John Bartron Mike Tyler John Hasty Joey Fabian
The Bartron Tyler Group (featuring guitarists John Bartron and Mike Tyler, John Hasty on drums and multi-percussion, and Joey Fabian on electric and acoustic basses), is a band that reaches beyond the confines of any single musical category. Drawing from a broad scope of influences, their sound is an undeniably unique and potent mixture of one quart of progressive rock, a pint of acid jazz fusion, a dash of Afro Cuban and Celtic, and a twist of blues. Their purely instrumental sound interweaves strong melodies and intricate rhythms with seamless fluidity, while constantly teetering on the improvisational edge. With such eclectic influences the band can often shift their approach from the clock like precision of a classic progressive rock group to the intuitive explorations of the Grateful Dead influenced "jam bands". The band coined the term Hardwood Music to describe their unusual hybrid of rich acoustic guitars and percussive instruments fused with the latest in electronic effects, giving them a powerful outlet that dazzles, while still maintaining the subtlety and integrity of their individual voices.
Born in the San Francisco Bay Area, both Bartron and Tyler started playing guitar when they were eight years old. "Like so many others, I was swept away by the Beatles in the 60s, "explains Bartron, "and started taking guitar lessons when I was eight. In the fifth grade, my teacher recommended to my parents that I take drum lessons because I was banging on the desk incessantly throughout class. Music was always there." In high school, he studied with Jazz/rock guitarist Rich Healy, and later with Jay Jordan who both instilled in him a love for learning and supported him in developing his own musical identity. With a rich source of influences, ranging from Yes, Genesis, and Pete Townsend, to John McLaughlin and Beethoven, he developed a love for lyrical music and a musical flair that is fiery and inventive, yet precise. "I like theme and variation," he explains, "I like music that tells a story, that's lyrical even though it's instrumental." After graduating from Serra High School in San Mateo, California in 1978, he enrolled in the music department at the College of San Mateo, with the desire to refine his improvisational talents with music theory and ear training. It was at this time that he met Mike Tyler who was also seeking a suitable environment to develop his own innate musical talents.
Like Bartron, Tyler grew up during the guitar explosion of the 60s. "I remember every block having a garage band," he explains, "and that's where I got my first experience improvising. I think that prepared me for a lot of the stuff were doing now." A rock guitarist at heart, he was also drawn to progressive rockers like Genesis and Yes, and later influenced by rock-jazz fusion pioneers like Jeff Beck and Chick Corea. Over the years, he studied with Robben Ford and Joe Satriani. It is not surprising that he has developed a distinct style that is as versatile as it is precise; a sound that is charged with power and subtlety. After graduating from Terra Nova High School in Pacifica, California, he enrolled in the music department at CSM and started playing straight ahead rock guitar with Quiet Hands. He then met Bartron in an improv class where the two recognized shared musical tastes. After graduating college they decided to explore their unique sound and desire to write more challenging and diverse music.
After experimenting with different line-ups they formed a three-piece acoustic-rock band, The Civilians, (with Brad James on vocals) and enjoyed a long string of gigs around the San Francisco Bay Area. During this time, Bartron and Tyler continued to expand their original repertoire while refining their intuitive and improvisational sensibilities. After deciding to return to a pure instrumental sound, Bartron and Tyler went out on their own in 1990, this time looking for a drummer who could provide a rich percussive palette to support their dynamic arrangements. They hooked up with John Hasty, who at the time was playing with an acoustic outfit called Medicine Bow, and had played with progressive rockers Moscow and also the Madd Brothers, and who had a reputation for playing both a kit and hand drums (along with the kitchen sink).
Hasty started playing piano at five but found that drums better suited his love for rhythm. "I was lucky to get a really good drum teacher right from the start (he was ten at the time) who instilled a sense of joy and fun in playing. He taught us to reach inside ourselves and move through the music and convey that feeling to other people." His musical influences included the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Tower of Power, and Booker T. and the M.G.s, because the music was based around a strong groove. Later, more earthy, tribal sounds sparked his interest in exploring Afro-Cuban rhythms and more organic hand drums. It wasn't until he joined the Bartron Tyler Group that he was able to fuse the two together. "His kit really developed out of necessity," explains Tyler. "Because of the dynamics of the music we were writing, we really needed the nice, warm, woody tones of the hand drums with the more aggressive feel of a kit."
1993 saw the release of the band's self-titled debut album recorded at The Loft in Nashville. They've performed extensively in the San Francisco Bay Area, headlining their own concerts or opening shows for major acts. A favorite show had them playing to a full house before Bill Bruford's Earthworks at the Great American Music Hall. Street fairs and festivals have been their specialty. Over the years they've played at over sixty fairs, including Fillmore Street, North Beach, Union Street, Palo Alto, and many others. 1994 saw the release of their second CD, "Fillmore Street", a live album which captures the spirit and dynamic interplay of the band. Just about everywhere they played, they brought down the house as they displayed remarkable musical gymnastics, interfusing rolling arpeggios and sustained, lyrical guitar licks with whimsical rhythmic overtones. They were invited to San Francisco's KALW and Cupertino's KKUP radio stations for exclusive interviews and in-studio performances and were also mainstays on San Francisco's KFOG. They appeared numerous times on Cable Access TV (Pacifica) Bruce Latimer Show as guests in his variety show. They were invited (and accepted) to film the pilot of a new show for A & E called "Guitar Kulture." Their tune,"(I Won't) Hold My Breath" was featured on the DiscMakers 1996 Super Sampler compilation CD. In 1997 they selected "Sunlight Through the Clouds" for the more exclusive DiscMakers Independent Music WorldSeries," Northern California Heavy Hitters" CD, where they were the only instrumental band recognized. The song was from their third album of all original tunes entitled "Leap Day". The album, featuring 10 of their most potent compositions offers lyrical, intuitive music where improvisation and technique meet with uncanny precision. To perform this music live they enlisted the low frequency talents of bassist Joey Fabian on five-string fretted and fretless electric basses and acoustic bass.
Joey began his music career in Atlanta playing and recording with several prominent bands, including members of the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Sea Level, and the Glenn Phillips Band. Since Arriving in the Bay Area in 1991, he has performed almost every concievable genre of music from Soukous to Samba-Reggae, Blues to Bluegrass. Some of the amazing musicians he has had the pleasure of recording and/or performing with include Alana Davis, Hershel Yatovich, Will Ray, Celso Alberti, Mike Vanderhule, Mumblefinger, Chris Rossbach, Paolo Baldi, Taylor Collins, Scott Matthews, James Armstrong, John Cabán, Drew Youngs, Jack Chernos, Bryant Mills, Mike Emerson, Garth Webber and Nir Z. Joey has been the electric bass instructor at Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto, CA since 1994, and runs a small production studio called The Tomato Farm. He drinks a lot of coffee and eats a lot of vegetables. His extra-musical interests include his bicycle, physics and cosmology, and cooking.
Now a full time quartet, John and Mike were happy to relinquish their bass pedal duties and concentrate on their quest to write and perform music that could combine more and more styles and confound more and more music critics. So successful were they in this task that they were never even offered the chance to sell out, tone down and become another smooth-jazz super-star. Meanwhile, "Leap Day" began getting airplay (most notably the song "Hit The Ground Running" in regular rotation on KFOG's Acoustic Sunrise), and some steady Internet sales ("Leap Day" was voted the favorite album of Amazon.com employees). Sales at live performance however were phenomenal. Wherever and whenever they played people would snatch up their CDs keeping the bands musical fires stoked. August of 2001 found them back at Parvin Studios to put down on tape some of the tunes they had been honing at concerts, clubs and festivals. And TAPE they did. In this age of fully automated digital hard drive recording offering unlimited virtual tracks, BTg chose to go Old School:16 tracks of 2" analog tape whizzing by at 30 IPS. FAT! Released in June of 2002 BTg's 4th album, "Like A Metaphor" (clever eh?) expresses the bands musical ideal: compositions that are clean and clear, orchestrated yet alive, individual performances combining to create a rich melodic stew. Featuring a painting by Mike Tyler on it's cover and the compositional debut of percussionist John Hasty (Zuzu's Petals) "Like A Metaphor" is an album that dazzles your ears on first listen with it's intricate guitar interplay, yet keeps you coming back with it's solid grooves and cool tunes.
Shortly after “Metaphor” was released both Mike and Joey invested in ProTools recording setups and sessions began (at home) for what would become their next release. Summer of 2006 saw the completion of “Just About Almost There”. A favorite of the band, this CD is probably their most eclectic release to date. From the straight ahead rock of “Smokes Like A Fish”, the fusion of Afro/Caribbean rhythms and synth guitar in “Comp Day”, the deep groove and soulful, soaring electric guitar of “Model T” to the Sunday morning acoustic groove of “Ignorant (By) Design, “Just About Almost There” is an album that touches down in many musical geographies while keeping a coherent focus on listenability.
With five predominately original eclectic recording projects under the band’s belt, BTg decided to re-pave a more familiar path for their 2009 release “Yesterday Never Knows”. This collection of interpretive arrangements of Beatles’ tunes was two years in the making and presents these players tackling some of rock’s most recognizable melodies. They approached this challenge with a Fab-like zeal and the resulting music got immediate attention upon its release. John and Mike realized a long time dream by being interviewed for a feature article about the tones and arrangements they utilized on “YNK” for the January 2010 issue of Guitar Player magazine.
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