By Kristi Kates
Hes been called eccentric and professional; boogie-woogie and groovy;
and has played at jazz, rock, and blues venues across the continent.
Alan Gerber - who you might recognize from his work with the late 60s
band Rhinoceros (Gerber wrote songs, sang, and played keyboards for
the group) - is difficult to define, but also difficult to forget,
especially once youve seen one of his energetic and distinctive live
performances; and Northern Michigan audiences will get a chance to see
this transformative performer at concerts in Petoskey and Traverse
City this weekend.
Gerbers work with Rhinoceros gave him not only the opportunity to
showcase his own talent, but also to share the stage with a plethora
of other musicians of the day; while hes grateful for the
opportunities he got with Rhinoceros, he also says that the big-time
music scene wasnt as fulfilling as he may have anticipated.
I had the chance to meet & appear with many wonderful musicians,
Gerber remembers, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Albert King, Van
Morrison, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Janis Joplin, Frank Zappa, Jeff
Beck, and many others. But for the most part, this was not a joyful
time for me. I found all the corporate rock n roll hype, the
egomania, and the general overloaded frenzy of it all to be quite
heavy and ultimately disappointing.
More memorable for Gerber, he says, were his times alone in the bands
rehearsal space - and the development of the band itself.
Thats where I composed numerous new songs, he says, and when the
group was finally narrowed down to the final seven, I was really
impressed with the depth, power, and potential of the band.
As the 70s began, Gerber decided to step away from Rhinoceros and
begin his own solo career, which he says was a virtually painless
The transition from Rhino to my solo career was easy, Gerber
explains. I quit the group, went off on my own, wrote a bunch of new
songs, started doing solo shows, and eventually recorded a solo album
with Shelter Records.
That album, simply titled The Alan Gerber Album, would set the
foundation for Gerbers next five solo discs, plus his current
release, 2009s Queen of Hearts, which Gerber worked on primarily on
Queen Of Hearts was recorded in my personal studio facility, mainly
at home, he explains, because of the portable nature of my studio, I
did some of the drums, bass and guitar in other spaces.
Now miles away from the corporate rock scene, Gerber says he focused
the album on a range of themes, from more personal family matters to
spiritual growth, even throwing in a few humorous topics - and he most
definitely reveled in the time spent in his own studio.
The sessions were really enjoyable, especially the time frame I had
to experiment, with no rushing because of the time/money studio
factor, he says. I could always go for that one last take, which I
find to be an important luxury in a recording process.
Now taking Queen of Hearts - as well as songs from his other six
albums - on the road, Gerber is snagging rave reviews for his
stunning vocal interpretations and fine musicianship live.
His one-man show blends his rock, boogie-woogie, and blues influences
with his sometimes zany stage antics to make for a show that keeps
audiences engaged from his first step out on stage to the nights
final note. Given his prior band experience, fans of course expect the
music to be impressive - but what they might not be aware of are
Gerbers skills as a comedic performer, as well, which add an extra
element to his already interesting show.
During my live shows I strive for a mix, with beautiful poetry and
lots of laughs, Gerber says. This is exactly what people can expect
at my upcoming Blissfest show along with anything else that just
The Blissfest Concert Series presents Alan Gerber in concert at the
Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey, Saturday Oct. 9 at 8:00 p.m. For
tix and more info, visit www.blissfest.org. He will also be appearing
with Trina Hamlin on Sunday, Oct. 10 at the Loading Dock in TC at 7:30