One of the legendary band Supertramp’s top songs ever is called, “Give a Little Bit.”
Well, Carl Verheyen gave more than a little — he gave a lot to that band and many others during his long career. His resume includes playing with musical greats like Christina Aguilara and John Fogerty, and for TV Shows like Seinfeld and movies like Star Trek.
Verheyen, known as one of the top guitarists of all-time, will be performing at Lynwood Center at the Treehouse Cafe Sept. 5 from 7-9 p.m. Reserved table seating is $35 but the show is nearly sold out.
The performance is part of Verheyen’s West Coast swing. He said the performance will be different than a show designed for a big stage.
“We mess around, we play some country tunes and some Grateful Dead tunes, then we’ll play a jazz song,” he said. “We really have fun moving between genres. It’s almost like stress-relief in a way because everyone’s having such a great time doing that. People really dig it. Sometimes the greatest music is the stuff you don’t rehearse.”
On this tour, Verheyen will be playing many venues for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. During the lockdown, he and his band have been recording new music and released an album called Sundial — a combination of rock, blues, funk and even ska.
Verheyen has released 15 of his own CDs. His current bandmates include Bernie Dresel (Brian Setzer’s longtime drummer), bassist Dave Marotta (Phil Collins, Neil Diamond, Gino Vanelli) and keyboard player/guitarist Troy Dexter (Wilson Phillips).
After Verheyen finishes his tour, he will be headed to Europe for a five-week tour barring any setbacks from the pandemic.
Start with Supertramp
Verheyen became involved with Supertramp after frontman Roger Hudson left the band in 1983. Hudson was known for his philosophical lyrics and high-pitched voice on songs like “Goodbye Stranger,” “Take the Long Way Home,” “Breakfast in America” and many more.
While recalling his Supertramp days, Verheyen said at his audition he told the band he didn’t have time to learn any of their songs. To his surprise, the English band told him: “We don’t want to play any of our bloody songs. Let’s play the blues.”
Verheyen immediately toured with the band on its 1985-86 world tour, a workload that he hadn’t done before. “It was immediately a big batch of work to do,” he said. “I went from playing 30-40 people a night to 20,000.”
“The whole direction of the band changed,” Verheyen went on to say. “For those first couple of tours, we actually didn’t do any of Roger’s songs. That was a different kind of vibe. I’m sure people wanted to hear Roger’s songs but no one seemed to be leaving.”
In 1996, Rick Davies reformed Supertramp and added Verheyen as a formal band member. Davies was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, which caused the band to cancel its 2015 tour. Davies is doing better, but Verheyen said it is unlikely the band will ever perform again.
“Rick Davies has always been sort of a mentor to me, even though he denies it,” Verheyen said. “The integrity of their presentation and performance never wavered. It would always be as good as it could be.”
While perhaps being best known for his years in Supertramp, Verheyen has had a greater impact on the music industry with other ventures as a studio session player and music teacher.
Recognized as “One of the World’s Top 10 Guitarists” by Guitar Magazine and “One of the Top 100 Guitarists of All Time” by Classic Rock magazine, Verheyen has created a multi-faceted career. In addition to his solo work as an acclaimed musician, vocalist, songwriter, arranger and educator, Verheyen was Supertramp’s lead guitarist for three-plus decades and has more than 1,000 soundtrack credits on many of the most popular TV shows and movies of all time.
“I will not specialize, I’ll be good at everything,” Verheyen said about his diversity of music. “New genres and new styles are born due to that cross pollinization. Most kinds of music are moving forward. That became a great calling card for studio work.”
He’s done it all
Verheyen’s 50 plus years of solo, band and studio guitar work have progressed to where hardly a day goes by that anyone with access to music, movies or TV doesn’t hear him. Verheyen provided the guitar behind some of the most-popular TV shows (Frasier, Cheers, Happy Days, LA Law, Married with Children, among others) and movies (The Usual Suspects, Ratatouille, The Negotiator, hundreds more) of all time. In addition to Supertramp, he has performed and recorded with music giants, ranging from BB King to Cher, Brad Paisley,The Bee Gees and many others.
“I’ve done thousands of recording sessions,” he said. “On those sessions, you’re sort of expected to know how to play not only electric guitar, acoustic guitar, 12 string, baritone guitar, but you’re expected to play the Dobro (slide guitar), classical nylon string guitar, mandolin, banjo and charango.”
“Generally, for a movie or TV show, you’re reading music,” Verheyen went on to say. “The composers (wrote) out everything you need to do.
“When you’re doing a record you’re more called upon to come up with parts. It’s a big difference but it’s all really fun.”
He even provided one-on-one guitar lessons for John Fogerty of CCR fame.
“He was turning 50, and he wanted to be a better guitar player,” Verheyen said. “It was fun because John Fogerty wanted to learn everything. We did two to three lessons a week for a long time.”
Verheyen was also a featured soloist at the Academy Awards, playing live to a TV audience of more than 67 million.
“I’ve done it a few times in the orchestra but one time they came and said we need you to play a version of Moon River down at the front of the stage while we introduce movies,” he said. “Literally, I could reach out with my foot and touch Meryl Streep and Penelope Cruz — all these movie stars.”