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In the space of a career that has spanned four decades, Greg Humphreys has established himself as a singer, guitarist, songwriter, and bandleader whose talents have won him a loyal cult following and whose stylistic reach embraces indie rock, pop, R&B, jazz, and acoustic music.
Born and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Humphreys grew up in a family that encouraged creativity -- his mother was an art teacher, and his father was an attorney who performed with a folk group in his spare time. Humphreys took up the guitar in his teens, and when he was in 10th grade, he teamed up with classmate Chris Goode to play a cover of the Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" at a school talent show. Humphreys and Goode performed under the name the Trash; they went over well enough that they would evolve into a real band.
By 1988, Humphreys and Goode had broken up the Trash and formed Dillon Fence, a jangly alternative rock band whose sound reflected the influence of fellow Southerners the dB's, Let's Active, and R.E.M. In 1992, Dillon Fence released their debut album, Rosemary, and the band would cut two more albums and become a popular live act in the South before folding their tent in 1995. (The group would reunite to cut a concert album, Live at the Cat's Cradle, in 2001, as well as a handful of new tunes for a 2004 best-of collection.) In 1996, Humphreys and Andy Ware (who played bass in the final lineup of Dillon Fence) teamed up with drummer Steve Hill to form Hobex, a band whose approach was more strongly rooted in soul, R&B, and funk. Hobex scored a major-label deal for their debut album, 1998's Back in the 90's, but while the group had strong regional success, they never scored a major commercial breakthrough, and Humphreys began to tire of the constant touring that came with being in a band. After the release of Enlightened Soul in 2007, Humphreys put Hobex on hold, and divided his time between playing acoustic music with local folk and bluegrass artists and working behind the scenes as an engineer and soundman with the Music Maker Foundation.
In 2008, Humphreys released his solo debut, Trunk Songs, a low-key acoustic set dominated by songs Humphreys had written but not recorded during his years with Dillon Fence and Hobex. Humphreys returned in 2010 with Realign Your Mind, another acoustic set steeped in folk, pop, bluegrass, and jazz influences. 2011's People You May Know was a similarly eclectic set which followed Humphreys' passion for jazz and R&B. In 2012, after nearly a quarter-century as a key figure in the North Carolina music scene, he left his home to relocate in New York City after falling in love with a woman who lived in the Big Apple. Humphreys' 2013 album, Bohemia, showed that life in his new home hadn't changed his musical outlook much, though he began playing electric guitar again and would assemble a new combo, the Greg Humphreys Electric Trio, featuring two transplanted Southerners, bassist Matt Brandau and drummer Keith Robinson. In 2014, the Trio released a four-song EP, Cosmic Irony. A richer sampling of the Electric Trio's genre-bending approach was heard on Rock at Live Wood, a concert recording from a show at New York's Rockwood Music Hall. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi