Higher Hands are poised to reintroduce themselves. From the Kennedy Center in DC to the Bowery Ballroom in NYC, the band has been on their grind, burning up stages throughout the Mid-Atlantic with the likes of Trombone Shorty, The New Mastersounds, and the late Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown. Hailing from Maryland’s capital city, the band has firmly established their reputation throughout the DMV for a tight live set and an ability to improvise with the best.
He's the talker y'all. And he plays a mean tambourine.
Larry started playing the piano in 1983 at the tender age of 3. After a visit to the movies for the debut of “Return of the Jedi,” Larry came home and played some melodies he remembered from the film. His parents immediately signed him up for piano lessons.
He would eventually study with renowned pianist John Beyers in Baltimore. Together they worked through the certificate program of the American College of Musicians, and in 2003 Larry won first prize in the Hinda Honickman competition with a performance of Beethoven’s Sonata op. 57, the “Appasionata.” Beyers (and hence Byrne) is able to trace his teaching lineage back to the great Franz Liszt via Mieczyslaw Munz, Feruccio Busoni, and Carl Reinecke. The repertoire included Romantic era concertos, and many of the most difficult pieces by the Polish composer Frederic Chopin, and of course plenty of Liszt! In addition to the ACM certificates, Larry earned an Associates of Fine Arts in Music in 2006.
In his teens the world of jazz was introduced to him by DC based pianist Bill Holland. He then began working out tunes by Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul, Miles Davis, and Jimmy Smith. Once you start down the path of jazz, the pre-determined path disappears and you are free to walk wherever you please.
His first professional gig was at the Acme Bar & Grille in Annapolis on a Wednesday night in 1994 at the age of 13, playing saxophone, guitar, and piano. Larry played sax, Rhodes, and percussion with rock fusion group Jepetto from 1997-2001. He found world music through the Carambola Party Band which specializes in reggae, zydeco, and latin music. From 2004-2007 his main project was the eclectic hiphop group Written Prisms, infusing conscious hiphop with tastes of jazz and rock. These days you can catch him on keys (with left hand basslines) as one fifth of the mighty Higher Hands, delivering funk and soul with more than a few surprises. He also sings and plays guitar, banjo, and mandolin with his family trio, performing swing tunes, Bossa Nova, gypsy jazz, and American and Irish folk music.
Larry began teaching music in 2000, and is currently employed as concert director, and multi-instrument instructor at the School of Rock Annapolis.
It all began with a Casio keyboard in the 80’s. Marty (aka Skels) couldn’t play a lick on keys, but always gravitated towards the drum pads on the keyboard. At age 12, he took it to the next phase and started playing the drum set. As a child of deaf parents, he was able to play host to countless jam sessions and band practices growing up. These sessions gave him an opportunity to learn how to play a wide variety of styles, as well as a chance to focus on writing original music.
While in high school, Marty discovered the world of jazz music and the game changed. It was through jazz that he developed a love for the art of improvisation and was introduced to some musical heavyweight’s that would go on to become some of his biggest influences.
Marty’s professional playing career began with the Groove Killers (funk-jazz), an instrumental outfit with a heavy focus on improvisation. During his tenure with the GK’s, he also became a member of the Niki Barr Band (pop rock), with whom he toured internationally and played on the album The Other Side Of Me. Marty’s departure from the NBB landed him a role with the D.C based duo Zwei (r&b), where he would go on to perform countless gigs and record the album 2’sday Night. Marty also recorded some tunes with Sol Edler (Zwei bandmate) for his album Songs of Solomon. In 2004, Marty joined forces with the Written Prisms (hip-hop/funk/jazz). The band performed extensively up and down the east coast and recorded the album Ellipsis, prior to disbanding in 2007. As one of the founding members of the group Higher Hands (funk/soul/fusion), Marty has been funkifying the world one groove at a time (2007-present).
Troy Atkins holds a Master of Music in Jazz/Commercial Performance from Towson University, and a Bachelor of Music from East Carolina University. He is a working musician who performs and records multiple styles of music in numerous venues throughout the Baltimore/DC area. His other duties include teaching saxophone at Mike's Music in Ellicott City, MD, as well as a guest saxophonist at multiple churches in the Baltimore City area.
Grigs has been a funk junky since first hearing the James Brown Live At The Apollo Volume III recording when he was a child. Ever since hearing this, funk has been one of his favorite four letter words. Growing up, R&B, soul, and funk music was often played in his house and further planted his roots in rhythm and groove. Upon entering 7th grade, one of his brothers introduced him to a style of music known as “Go-Go”. It immediately captured his love of percussion and improv jams and influenced him to mimic the sounds he heard –especially the conga sounds. As a teen, he played in his first band and also began to listen to hip hop, latin, jazz, reggae, rock and electronica styles of music. As an adult playing in various bands, he crossed paths with Annapolis Md. funksters Higher Hands in 2008. In 2010 he became their percussionist and is able to use his many influences to fit Higher Hands’ funky, soulful, versatile sound.