences in music industry

"A music is a place to pour your love and your passion into, so in the big picture it’s all the same on a spiritual and emotional level. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That’s one of the great things about music too."

Jeff Pevar: The Music Voyager

Jeff Pevar is an American guitarist, composer, producer, performer and multi-instrumentalist who has brought his unique style on stage and/or in the studio to such world renowned artists as Crosby, Stills & Nash, Ray Charles, James Taylor, Jimmy Webb, Carly Simon, Kenny Loggins, Joe Cocker, Jefferson Starship, Phil Lesh and Friends, Marc Cohn, Jennifer Warnes, Laura Nyro, David Foster, Rickie Lee Jones, Jazz Is Dead, CPR (w/David Crosby & James Raymond) and many others. Jeff "The Peev" Pever, born in Springfield, Mass and spending his early years living in several towns around the Hartford, CT area.            Photo by Mark Arinsberg /Photos by Jeff Pever's archive, All rights reserved

Jeff is a sought after session musician who recently completed his first independent movie score, playing all the instruments for an independent movie called Walk-In, and is currently scoring music for a world class photographer/ environmentalist/ activist named John B Weller on his movie on the Ross Sea, “The Last Ocean”. In March 2016, Jeff was inducted to the NY Blues Hall Of Fame at the Kate Theatre in Old Saybrook, CT along with longtime friend, Jaimoe, drummer from the Allman Brothers Band.

Interview by Michael Limnios

What do you learn about yourself from the Rock n’ Roll culture and what does the blues mean to you?

I am so thankful for having such an immense school to learn from, this choice and ongoing study of the essence of humanity, soul, love, purpose and so much more though my ongoing pursuance in music. It was once said that many of us don’t play music just because we want to …we play music because WE HAVE TO. There is something much larger that guides us to this crazy life, filled with opportunity, diversity, challenge and ultimately, to be of service to the world thru music. To have this opportunity of communication is much larger than any one person, or idea or direction. It’s all a melting pot that has all the flavors that have ever been felt, played, thought of and dreamed of. Rock & Roll is as much a feeling as it is a sound….it’s freedom of expression…the unbridled passion and energy that goes beyond the notes and the lyrics and the sounds and the chords. I like to think of it as it’s an open forum that the creative are lead to, to open their imaginations up to and give this amazing possibility an opportunity to happen. I like the idea the only limitation is our imagination. I am so grateful to have found such purpose and such a limitless expansion in my pursuance of this celebration of life. It’s one of the reasons why I breathe and I am so thankful that music and this creativity flows though me, as it does.

Any term like Rock & Roll or The Blues can be interpreted so many ways. It can be described in as many ways as there are people who feel it and want to express what that is to them. In one sense it could be used to describe as a certain style of music, but both Blues and Rock & Roll encompass so many styles that I don’t personally think it can be narrowed down that simply. It’s a feeling you feel when you hear it! YEAH!

How do you describe Jeff Pevar sound and songbook? What characterize your music philosophy?                                             Photo by Mark Arinsberg

I am a student of all styles of music, although I have more experience in certain styles of music that I have had the great pleasure to have been drawn to and the musicians that I have played with in their particular genres. There is a general basis of Blues, R&B, Jazz and Rock all mixed together in my style overall but I like to consider myself a bit of a musical chameleon because I have played in many types of ensembles and I enjoy so many different styles of music…Jazz, R&B, Rock, Bluegrass, Improvisational music, singer/songwriter music, reggae, bebop…the list goes on and on. I like to think that I have strengths in a lot of these areas but I also think that my interest is in music with deep feeling…so it could be called Blues or Soul but again, it’s so hard for me to simply whittle it all down to a category. My interests are expansive and I am open to being guided to many places with my musical interests and choice to spend a life in music. As time has gone by, rather than limiting myself to a style that Jeff Pevar is, I would prefer to think that I am many styles and characters all residing together in my being, some of which I haven’t even discovered yet!

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

I believe that every experience is important. Taking a walk in the woods can be as important to your music as playing with Miles Davis, because it all feeds into the combination of your life experience. I think the best we can be is to get out of our own way and be a channel from something larger than our own ego and our own intentions. My personal belief is that we must experience as many things as we can to be more expansive which all feeds into our music and the well we drawn from to be creative.

I am very thankful of all the opportunities that have come my way. Playing with great musicians are an important lesson in certain ways but having all the other experiences also carve the diamond of who we are and what we feel. I think the best we can do for ourselves is allow all life’s experiences to assist in our development and come from that when we create. Best advice DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF EVER! WE ARE INFINATELY MORE POWERFUL THAN WE COULD EVER IMAGINE!

Are there any memories from Ray Charles; Crosby, Stills & Nash; and Odetta which you’d like to share with us?

I am working on putting together memoirs of many of these experiences because there are so many…too many to mention is a short interview. My discovery that Ray Charles would scream in delight to a certain type of heartfelt blues guitar licks that I would play was an immense transformation for me to experience. It was an affirmation from THE MASTER. That fact that I could move HIM. It became my nightly mission…to see if I could get Ray to squiggle in his chair with delight to my blues guitar playing. It wasn’t a certain lick or combination of notes …It was a feeling he felt which I had no control over it happening. I just learned to play with as much feeling as I could and then sometimes it would just happen. He would turn around and face me and say “YOU NASTY BOY!!”...ha ha

There are numerous YouTube videos of me playing with Ray live where you can watch him when I’m playing and he sometimes would either scream in delight or his body will shake, or he’d react somehow physically. That man felt music so strongly…that was such an incredible experience for me to work with him and see how passionate he was. Every time, everything he did. I was very fortunate to have had the experiences I did with him. All the musicians you mention are masters of their craft in their own ways and I am honored to have been chosen to work with all of them.

"I wish everyone this crazy world safety, love and peace. Please love they neighbor and treat others the way you wish to be treated. In humility and gratitude..."

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I don’t miss anything because I am constantly moving forward. Sure I have fond memories, but it’s a waste of time to not be in the present. It’s all we have! We can’t change the past or relive it….and the future isn’t happening yet, so I have learned to enjoy the NOW as much as possible and that it’s here for us to FEEL and enjoy! I fill my life with creativity and am constantly involved with dozens of creative things…writing and producing music for myself and others, booking and performing concerts, playing with dozens of different artists and different styles of music. I’m scoring music for films and writing music for commercials….a myriad of different ways to exercise my creativity so it keeps me moving in a lot of different areas. I often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all I want to do creatively.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

 That musicians would be celebrated and cared for more than they are, especially in the US. A lot of amazingly talented people have a tough time making ends meet when they get older. I would make sure everyone who gave their lives to music and have been of service to the world through music would be honored and never have to worry about putting food on their table or paying medical bills.

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues with Rock, Jazz, and continue to Folk, R&B, and World Music?

A music is a place to pour your love and your passion into, so in the big picture it’s all the same on a spiritual and emotional level. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That’s one of the great things about music too. There are so many talented wonderful musicians to listen to!

"Any term like Rock & Roll or The Blues can be interpreted so many ways. It can be described in as many ways as there are people who feel it and want to express what that is to them."

What has made you laugh from the 40th anniversary of Woodstock? What touched (emotionally) you from Joe Cocker?

I played at the 30th anniversary with CPR, that band I was partners in with David Crosby and I also played at the 40th Woodstock anniversary with Jefferson Starship, both at the original location in Bethel Woods. It’s was an amazing experience. I laughed because of my happiness, not because anything was strange.

I loved Joe Cocker. He was an amazing musician and sweet, gentle man. He treated his musicians and crew like gold. I was honored to know him and be of service to his music. We lost a great man but thankfully his legacy lives on. There are some shows I did with him on YouTube like playing in East Berlin, Germany before the Wall came down to over 150,000 people.

What is the impact of Rock n’ Blues music and culture and to the racial, political and socio-cultural implications?

I’m not an analyst, I’m a musician so I can’t comment on something I know so little about. I can only talk about my experience. I am in constant gratitude that I have music in my life and it gives me purpose and brings people together to experience joy and FEEL!

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

I can think of a dozen things but since the Beatles were the first real inspiration for me, let’s go to Apple Studios and I’m just going to hang out and watch the lads record!

Anything you'd like to say before you go?                    (Photo: Jeff Pever & B.B. King)

Hey thank you for your interest in music and asking e to share stories and thoughts with the rest of the world. I feel so grateful to have played music with Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, Rickie Lee Jones, Odetta, Donald Fagen, David Foster, CSN, Jefferson Starship, Jazz Is Dead, Phil Lesh, Odetta, Marc Cohn, Meatloaf, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Jimmy Webb, Bette Midler and the list goes on…. I have two CD’s that features my guitar playing and production that are available on my website. One CD is improvisations recording acoustic guitar in the Oregon Caves and then I overdubbed many instruments I played and invited special guests including Jon Anderson from YES to sing on a track. Another CD I recently released is for one of the bands I tour with called Jazz Is Dead called “Grateful Jazz” that I arranged the music of the Grateful Dead in jazz/fusion style featuring many famous musicians to play on this CD. I encourage all the folks who are reading this to come to website and order some of this music for yourself. I promise that you will enjoy it as I am have learned from some of the best musicians in the world and I am very very proud of these recordings.

I wish everyone this crazy world safety, love and peace. Please love they neighbor and treat others the way you wish to be treated. In humility and gratitude...

Jeff Pevar - Official website

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