Greg has given many listeners their first taste of The Chapman Stick. This innovative
electric stringed instrument employs the Free Hands two-handed tapping method created
by Stick inventor and builder Emmett Chapman in the late 60's. Each hand plays its own
part on the strings, tapping and holding notes independently for a full keyboard-like
style, but with all the expressiveness and timbral colorations of a stringed instrument.
Bass, melody, counterpoint and chords are all simultaneously possible in the hands of one
With over two thousand performances in front of diverse audiences (jazz and rock festivals,
concerts and clubs, college music series, live radio concerts, street performances) and
twelve recordings under his belt, Greg has made the instrument his own. His repertoire
includes dozens of original compositions, as well as a wide array of material from the
Renaissance through jazz and The Beatles and contemporary rock, but his forte is his
improvisation. He'll often launch into a spontaneous composition only to make a surprise
landing in a piece by Miles Davis or Brazilian composer Luis Bonfa. Greg was born and
raised in the Washington, D.C. area. Though he has resided briefly in Los Angeles and
Santa Fe, New Mexico, Charlottesville, Virginia, has been his home since 1982, where he
received his B.A. in English from The University of Virginia in 1986.
Originally a keyboardist and saxophonist, and always an improviser, Greg began making
improvisational recordings at age fourteen. He picked up his first Stick in 1985 at the
age of twenty, and quickly immersed himself in his new instrument. Greg's music is a
product of the Charlottesville, Virginia music scene, which included a strong jazz and
improvisational movement driven by musicians like trumpeter John D'earth and guitarist
Tim Reynolds, as well as spawning the Dave Matthews Band, with whom Greg collaborated
on several occasions on stage and in the studio. Greg and Tim released several
improvisational recordings under the name of "Sticks and Stones", and the "groove poetry"
trio Code Magenta featured Greg on Stick and synths with vocalist Dawn Thompson and the
late DMB saxophonist Leroi Moore, releasing Code Magenta in 1995. In 2014 Greg released
AZUL, a live studio improvisation with D'earth and drummer Brian Caputo.
Recently, Greg has been performing with singer/songwriter Peyton Tochterman. Greg also
performs frequently with percussionist Darrell Rose. In 1999 the duo released a live
concert video (Handiwork, Volume One), and Rose was a featured performed on Greg's Shapes
and Sol CDs. In 1999, he formed the Greg Howard Band, which released Lift and had three
tours in the US in 2000. As a soloist, Greg has released three CDs, including Stick Figures,
a defining work of solo Stick composition and performance, and two live improvisational
CDs, Water on the Moon (1998) and Ether Ore (2005) Greg is an active teacher of Chapman's
Free Hands method, having written two books on playing The Stick (The Stick Book™, volume 1,
1997, and The Greg Howard Songbook, 2009) and having taught dozens of Stick seminars around
North America, Europe and Japan, as well as teaching at the Interlochen Center for the Arts
and the Unversity of Virginia, where he is on the Performance Faculty. He is also an active
writer on the subject of The Stick and the Free Hands method, with articles published in
Progression and Bass Frontiers Magazines, and on the stick.com website.