UPDATED: September 14, 2016
Tony Gerber is a musician, songwriter, graphic artist, humanitarian, computer geek, husband, father, and one of my most valued friends. I lived in Nashville for a year or two between Washington DC and Jamaica. While in Nashville, I met an amazing group of songwriters, artists, authors, musicians, singers, filmmakers and some of the most gifted people I’ve ever known. None stood out more than Tony Gerber.This Cotton Blossom Band promo clip was shot by Patrick Sheehan during their debut album release concert on February 2, 2014. Tony has performed in dozens of bands over the years, but one of my favorites is the Cotton Blossom Band. This short promo piece in the video illustrates the best of space blues.
I remember when I was preparing to move to Jamaica in 1988. Back then, WWW sounded like some championship wrestling nonsense, but Tony was already locked-in on the information highway. He told me in October 1988 that the information highway was on its way and would change the world perhaps more than anything before.
The concept blew my mind, and I spent more than a little time in Jamaica considering the ramifications. The idea of typing a letter and pushing a send button, and it arriving on the other side of the world in a matter of a second or two, yeah that got my attention and stirred my imagination. Tony was quick to point out that emails would be just one of the benefits of the information highway.
Gerber told me that the real benefit of the information highway was just that; information. Tony spoke with passion; his long hair flew wild, his arms illustrated one thing and then the next. “Jerry, this is going to be the biggest thing ever.”
Still trying to wrap my arms around the concept, I half-joked: “Bigger than the invention of farming and fire?”
Tony gazed off into his thoughts for several seconds, gulped a large pocket of air, held it for several seconds before he exhaled in a strong burst. “I think so. At the very least, it’s that kind of breakthrough.”
Holy shit, I thought. Bigger than the invention of fire and farming. Had it come from a less trusted source, I might have thought Tony was either pulling my leg or full of crap. I already knew Gerber well enough to know he wasn’t the type to mislead or make claims he couldn’t back up.
How excited was Tony about the coming of the information highway? Let’s put it this way; he’s had way more exciting moments than most people, but–other than his family–I doubt anything has excited him as much since, at least until Bernie Sanders lately. Since the rise of Bernie, count activist among Tony’s vast resume. I salute his willingness to fight the fight every single day.
TONY PERFORMS PLANETARIUM MUSIC
If you love planetariums, you’ve probably already heard Tony Gerber’s music. Tony composed and performed the music soundtrack for the Sudekum Planetarium-produced planetarium show. Science. Space. Tony Gerber music. A first-class planetarium. That’s a powerful combinaton.
If you’re checking out these videos, you probably understand why I consider Tony one of my more interesting friends. Tony is always involved in some great project. This next video is a great example.
TONY GERBER WORKS WITH NASA SCIENTIST FRED BECKER
Tony collaborated with NASA scientist and Inner Stellar creator Fred Becker in this amazing show at Irving Theatre in Indianapolis. Michael O’Bannon provided the spectacular computer graphics displayed on the screen. The following video provides a half hour sampling of what the audience experienced live.
Tony and I’ve never spent a great deal of time around each other, but I think he’d agree our time has always been quality time. Art. Music. Books. History. Films. Philosophy. Humanitarianism. We share a lot of the same passions; enough so that we probably wouldn’t talk about the weather if a tornado were ripping through the neighborhood. Heck, in some of our conversations, we’ve even been guilty of conspiring to figure out the great human problems.
WE SHARE A DRIVE
Intellectually, philosophically and morally, Tony is passionate. My most valued friends try to milk the most out of this life. They chase their dreams and live the moment. My most treasured friends become who they can be, not who others attempt to shape them. Like all the other friends who fascinate me the most, Tony is true to himself.
COTTON BLOSSOM BAND PERFORMING ON MANDO BLUE RADIO SHOW
Multi-instrumentalist Tony Gerber and the Cotton Blossom Band performed this bluesy piece live on WRFN in Nashville, Tennessee.
I know some great musicians, including some international artists from Jamaica, but I’ve yet to meet a musician more talented than Tony. He’s one the great individuals carrying the torch of life today. He’s a doer, creator, innovator, and thinker who has cleared his own path.
DON’T COMPARE SPACECRAFT TO PINK FLOYD
I only remember making Tony frown twice in nearly three decades. One time was during the brewing national economic crisis when investors pulled out of a film project we were well into pre-production. Several years earlier, I heard Spacecraft the first time. To my ignorant ears, they sounded a little like some Pink Floyd instrumentals. Although I considered it a compliment, I could not have turned Tony’s face more sour had I shoved a lemon in his mouth.
Tony’s face twisted, and he sized me up as I might had just beamed in from some far-off galaxy where the residents are tone deaf. Words rose in his throat, and he chewed, rather than articulate. He shook back and forth in protest of my great error. His forehead squeezed and his thick eyelashes rose. “That’s what some people say, but we don’t sound like Pink Floyd.” He chuckled and allowed my digression to pass without further comment.
AN ORIGINAL PATH
When many of Tony’s music friends were heading down more traditional paths, Tony chose a more original one. I didn’t even know there was space music, but here Tony was composing and performing it. Realizing that my intended compliment had turned my friend green, I apologized.
Tony was right. Spacecraft didn’t sound much like Pink Floyd. For me, Spacecraft was so original that I didn’t have anything to reference. My big mistake was trying to put a label on it or compare it to something else. If you follow the history of Spacecraft and Tony Gerber, you’ll see what I mean. Tony is one of the most original artists in the world. His music and gentle nature have touched souls worldwide.
TONY GERBER WITH SPACECRAFT AT ELECTRO-MUSIC FESTIVAL
This next video is Spacecraft performing at the 2008 Electro-Music Festival. The electronic space music group includes Tony Gerber, John Rose, and Diane Timmons-Rose. Spacecraft still gets together to play and to record new albums.
IT’S ONLY FITTING
Ironically, this small little tribute to Tony will be seen by people all over the world as part of the information highway that he was aboard before the first noisy, slow external commercial modem was even built.
Tony is one of the most gifted musicians, graphic designers and computer wizards that I know, but he embraced the internet before Al Gore even invented it. That left a lasting impression on me.
In this next video, Tony performs a solo piece.Tony Gerber breaks out his Takamine electro accoustic 6-string guitar to perform Fairewood Lane as part of his solo acoustic guitar series.
I can say without a doubt the world is better because Tony Gerber is in it. This small tribute covers just a small part of Tony’s remarkable career and life. I highly encourage you to follow the link below to purchase Tony’s music and to learn much more about this gifted artist and human.
Thanks Tony for being somebody who makes the world a little better. Much respect to the artist and man that you’ve become. I love the Johnny Cash bad boy look in the closing photo. Thanks for being you!
BUY MUSIC http://tonygerber.bandcamp.com
Jerry Beller – author
This tribute to Tony is part of a series where I honor my amazing friends. I’ve been blessed to meet people from all walks. Stay tuned for their remarkable stories.