Where the Deer and the Antelope Play
by Todd K. Smith The Cutting Edge

Tucked away in a road-side bar on the windy plains of Wyoming, sits a lean poetic figure. His golden mane falling gently around his shoulders; shoulders covered in a gypsy’s-terry-cloth shirt. Night after night his soothing voice blends harmoniously with the Ovation (guitar) resting on his lap. A welcome sight for the road-weary-traveler in need of a place to sit by the fire-light and shake off the cold.

For seventeen years Michael DeGreve has sat on his bar stool singing songs that tell his story. Some of the songs are his own composition, others are renditions of his many influences. Influences like The Beatles, Buffalo Springfield, his good friends; Crosby Stills, Nash and Young, and The Byrds. “ Growing up in the sixties,” DeGreve comments, “ this was my music. It is timeless music and still holds it’s validity today….It still moves me twenty years later.”

With idols so etched in the changing sounds of the sixties generation, it’s no surprise that DeGreve’s own music would have a similar ring. Gypsy’s Lament, DeGreve’s first album, is a self-study of a songwriter bringing to light his own rich use of melodies and vocal harmonies.

However, it is the long list of credits displayed on the CD’s back panel that is most surprising. Oddly enough, DeGreve, holed up in a road-side tavern, has some very impressive friends. The album’s title track, Gypsy’s Lament, was written with the assistance of Graham Nash, Leland Sklar (James Taylor and more recently Phil Collins) handled nearly all the bass tracks. Ian Wallace (King crimson, Jackson Browne, CSN, Don Henley) played drums. David Lindley (Jackson Browne) played guitar in conjunction with DeGreve. Even randy Meisner (Eagles/Poco/Linda Ronstadt) stepped in to lend a hand.

The influential names don’t stop there. Gypsy’s Lament was produced and engineered by Don Gooch (Crosby Stills and Nash). DeGreve's back-up singers, Marcy Gensic (Pat Benatar) and Teresa Lovitt (Rita Coolage) even come with their own list of credits.

In the creation of Gypsy’s Lament, no details were left out. Adorning the cover and lining the inner jacket is the work of famed Western artist Maija.

The six-foot plus DeGreve starts at the beginning in telling his tale of the wild west. He was born in sunny Los Angeles. Growing up in southern California, he was exposed to a culture rich in change and influence. His interest in guitar and the music of the time was second only to his love of basketball. An avid player, and a high school star, DeGreve has his sights on the NBA.

DeGreve told Elias Matsis of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, “By a twist of fate, I was not able to play ball anymore. One of the fellows I worked with at the L A Times had a band and I began playing with them. (After that) I became a late 60’s drop-out. I decided not to go back to college, I quit my job at the Times (editorial department, reviewing local concerts), and joined a rock n’ roll band. I did all the 60’s things.”

DeGreve went on to work with Truth, a band produced by Mickey Stevenson (Motown). Amid the shuffle of rock n’ roll and a budding acting career (Ozzie’s Girls), DeGreve took a two week contract in Cheyenne, Wyoming. “It was a two-week contract that lasted seventeen years,: laughs DeGreve.”

The story only gets deeper from here. “Some friends of mine from the University of Wyoming sent some of my music to their friends in Russia,” states DeGreve. “One day (last year) I got a call from this Russian promoter claiming that my album had gone through the roof in Russia, and invited me over.”

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. DeGreve goes on, “Russia is just now going through what we went through in the sixties. So the music that’s getting a lot of airplay is The Beatles, Stones, CSN and early seventies rock, like The Eagles. My stuff meshed perfectly with the time.”

‘When I got there I felt like one of The Beatles,” DeGreve, says in amazement. “I was greeted by fans with roses and shuttled from press conferences to television interviews. I played several small halls filled to capacity and then closed out the tour with a three night festival which included every major band in eastern Russia and over 10,000 people in attendance each night. The feeling was overwhelming.”

“I felt like an ambassador over there,” he continues. “Being able to enjoy their cities, the vodka, and the friendship. It was so amazing.”

“There is a song on my album that I do called Ground Zero. It’s loosely based on the movie The Day the earth Stood Still. It’s all about what would happen in the case of a nuclear war. Then there I was to the people that we had our missiles pointed at! It was very emotional.”

DeGreve explains the original work on Gypsy’s Lament. “The Ballad of the Lion and the Bear is about my best friend out in LA and all the crazy things we did as kids growing up. Someone compared us to a lion and a bear. Gypsy’s Lament went back and forth between Graham Nash and myself until we got the album’s version. He’s doing the backing vocals and the song has a real cool feeling. Magic Eyes and Untitled Road Song, Randy Meisner helped out on. He was great to work with.”

The album also has two chilling ballads, Song Long Overdue and Daughter of the Wind. Silver Lining, Tender Nights and Robin’s Song finish out as nicely crafted pieces involving lyrical storytelling.

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