Easton, Pennsylvania's Greg Howe was a breath of fresh air amidst the seemingly never-ending stream of harmonic minor guitar virtuosos pouring forth from the Shrapnel Records label in the late '80s. While other post-Yngwie Malmsteen players of the "shred guitar" genre were pursuing the dramatic neo-classical vein, Howe brought a sense of funk and groove to the table that was sorely needed. Howe paid his dues playing the Easton/Allentown club circuit in the '80s with the band Duke, featuring his brother Al on lead vocals. When one of his instrumental demos grabbed the ear of talent scout and Shrapnel Records owner Mike Varney, Howe was signed to the Shrapnel label in 1987.
His all-instrumental debut, Greg Howe, featuring the talents of Billy Sheehan and Atma Anur on bass and drums, respectively, was released in 1988, to considerable acclaim. Howe's second album, High Gear, released under the moniker Howe 2, was less a solo album than a Van Halen-styled band effort, featuring his brother Al Howe on lead vocals. The band broke up after releasing its more commercially minded follow-up, Now Hear This, in 1990 and Howe returned to making all-instrumental albums in his home studio, taking a decidedly more fusion-styled direction.
Howe released Introspection in 1993 and Uncertain Terms in 1994 and has continued to produce albums at a prolific rate since then. Aside from releasing Parallax and Five in 1995 and 1996, respectively, Howe collaborated with fellow Pennsylvania virtuoso and Shrapnel labelmate Richie Kotzen on the Tilt album in 1995 and again on 1997's Project. His last Shrapnel album, Ascend, was released in 1999, followed by his debut on the Tone Center label, Hyperacuity, released in 2000.
Outside of his solo career, Greg Howe is also a sought-after sideman who has toured with the likes of Michael Jackson and N'Sync. In 2003, he guested on Indian fusion guitarist Prashant Aswani's Duality, and released his own trio date Extraction with bassist Victor Wooten and drummer Dennis Chambers. Howe spent the next four years touring and playing on other's projects including Jordan Rudess's Rhythm of Time, Tetsuo Sakurai's live Gentle Hearts Tour 2004 and Laura Pausini's Io Canto. Howe released the acclaimed Sound Proof in 2008 with bassist Jon Reshard, drummer Gianluca Palmieri, and David Cook on keyboards. He also guested on prog-metal band Martone's Clean along with guitarist Jennifer Batten.
Over the next four years, Howe went back to studio work and being a hired gun for various tours. He was part of former Roxy Music violinist Eddie Jobson's The Ultimate Zero Project on Come Back UK, guitarist Ethan Brosh's Out of Oblivion (both 2009), as well as Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson: Immortal (2011). In 2013, Howe formed the rock band Maragold and produced their self-titled album. His bandmates included vocalist Meghan Krauss, drummer Gianluca Palmieri, and bassist Kevin Vecchione. After doing road work with a variety of musicians, Howe returned to the studio in 2017, emerging with the album Wheelhouse. Centering on shredding instrumentals, its lone vocal track, "Shady Lane," featured Richie Kotzen (Winery Dogs, Mr. Big) singing and adding a guitar solo. -- Andy Hinds
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