Greyboy Allstars: the greatest band that never was

Members add scores for feature films and performing with the Rolling Stones to their repertoire

Greyboy Allstars
  • Greyboy Allstars

Maybe with a little more planning, the upcoming Greyboy Allstars show could have been hyped differently.

“I guess it is our 25th anniversary, isn’t it,” says keyboardist Robert Walter about his funk/soul/jazz quintet. “Maybe we should have made a bigger deal out of it.”

Back when local indie bands were getting signed to national recording contracts and San Diego was being hyped as the “next Seattle,” an underground scene-within-a-scene was thriving at an East Village dive bar on F Street called the Green Circle. In 1993, DJ Greyboy (Andreas Stevens) put together a band to back him on his “acid jazz” Wednesday night.

The Greyboys broke up in 1998 but regrouped in 2006 and now play 10 to 20 shows a year. They need to arrange their shows around sax player Karl Denson, who replaced the late Bobby Keyes in the Rolling Stones three years ago, and guitarist Michael Andrews, aka Elgin Park (the Origin), who has become an in-demand composer creating soundtracks from Donnie Darko to Bridesmaids, Walk Hard, and some 20 other scores for feature films and TV series.

“DJ Greyboy just wanted a band to back him up while he played records,” says Denson about that Wednesday night event. “We did some European tours, but as I say, we were the greatest band that never was.”

At present, Denson is hanging at his home in Encinitas while working on his other project, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, which is releasing its seventh record next year. “I did it at Audio Design on El Cajon Boulevard, which has sort of become my homebase studio.”

Past Event

The Greyboy Allstars

  • Sunday, October 14, 2018, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Centre, 1205 Auto Parkway, Escondido
  • $35 - $129

The Greyboy Allstar show in Escondido includes original keyboardist Robert Walter. “Mike [Andrews] went on to do movies and me and Robert went on to form our own bands. But we always knew we had something special, so we kept coming back to play together.” Locals Chris Stillwell (bass) and Aaron Redfield (drums) round out the modern Greyboy Allstars.

Denson makes it clear he won’t give up day his gig which is playing with the biggest rock ‘n’ roll band on the planet. He says he’s heard that he will be called on to go on another Rolling Stones tour that kicks off late Spring, 2019. In addition to the four key Rolling Stones, he is part of the ten-person touring entourage that includes two singers, two horn players, and a bassist.

“The Stones affords me a little more breathing room financially,” says Denson. “It’s helping me get my kids through college.” His coolest Stones date? “I think it was Buenos Aires. They were the most rabid. It was the craziest crowd I ever saw. They were way over the top. It was like a sporting event. From the day we got there, three days before the show, people were tailgating outside the hotel singing Rolling Stones songs on the streets. The cops sent them home at 1am, and they’d come back at, like, 7 in the morning and hang out and sing all day. At the show, the audience was louder than the band… Cuba was a close second.”

Keyboardist Walter was a member of Creedle, a part of SD’s 1990s Casbah/punk scene. He admits owing inspiration to jazzy keyboardist Brian Auger and to 1970s prog rock bands. He continues to release albums as a solo artist and with his band Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, which just released its fourth record, Spacesuit, on September 21. “My solo stuff is more acoustic piano. 20th Congress has more effects. It’s my rock band.”

Past Event

The Mattson 2

  • Sunday, October 7, 2018, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Centre, 1205 Auto Parkway, Escondido
  • $30 - $125

The Greyboy Allstars show October 14 and locals Mattson 2 show this Sunday, October 7, mark a reboot of sorts for the Centre at Lexus rooftop concerts in Escondido. The five-year-old series has traditionally focused on mainstream pop or pop-jazz artists like Ottmar Liebert and Chaka Kahn.

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