Can you give us a brief history of your playing career?
I was originally discovered back in 1990 by Mike Varney, who wrote me up in Guitar Player. At the time, it was prestigious to be featured in the “Spotlight” column- a lot of great players got their start that way. From there, things sort of snowballed into a lot of studio work (commercials, background music, albums, etc.) and in 1997 I was offered my first major-label record deal. I also ended up touring with some national acts, such as Blood, Sweat & Tears.
What inspired you to start playing guitar?
My parents pushed me to take a musical instrument. After my first lesson, I was hooked.
What was your first electric guitar?
I believe it was an Ibanez. (Strat-type)
What are your top 5 favorite records?
That’s a difficult question, but some of my guitar favorites are Albert King’s “Blues At Sunrise” and George Benson’s “Take Five” and “That’s Right,” but I listen to a lot of other instruments besides guitar. I’m more inspired by the tenor sax playing of Michael Brecker and Steve Grossman, the piano playing of Dr. John and the songwriting of Jimmy Webb than any guitar player. I also tend to like a lot of pop-oriented records. For example, Christopher Cross’ debut record featured some wonderful guitar playing.
What was the proudest moment and/or performance of your playing career?
Well, there have been many, but three things I’m very proud of are getting signed to RCA/BMG, releasing a Hot Licks artist video produced by Arlen Roth, and traveling the world playing guitar. I sometimes have to pinch myself when I look back.
How did you hear about Reverend?
I originally heard about them from guitar magazine ads and I met Joe Naylor in Philadelphia about five years ago.
What Reverend guitars are you using?
I’m very proud to say I’m using the Gil Parris model, but I also use one of the older Formica Reverends with P-90’s.
What do you like about your Reverend guitars?
The sound chamber design gives you a certain clarity that’s unparalleled and the necks always feel great.
What amps and pedals do you currently use?
I am happy to say I have two Reverend Drivetrains that have become quite hard to find, and I treasure them. As far as amps go, I usually link together two or three- a Tech 21, an old Randall and occasionally a Fender Princeton. Everything else is pretty much standard Boss fare.
Do you have any unusual hobbies, skills, or pastimes you’d like to share with us?
I love to exercise. I’ve always enjoyed collecting old recordings and with the emergence of the Internet, this has become easier. In my spare time, I also like to collect and watch 70’s crime dramas. There are definitely parallels between Columbo and jazz (laughs).
Do you have any advice for up and coming players?
Always remain a student. Never think you know everything. It will keep you humble and constantly improving. Also, diversify.
Please tell us about any of your current projects, tours, cds, etc. we should know about:
I’m happy to report that my “Strength” CD is getting a good amount of airplay worldwide and my DVD featuring Paul Shaffer, Bernie Williams, Randy Brecker and Dave Mann and hosted by Carolyn Kepcher of The Apprentice was just completed. It will soon be sold as a package with the “Strength” CD directly from my website- www.gilparris.com. I look forward to meeting all of you out on the road.