Fishman Artists

Greg Leisz

Fishman Artist // Greg Leisz

The word "ubiquitous" is usually placed in front of pedal steel player and guitarist Greg Leisz's name. With good reason — the man's resumé is daunting, boasting spots with Joni Mitchell, Sheryl Crow, Peter Case, Paul Westerberg, Me'Shell NdegeOcello, Victoria Williams, Joe Cocker, Dave Alvin, k.d. lang, Wilco, Lucinda Williams, Bruce Cockburn, Shawn Colvin, Paula Cole, and the name a few. Not to be pigeonholed in just roots music, Leisz (pronounced "Lees") has also played with the likes of Beck, Matthew Sweet, Bad Religion, the Smashing Pumpkins, and Brian Wilson.

Leisz spent his younger years catching acts like the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers in Southern California clubs. Part of his universal appeal — which certainly draws on the experimental nature of those influences — comes from an open-minded approach to lap and pedal steel, an approach that casts aside Nashville references. Leisz is also somewhat of a stylistic chameleon: You can't pin down a distinctive style for him because he chooses to serve and accompany a song rather than place his mark on it. His creativity and open-mindedness as a musician have allowed him a genre roving usually not accorded renowned steel players.

During the '90s, Leisz also began making a name for himself as a producer, helming releases by such folks as Rosie Flores, Dave Alvin, Tom Russell, and Lisa Mednick.

Leisz's playing has appeared throughout the years on recordings by Tiger Army, Bill Frisell, Dave Alvin, Tracy Chapman, The Smashing Pumpkins, Grant Lee Buffalo, Ray Lamontagne, Paula Cole, Matthew Sweet, The Jayhawks, Beck, Me'shell Ndegeocello, Bruce Cockburn, Wilco, Shawn Colvin, Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier, Peter Case, Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell, Whiskeytown, Girish, The Eagles, Bad Religion, k.d. lang, Sheryl Crow, Cass McCombs, John Fogerty, Natalie D-Napoleon, Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Joe Cocker, Amos Lee, Bon Iver, and Chuck Prophet to name just a few. Leisz appears on the The Bangles 2011 release, "Sweetheart of the Sun."