When he was 14, Gregory Page and his parents up and bolted from their London home in the middle of the night, for reasons he is still unsure of. They took off to San Diego, where his music career soon took root.
Page's mother was a singer in an all-girl group called The Beat Chicks, who, according to Page, opened twice for The Beatles in 1965. Obviously the music bug rubbed off on young Page, who, by his teenage years, was studying classical guitar. Since then, he has played in local legends The Rugburns, released numerous solo albums and has produced his fair share of records, as well.
When a rumor started making the rounds recently that Page would soon retire from music, it was hard to believe. For a man whose life has revolved around music for so many years, pulling the plug would seem akin to more than just career suicide. Lucky for his fans, it ain't gonna happen.
"That's a big ol' negative. No, I am not retiring from music," Page tells CityBeat. "I was just taking a break from recording so I could go out and do some promoting for a change.
"I have been recording albums for the past 10 years and I needed to take a break," he adds. "I had to do something drastic to shake it up for myself. I was just gonna take a break."
For creative singer-songwriter types such as Page, turning off the musical faucet seems especially difficult.
"I've never been able to actually physically turn off the music, so to speak, relax and maybe do something different-like pick up table tennis. I don't think that I've ever had a break, especially from recording. It's like having a girlfriend. You're never single; you always just have one person leading into the next."
Hanging it up musically seems drastic but never entirely out of the picture. Making a living in music requires a unique love for both the art and the lifestyle to keep it going. Plenty of people call it quits and get jobs in cubicles. Besides selling CDs on his website, Page continues to earn a living by playing his monthly gig at Lestat's, the occasional house party and maybe scoring an opening spot at one of the bigger clubs.
In the early-'90s Page frequented the original Poway-based Java Joe's, where Jewel made her initial mark.
Connecting with Jewel associate Steve Poltz led to a gig playing bass with The Rugburns, which lasted into the late-'90s.
Since then, Page has put out a collection of solo albums, with his latest, Bird in a Cage, written entirely in a cemetery in Melbourne, Australia. Listening to the songs, it doesn't exactly feel like a sunny, Southern California adventure; it feels like the work of an acoustic troubadour who likes to toss in elements of vaudeville, singing a collection of songs to an audience of the dead. Yet despite the setting, certain numbers on Bird in a Cage display Page's unique ability to balance humor and sadness. He credits Poltz for introducing him to the gift of comedy in song.
"He has been my mentor for knowing you can have fun with music," Page says. "You don't have to be serious. There are certain ways to tell a story without being so morose. I can get pretty morose. I do slant in the melancholia."
Page says that while he loves where he lives, it's sometimes hard to get into the musical mindset his lyrics often demand. This, coming from the guy who was once in a goth band before joining The Rugburns"San Diego is a real tough place to be creative," he explains. "We're so lucky to be able to go out and sit on the beach. To me, it's a hard place to create. The last three albums I have written while I was overseas. It's just a place where I'm not distracted. I don't have a cell phone with me . I don't have a blue sky."
Gregory Page plays Lestat's on Friday, Jan. 16, and Swedenborg Hall on Sunday, Jan. 18. www.gregorypage.com.