7 Questions with Dave Stryker

How many actively gigging musicians have the bandwidth, drive, and ability to record an album a year – since 1990?? Not many, which alone puts Bud fan, Dave Stryker in rarified company. Read more about what makes him tick and what’s coming down the pipeline from him.

How did your involvement in the recent PBS production for Wes Montgomery’s 100th birthday come about?

The producer Robert Todd Gould and conductor/arranger Brent Wallarab contacted me because of my affiliation with Indiana University (I’m the Jazz Guitar head) and they thought I could handle it. It was a daunting task, but I’m such a fan of Wes and he had such an influence on me wanting to be a jazz guitarist early on I considered it an honor. It was taped before a live audience at the WTIU studios at Indiana University with big band, orchestra, and organ Trio. No pressure haha!

We hear you used a Bud TEN for that performance! What drew you to Henriksen Amplifiers initially, and when did your relationship with the company begin?

I’ve known about the Henriksen Amps for a long time as one of the top jazz guitar amps. I ordered a Bud TEN and a Bud SIX for my jazz guitar studio at Indiana University. When it came time to tape the program, I brought the Bud TEN as well as a couple other amps but I decided to go with the Bud. I think it sounds really clear and warm on the broadcast.

You’ve released an incredible 35 albums as a band leader! How do you keep coming up with new statements to make; what’s your creative process like?  

I feel grateful to have the have had the opportunity to record so many different albums over the years. In 1990 I started a relationship with the Danish label, SteepleChase, and was able to record about one album a year for the next 20 years. About 10 years ago I started my own label Strikezone Records and have continued releasing about one a year. It helps keep the creative juices flowing thinking of new projects to work on and also helps to keep my name out there which leads to work, concerts, festivals, etc.

Having an album (or a concert or gig) coming up, helps to inspire me to write music. So knowing what I’m going to be doing and who I will be working with, I start to think about that and work on ideas and then start putting them together into compositions.

What qualities do you most like in an amplifier, and conversely what’s the worst thing an amp can do (for you)?

I have a pretty good collection of amplifiers. I like both tube amps as well as solid-state and I feel that each amp has a different color and sound. It just depends what I’m looking for. I definitely like amps that have a lot of punch (without distorting) as well as a nice warmth. When I was growing up and getting into jazz, the Polytone Amps came on to the scene and those had a really good sound for jazz guitar I thought. (They must’ve been doing something right if George Benson, Joe Pass, Jim Hall, etc. were using them). I feel like the Henriksen amps follow in that lineage, but hopefully a little bit more reliable, ha ha!

I guess that would be the worst thing is unreliability. You do not want to be on a gig or a concert and have something go wrong with your amp. No fun!

We enjoy getting to know our artists as human beings, and would love to hear about a particularly funny, disastrous, or interesting live performance experience you’ve had over the years.

Last summer, my trio opened up for Steely Dan‘s summer tour. Jared Gold, my organist brought along a Bud TEN as a spare amp in case anything went wrong with his amp or mine. (Yes, you can actually play an organ with organ bass through a Bud TEN and it sounds pretty good!). We had a half hour for soundcheck each night before we went on ( in front of pretty large crowds as you can imagine in some of the Amphitheaters).

This particular night all of a sudden I’m hearing country, western radio coming through my amp, ha ha! It turned out to be just the weirdness of the stage and some interference, but not having any time we went out in the truck and got the Bud TEN and of course it sounded great.

Outside of music, what’s your favorite hobby or pastime?

Family, hiking, golf, traveling with my wife, reading.

What should your fans be looking forward to in 2023 and beyond?

My organ trio will be playing at Birdland July 4-9 with special guest, the great Bob Mintzer on tenor sax. We’re going to go into the studio after that to make a new record. So, like I said above, I’m gonna have to get busy and start writing some new music. I’ve also been speaking with arranger Brent Wallarab from the Wes project we just did on PBS about doing a large project recording with orchestra and big band. I’m keeping my fingers crossed on that!

To learn more about Dave and his work, visit https://www.davestryker.com/

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