On the Scene
A Concert for Greg
Musicians Against Violence benefit concert helps a community heal in the wake of sudden death
"Anything that could make noise, he could make it make music."
That's what Taylor Greenawalt remembers about his brother Greg as a kid. From those little plastic recorders they hand out in grade school to a saxophone to a guitar, Greg Greenawalt had a knack for all of them. He spent his 38 years devoted to music, here and in Los Angeles, playing mostly "his three-chord punk," says Taylor.
Greg was killed in the parking lot of an Albuquerque bar on Oct. 1 after an argument inside escalated. A man Taylor says his brother had never seen before shot Greg in the chest with a shotgun. The man accused of the shooting pleaded not guilty later that month. No date has been set for a trial.
Taylor was devastated by the news of his brother's death. "I didn't know what I could do for my brother," Taylor says. His first concern was that Greg's daughter, a freshman in high school, be cared for. Taylor broke the news to the local music community Greg was part of for 25 years, using the rock stations in town as a megaphone. They would have a small open mic jam, he announced, for Greg's daughter, "to get her some college money and make sure she wouldn't be stuck in life."
The calls and e-mails started coming in. Local musicians rallied. Everyone wanted to lend their support and play the show. With the help of Greg's bandmate, Dave Rellik, and Greg's girlfriend, Dena Perea, Musicians Against Violence was born, culminating in a seven-stage, 43-band event. The proceeds will all go to Greg's daughter.
"It's saved my life. It really has," Taylor says. "My brother was everything to me. He was my business partner. We did everything together." He watched his brother perform with numerous bands over the years, including Straton Minx, Uncle Ant and Rellik. He'd seen him attend the Grove School of Music in Van Nuys, Calif., learn jazz with the best of them and emerge with his love for rock intact. He also worked with Greg on straw-bale construction, building energy-smart alternative houses, something he says Greg was really good at. "Pretty much when he died, I was lost and still partially am," says Taylor.
The concert is keeping Taylor on his feet. "As a healing process, this has helped me immensely. I'd probably be hiding in a corner right now instead of getting this done." To offset the violence of his brother's death, Taylor's invited Michael Johnson, a self-defense instructor, to talk between bands about how to keep yourself out of trouble.
Things have been hard for Taylor, and it's not over. There were a lot of times when the benefit concert looked like it wasn't going to happen, he says. "Through the grace of God, that's what I can say, through the grace of God and my brother's spirit, everything has finally panned out," he says.
"I just want to tell him goodbye."