Greg Leisz

The word "ubiquitous" is usually placed in front of pedal steel player and guitarist Greg Leisz's name. With good reason -- the man's resumé is daunting, boasting spots with Joni Mitchell, Sheryl Crow, Peter Case, Paul Westerberg, Me'Shell NdegeOcello, Victoria Williams, Joe Cocker, Dave Alvin, k.d. lang, Wilco, Lucinda Williams, Bruce Cockburn, Shawn Colvin, Paula Cole, and the Ventures...to name a few. Not to be pigeonholed in just roots music, Leisz (pronounced "Lees") has also played with the likes of Beck, Matthew Sweet, Bad Religion, the Smashing Pumpkins, and Brian Wilson.

Leisz spent his younger years catching acts like the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers in Southern California clubs. Part of his universal appeal -- which certainly draws on the experimental nature of those influences -- comes from an open-minded approach to lap and pedal steel, an approach that casts aside Nashville references. Leisz is also somewhat of a stylistic chameleon: You can't pin down a distinctive style for him because he chooses to serve and accompany a song rather than place his mark on it. His creativity and open-mindedness as a musician have allowed him a genre roving usually not accorded renowned steel players.

During the '90s, Leisz also began making a name for himself as a producer, helming releases by such folks as Rosie Flores, Dave Alvin, Tom Russell, and Lisa Mednick.

Another close collaborator is Bill Frisell, with whom he tours regularly and is featured on the albums Good Dog, Happy ManBlues DreamThe IntercontinentalsDisfarmer, and All We Are Saying.

In January 2008, he joined the group Works Progress Administration – a band composed of Leisz, Sean Watkins(guitar), his sister Sara Watkins (fiddle), Glen Phillips (guitar, vocals), Benmont Tench (piano), Luke Bulla (fiddle),Pete Thomas (drums), and Davey Faragher (bass). The group released their debut album, WPA, on September 15, 2009.

In 2010, Leisz was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist by the Americana Music Association.

He received a Grammy Award for his contributions to Ray LaMontagne's 2010 release, God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise. In 2010 and 2011, Leisz toured with LaMontagne as a member of his backing band, The Pariah Dogs.

Leisz toured in 2013 as a member of Eric Clapton's band.

Leisz toured in 2015 as a member of Jackson Browne's band.

 

Please note: Biographies on the CSO website are based on the information that was most recently provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on the artists' own websites or those of their representatives.