Geoffrey Fitzhugh Perry
Geoffrey Fitzhugh Perry
BMHOF Class of 2004
Born 3/29/61 to a church organist mother and a rebellious preacher's son father. Started on piano at age 5, violin at age 9, guitar at age 12, having natural musical aptitude and excelling on all. Began music theory at age 10, studying Jazz guitar by age 14. At 16, became enamored with the Bass guitar and taught himself from previous experiences.
Studied classical violin with top area players (Charles Haupt - concertmaster of Buffalo Philharmonic and, most influentially, with Dennis Piwowarski Ò currently with the National Symphony in Washington, DC), participating in numerous city, county, and State programs including being selected for New York State's Summer School of the Arts School for Orchestral Studies in 1978.
Soon learned of Jaco Pastorius and it was "all over." Tried to "become" Jaco (at one point even being physically mistaken for him in NYC in the early 1980's!). There was no turning back. The Rock n Roll bug had bit (and Geoff bit back).
By age 18, was playing Bass full time live, and doing Jingle work while also attending University of Buffalo on a full scholarship for violin. Spent the next 8-10 years primarily as a working Bassist in all kinds of situations: Cruise Ships (band leader for Carnival), Opryland (selected though national auditions for 1982 Worlds Fair debut of "Sing Tennessee!"), all kinds of Rock, Jazz, and Country music, and all their hybrids, including recording with another Buffalo native Ani DiFranco, and Nashville new-age guitarist Paul Carrol Binkley (who is currently part of Alabama's back-up band. See: www.heartdancemsuic.com ).
Geoff also followed some other personal interests at the time: martial arts, fashion modeling, gymnastic instruction, and a broad range of metaphysical studies. Musically, Geoff admits that during this phase, he didn't quite know what to "do" with the violin yet, except play it on a couple Ballads per night (with mixed results, when whoever was available would pick up the Bass)÷ until ending up in Gamalon in 1987, his first group in which he wasn't "The Bass Player."
"Gamalon gave me the opportunity to develop and stylize my (electric) violin playing and equipment," Geoff says. The group's music during this period is best described as a virtuosic instrumental rock, but could easily be summed up in one word: "Fire." That fire was transferred to audiences in the region around their hometown of Buffalo, NY, and many clubs had attendance records broken when Gamalon played. At their peak, Gamalon went to #8 on the Billboard Jazz Charts, signed record deals with Amherst and MCA records, recorded and toured with sax-great Ernie Watts, performed as a opener for a Newport Jazz Fest. date, and was considered for a Grammy nomination.
Knowing of Geoff's Bass talents, Gamalon leader, Ted Reinhart (ex-drummer for Spyro Gyra), encouraged him not to give up on the Bass though, and Geoff developed his "fretless piccolo Bass," later dubbing it "Quatar." This instrument (which he often also uses with a slide) has become a unique and important solo voice in his musical spectrum.
Geoff's Gamalon experience (and violin equipment searches) lead to becoming involved with Pearse Amplification, where he worked with them in their Buffalo, NY factory, developing new products and demonstrating at their NAMM show booths.
In the early to mid 1990's, as business dealings failed for Gamalon, Geoff went on to concentrate on his own music releasing "Fitzhugh and the Fanatics, Blue Standards," a collection of revved-up, stripped-down Blues meets Jazz standards (on which he played all the instruments himself). The local success of that recording lead to the release of another "Fitzhugh" recording called "Flavor" for HotWings Entertainment. "Flavor" is a Cajun/Zydeco influenced recording ("which was a style I was naturally heading towards, as I deepened my roots, mixing Blues-based improvisation with the violin," Geoff says). Eventually, he started playing and recording with LeeRon Zydeco and the Hot Tamales (whom he still plays with when his schedule allows Ò see: www.leeron.com) .
The later 1990's found "Mr. Fitzhugh" performing at Festivals (selected for NXNE, Philadelphia Music Conference, and Undercurrents in Cleveland, OH), doing club dates with his group Fitzhugh and the Fanatics in the Northeastern USA (at one point being seen on ESPN as the Buffalo Sabres' "fiddleman!"), teaching an average of about 50 private students per week, holding a number of String Orchestra director positions, marrying ( wife: Elizabeth), raising a teen-aged step son (Kyle), and entertaining 4 step grand children ("Not bad for a young-looking under 40 year old!," said Geoff).
Also of note is Geoff's associations with some of Buffalo's most noted musicians like LeeRon Zydeco drummer Sandy Konikoff (Joe Cocker, Bob Dylan, Taj Mahal, The Band), and drummer Gary Malabar (Van Morrison, Bruce Springstein, Eddy Money, Steve Miller) in a group called "In From The Cold" with guitarist Jack Sherman (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Dylan). Also, in early 2002, Geoff was asked to be part of Bobby Previte's (famed ex-Buffalo/NYC jazz drummer currently performing with Charlie Hunter) "Voodoo Orchestra West" to re-create Miles Davis' historical "Bitches Brew" album live.
Currently, Mr. Perry is directing Orchestra programs at the Aurora Waldorf School in West Falls, NY, and at the Nichols School, in Buffalo, NY, doing string instrument demonstrations in schools as part of "The Stringmen" (with 2001 North American Rock Guitar competition winner, Doug Yeomans), performing, writing, and recording with "folk-fusion" group "Emery Nash," and has recently signed a publishing deal with the Hal Leonard Corporation for his educational book/CD entitled: "Fiddle Jam, a way cool easy way to learn how to improvise" (to be released late fall 2002). He is also a D'Addario String Co. endorsing artist.
As a member of the "definitely different" category, Geoffrey Fitzhugh Perry has come to accept his role in life (musical and other-wise). Some have called him an "improvisational master." He's comfortable with that. "At this point," Geoff says, "I'm free and clear to expand my duties in life, and feel that my and talents make me a good candidate for making a difference in the world - or in the string world at least!"
Back - 2004