Your Lore Chapter 7: Danny Eisenberg


Your Lore Chapter 7: Danny Eisenberg


I don’t remember exactly when the first time I heard Danny play was, but it’s been in the last few years since I’ve lived in NoCal. What I do remember is the first time I listened to him play, what I heard was an inspired voice and more importantly what I felt were notes loaded with intent and emotion. Lots of players can rip up and down the neck of a guitar or a keyboard and spray a room with a flurry of notes (regrettably I can’t even do that), but very few musicians have an actual voice on their instrument. Danny is one of the lucky few. He expresses himself stylistically and emotionally through his music in a way that is uniquely Danny. What’s so wonderful about this fair haired, funny as shit, flip flop wearing Californian is that his playing so poignantly reflects his personality. He’s thoughtful, witty, curious, calm and a has contagiously quirky charm. That’s Danny Eisenberg the man and the musician. As Miles Davis so famously said, “It's not the notes you play, it's the notes you don't play” that make for a musical statement. Through his playing and his personality, Danny makes a statement. He has infected me with his music and bright eyed mischievous charm and through the things he choses to embrace and those he lets lie. - Reid

Reid: What was your “gateway drug" for music - when were you like this is who I am and what I want to do for the rest of my life?

Danny: My mom played a lot of The Beatles, Louis Armstrong and Donovan records as well as the musical Hair in the house- they really pulled me in. I’d be on the pots and pans playing along to those records when I was 8. 

Reid: You play piano, which includes all the variations from say a Grand Piano to Wurlitzer to Hammond B3 Organ.  Do you prefer certain instruments in general or in certain settings?

Danny: I love playing them all and it’s whatever feels right for the song.  

Reid: How has the tone(s) and quality of digital keyboards changed over time? Does it make your life easier as a traveling musician?  

Danny: Yes, they are definitely improving, but I still prefer a real instrument if available. I’m grateful to have the digital ones though.

Reid: You’ve got such a rich history as a musician and have played in a zillion settings. Is there a certain style of music you enjoy making most?

Danny: I love playing great songs with great vocals where there is room to improvise. I like it when the band gets psychedelic and where there is a lot of room to improvise within the context of the song. I also love being in situations where the musicians are open to losing the form of the song and letting “the music play the band.”  (One of my all-time favorite Grateful Dead lyrics and philosophies.) 

Reid: Is it true that you played in a band with Adam Duritz from Counting Crows before he was in counting crows? What was the band called what kind of music?

Danny: Yes, the band was called Mod-L Society (1986-1989), based in Berkley, CA. It was a really fun band to be a part of. The music we played was Americana based- a lot of great songs.

 Reid: You played recently at Shoreline with Counting Crows true or false? 

Danny: True. I sat in for a couple of songs. They’re a really great band and really great guys.  I also subbed in with them some years back on two different tours.

Reid: You also play with The Mother Hips quite a bit.  They are an incredible band and strike me as such a unique band - the music has a similar emotional quality to the Grateful Dead but sonically its dramatically different.  There is a quiet confidence to their performances, a weight. The song writing is impeccable, but I find it hard to express what makes that band so special.  What do you think the variables are that makes them tick?

Danny: Great vocals, great song writing and great playing. Great, great, great!!! Every night is different with them and they never play anything the same way. There is a lot of musical interplay and improvisation that happens with The Hips that makes the music interesting and exciting to play. They are a very soulful band. Tim and Greg both have new solo records coming out soon and the tracks I’ve heard from both records sound awesome. Tim’s record is being released at the end of March and Greg just released a new single a couple weeks ago with the album soon to follow.

Reid: What are some of your favorite bands/artists that your fans would find amusing? Guilty pleasures? 

Danny: I listen to a lot of jazz and black gospel music. I love the band Stuff- I can’t get enough of Live at Montreux 1976. The original Earth, Wind and Fire is one of my favorite all-time bands. I’m a huge fan. Maurice White, the founder, lead singer and main song writer of EWF, will always be one of my biggest musical and spiritual heroes. Also, Billy Preston is one of my absolute favorite keyboard players- goosebumps for days.

Reid: Best concert you've ever seen?

Danny: Oh my goodness, that’s a tough question to answer, there have been so many great ones.  One that really sticks out is Earth, Wind and Fire in 1976 with Ramsey Lewis opening up at the Oakland Coliseum. Ramsey Lewis came out and blew me away. I could have gone home after just seeing Ramsey Lewis and been completely satisfied. Then Earth, Wind and Fire came out after and it was as if a comet had come down from the heavens.

Reid: Can you confirm that Bob Weir is in fact from another planet?

Danny: Bob Weir is awesome. One of my favorite songs that Bob Weir wrote and sings is the Greatest Story Ever Told. The music really captures the feeling of the lyrics.

Reid: Is it true that you are the heir and major stock holder to the Flip Flops-R-Us?

Danny: Ha! I do love my flip flops.

Reid: Best bagel you ever had?

Danny: Zabar’s on the Upper West Side in NYC, courtesy of Reid.

Lori Sides