Harvey Possemato of HarveyBand - guitarist, drummer, composer and recording engineer

In 1993 Harvey Band released their first CD titled Crossfire. The instrumental band from Rochester, New York included Harvey Possemato on guitars, banjo, harmonica and percussion, Paul Hammerick on drums, Keith Laurier on bass and Gary Guth on violin, guitar and keyboards. Crossfire received excellent reviews from The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Freetime Magazine and Vintage Guitar Magazine. John Heidt of Vintage Guitar Magazine wrote,“I like this CD a lot! Possemato’s composition talent is stronger than many of the guys you hear on the big labels, plus he and the band are fine players.”

With the 2002 release, Green Flats Road, Harvey Band turned to acoustic music. The acoustic CD, "Tracks", was released in 2006 and Harvey Band continued to break new ground with great reviews and a fast growing fan base in the Rochester, New York area. 

The band has performed at Milestones, Java Joes, Meet the Artist on WGMC 90.1 FM, on“Rochester Sessions on WITR 89.7FM, at Media Play, Borders Books and Music and for the City of Rochester Summer Concert Series. 

Earlier releases include The Wheel (1988) and In The Beginning (1989). Band leader Harvey Possemato has studied jazz guitar with Sal Salvador and Gene Bertoncini and has studied composition with Donald Bohlen at The State University of New York. Harvey is also a member of Big Blue House, the Alysia Groth Band, the Greater Rochester Music Educators Jazz Band. He was also lead guitarist with The East Rochester All Star Band.

Interview with Robert Silverstein editor of Music Web Express

MWE3: Tell us something about your musical background and how long you’ve been playing guitar and other instruments as well. 

HP: I started playing guitar just like a million other guys, after the Beatles performed on the ED Sullivan Show in the early 60s. The following year I began playing percussion in the school band program. I played in several different bands in high school. In 1973 I entered college as a Music Education Major. I wanted to study music but I was also concerned about being able to sustain a reasonable living so I took the path to become a teacher. While doing graduate work as a Music Composition Major I began collecting gear for a home studio. The studio became a way to realize my compositions. This is really when I started playing many of the parts. I was already a guitar player and a drummer. All I needed was a bass to complete the band- good old Tascam multitrack to the rescue. So for the past 30 years I have been teaching by day, recording by night and gigging on weekends. It’s no wonder that I feel tired at times!

MWE3: Tell us about your new CD, (for example) the name of it, when and where it was recorded, who plays with you on the CD, some information on the way the album was recorded and how it reflects your overall musicianship and/or guitar style. 

HP: My new CD is called “One-Way Ticket”. The concept of this album is a bit of a departure from my other CDs which were collections of songs. “One-Way Ticket” is the soundtrack to an imaginary movie about changes in life in which we have no choice. With a one-way ticket you are not returning home. You venture ahead with courage because you have no choice. Being a soundtrack, so to speak, I recorded all the tracks myself. Many of the tracks started as improvisations as I watched video clips and later were worked into pieces with tighter forms. One of the aspects of soundtracks that attracts me is the idea of creating music with a vision first as opposed to starting with a cool riff on the guitar. 

MWE3: Tell us something about your favorite electric guitars and/or acoustic guitars and the guitars featured on your latest album, adding in something about your guitar set ups, amps, strings and pedals. 

HP: The main steel string acoustic that I record with is a Guild GF60 that is about 25 years old. This is an upscale model that Guild made in the 80s as they were trying to get Eric Clapton for an endorsement. I actually have a promo poster where Clapton is playing this model Guild. Unfortunately, at the last minute he decided to go with a Martin. The classical guitar that you hear is a Taylor NS32 SE. Both of these as with the other acoustic instruments were recorded in my studio with a Shure KSM 44 large diaphragm condenser mic. As for the electric guitars, I mainly use a Fender Strat and a Fender Telecaster. Both have ash bodies and maple necks which is a combination that I happen to like for the resonance. In most cases the guitars are recorded through either old tube Fender amps from the 60s or a Vox AC 15 Reissue. I also use an old Supro tube practice amp. I mic the speakers in a isolation box in my studio so I can turn them up and use the natural amp distortion without my neighbors knocking at my door with my ears ringing too much to know that they are trying to get my attention. As for drums, I’m a believer of real acoustic drums. I have Gretsch set with mics set up in my studio. I did use orchestral samples for the very last piece of “One-Way Ticket” which is a recap of an earlier theme- only orchestrated to sound like the end of the movie. I also recorded some guitars direct on track #3. So other than a few keyboard sweeteners, everything else is acoustics, amps and microphones- lots of fun, really. 

MWE3: Can you mention some of your musical influences, favorite guitarists and most influential albums? 

HP: On the acoustic side I’m a big Tony Rice fan. A lot of my music has also been influenced by Darol Anger with Mike Marshall. I admire Bela Fleck for taking contrasting styles and actually synthesizing a new music. I’ve also been impacted by Jerry Douglas’ Dobro playing. It has actually made me try playing Dobro. One of my favorite CDs is Jerry Douglas, Russ Barenburg and Edgar Meyer called “Hip Hop and Wobble” I also love Ry Cooder, “Music by Ry Cooder” which is a collection of movie soundtrack pieces. On the electric side I would have to name Robben Ford, Carl Verheyen and Eric Johnson has large infuences. Guitar players are always discussing Eric Johnson’s tone and I agree that he is a master of his sound but what is often overlooked is just what (what notes) he is playing. Eric, just like the other two people mentioned often improvise using very wide intervals. You hear both ends of the guitar and the middle at the same time. This has a huge effect on tone! Carl Verheyen has published quite a bit of instructional material on intervallic playing. This is something worth checking out. MWE3: Current and upcoming plans regarding your recordings, new recording sessions and upcoming tours and performances? As for recording, I’m always recording and piling up the pieces. The next CD will be primarily electric which is something I haven’t done since releasing Crossfire in the early 1990s. I released the acoustic CDs “Green Flats Road” in 2002 and“Tracks” in 2006. “One-Way Ticket” in 2009 is a soundtrack- both acoustic and electric. I’m really due to release more of a rocker. If my neighbors are reading this they should be worried. I’m as they say “retiring” from teaching school this year and plan to devote myself full time to performing and recording. 

MWE3: Can you tell us your web site and email contact info?

HP: My website is www.harveyband.com and my email is harvey@harveyband.com. There is a lot of music to listen on the site and often a free download of a song. I would appreciate hearing from people via email or my guest book. There is also a mailing list that people can join for gig and download announcements. Thank you so music for talking with me. It has been a true pleasure. 

MWE3: Thanks very much...for more information please contact: Robert Silverstein Music Web Express 3000 - www.mwe3.com 20th Century Guitar (1991-2008) PO Box 630249 Little Neck, N.Y. 11363-0249 917-776-2452 Breakthru87@nyc.rr.com