Above photo by Michael Lavine — (left to right) Sam Kiszka, Josh Kiszka, Danny Wagner, Jake Kiszka.
Anyone who struggled trying to get a decent sound out of a crap guitar back in the '60s — and who also feels that "the kids today" have it so easy with all the tech tools and manufacturing quality available to musicians right now — is going to love this story.
And you can thank a supportive, yet tough-lovin' father for inspiring what you are about to hear to from the band Greta Van Fleet.
The group is comprised of three brothers (Jake Kiszka, guitar; Josh Kiszka, vocals; and Sam Kiszka, bass/keyboards) and their best friend (Danny Wagner, drums) from Frankenmuth, Michigan. The brothers' father is a musician, so he was helpful and nurturing about their musical education, but he also challenged his sons.
In the case of guitarist Jake, it went like this: Jake started out learning things on a plastic guitar, but soon outgrew it and wanted a "real" instrument. But dad made him learn "Night Moves" (Bob Seger) and "Wild Thing" (Hendrix's version) on the plastic guitar before he'd be "upgraded" to a Fender Squier. Then, Jake had to master "Hey Joe" (Hendrix), "Sunshine of Your Love" (Cream), and "Smoke On the Water" (Deep Purple) before he'd be rewarded with his next guitar upgrade. The methodology definitely worked, as Jake assembled a library of songs and styles — falling into Hendrix, Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, and Elmo James as his main influences — and he also developed wonderful foundation from which to compose his own tunes.
Greta Van Fleet's emergence as a band to watch was even more organic than Jake's "progressive guitar lessons" — and just as informed by study, hard work, ambition, and accomplishment — as people gravitated to the group's sound without a ton of promotion or overt marketing. They've just been nominated for a Loudwire Music Award (Best New Artist), currently have a #6 hit at Active and Mainstream Rock radio with "Highway Tune," have amassed 1.4 million views (at press time) for the video shown below, and were even name-checked by Howard Stern on his radio show. As a result, Greta Van Fleet is embarking on U.S. headline tour that is almost completely sold out. Heady stuff...
There are some overt homages in "Highway Tune" that I'm certain GP readers will catch quite easily, but the song rocks hard and the guitars drive like a Mac truck outfitted with a warp-speed engine. What do you think?
Greta Van Fleet on Tour
15 The Basement, Columbus, OH* SOLD OUT
16 Madison Live, Covington, KY (Cincinnati)* SOLD OUT
18 Grog Shop, Cleveland, OH* SOLD OUT
19 Chameleon Club, Lancaster, PA SOLD OUT
21 Great Scott, Allston, MA (Boston)* SOLD OUT
24 Mercury Lounge, New York, NY* SOLD OUT
25 Chandler Lobby & Kirby Center, Wilkes-Barre, PA* SOLD OUT
26 DC9, Washington, D.C.* SOLD OUT
28 Pour House Music Hall, Raleigh, NC* SOLD OUT
29 Visulite Theatre, Charlotte, NC*
30 EARL, Atlanta, GA* SOLD OUT
31 Capone's, Johnson City, TN*
2 Ballpark Village, St. Louis, MO (supporting The Struts)
3 High Watt, Nashville, TN* SOLD OUT
7 Dow Event Center, Saginaw, MI (with Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
14 The Stache, Grand Rapids, MI* SOLD OUT
15 The Rave, Milwaukee, WI* SOLD OUT
16 Canterbury Park, Shakopee, MN**
29 WRIF Riff Fest, Detroit, MI**
30 WJJO - Sonic Boom Festival, Janesville, WI**
1 Louder Than Life, Louisville, KY**
3 Ottobar, Baltimore, MD*
5 Funhouse at Mr. Smalls, Pittsburgh, PA* SOLD OUT
6 Main Street Armory, Rochester, NY (supporting Hallstorm)
7 Rock Allegiance, Camden, NJ**
10 O’Connors Irish Pub, Clarksville, TN*
11 SideTracks Music Hall, Huntsville, AL* SOLD OUT
12 One Eyed Jacks, New Orleans, LA*
14 Houston Open Air, Houston, TX**
17 The Rock, Tucson, AZ*
19 The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA* SOLD OUT
21 Aftershock Festival, Sacramento, CA**
23 Star Theatre, Portland, OR*
24 Tractor Tavern, Seattle, WA*
* Headline date