Free Flowing Musical Experience
Free Flowing Musical Experience
“Alexandria’s Legendary Acoustic Jam Band”
“Alexandria’s Legendary Acoustic Jam Band”
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Scott Fallon, Gregg Park, and John David Coppola make up the interactive musical adventure known as The Free Flowing Musical Experience, “Alexandria’s Legendary Acoustic Jam Band.” The “Relix Magazine Jam Off” award winners aim to capture the diversity of their influences and expand upon each song as an improvisational journey into what can be found on the other end. Rock, folk, country, blues, jazz, and original material is what makes up the Free Flowing Musical Experience catalog. With close to 5000 Facebook fans, FFME has become a regular at some of the area’s most legendary clubs, including The Birchmere, The State Theatre, & The BrightBox Theatre.
For over thirty years Scott Fallon has been a performing musician entertaining audiences throughout the DC/Metro area, nationally, and internationally. Scott has played thousands of shows encompassing bars, clubs, weddings, corporate events, and music festivals. In doing so he has developed and maintained positive relationships with club owners, patrons, and the local musician community. Scott is recognized as one of the Northern Virginia area’s most respected musicians. Scott has shared the stage and spotlight with renowned artists such as Warren Haynes of Govt. Mule and George Porter of The Funky Meters. He has also performed with bands such as Better Than Ezra, The Nighthawks, to regional acts such as The All Mighty Senators and The Billy Walton Band.
Gregg Park has been a student of music and the guitar for his entire life as known throughout the local music community as one of its best guitarists. His diversity of musical tastes is reflected in his resonant and complex guitar style. Over the course of 30 years Gregg has steadily evolved musically by studying and performing in many types of bands reflective of his influences. From his early days in Heavy Metal and Classic Rock bands to other diverse projects such as Gospel, Country, Variety (dance), Oldies, Acoustic duos and trios. Whether performing with Scott Fallon in the Free Flowing Musical Experience, with Gary Thomas of The Road Ducks, Gregg’s energy as a musician is infectious. Gregg has developed an affinity and talent for capturing the style and essence of the guitar players he grew up listening to while allowing his personal touch to echo through each beautifully improvised phrase.
A native Washingtonian, John David Coppola began his musical career at age 7 on keyboards and accordion. In high school he began studying electric and double bass and hasn’t looked back since. John's been a mainstay on the local music circuit, performing in dozens of local bands - for live performances, and as a session player. Career highlights include opening for Pat Travers and Tony Levin, performing for Oprah, Mary Tyler Moore, & Bono, providing a bass lesson for Francis Ford Coppola, and a two-year/300 show international tour with surf guitar master Danny Morris, & “The Danny Morris Band.“ John is also very humbled to have played a show with legendary guitarist Tom Principato, and “The Tom Principato Band.” Now with FFME, the music never stops...
VIP Alexandria Magazine
“Free Flowing Musical Experience (FFME) Live at The Birchmere”
By Kellie Gunderman
Photography by Victoria Mance
December 2, 2020
It’s not often that Alexandria’s legendary acoustic Jam band performs at Alexandria’s legendary music venue, but that’s exactly what happened on October 24th. The Free Flowing Musical Experience took the stage at The Birchmere for an incredible night that was dedicated to local music fans.
Alexandria resident and local music fan, Christian Jock, told VIP, “This was a dream night for local music fans. I’ve been going to FFME shows for years. To see them at my favorite venue was about as good as it gets.”
Alexandria’s Gregg Park and Scott Fallon make up the interactive musical adventure known as The Free Flowing Musical Experience. This marked the critically acclaimed band’s second performance at the renowned music venue since its re-opening. At the Birchmere they were joined on acoustic bass with their new band member, John David Coppola. Coppola opens up the deep end of the pool for the band’s eclectic spectrum. This creates an entirely new and exciting element for the ears of the band’s growing fan base.
“We brought some serious jam to The Birchmere,” said Coppola. “What I’ve learned since joining the band is that the free flowing part of the band name is about as true as it gets. Playing with Gregg and Scott has truly been an enlightening experience musically.”
In music circles, the reputation of the Birchmere is legendary. For over 50 years the Birchmere has been the go to venue for the countries best acts and most devoted music fans. In addition, the Birchmere also takes their COVID precautions the next level to ensure a fun and safe environment for its guests.
Added Coppola, “It speaks to just what an outstanding venue The Birchmere is and always has been. They go the extra mile for their guests at every level.”
The Zebra Press
“The Free Flowing Musical Experience Play the Birchmere, Saturday, Oct. 24th”
By Kevin Dauray
October 14, 2020
ALEXANDRIA, VA – Renowned Alexandria band The Free Flowing Musical Experience will play Alexandria’s legendary venue, The Birchmere, on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 7:30 PM.
Guitarists Gregg Park and Scott Fallon are Joined by new bassist (and Zebra photographer) John David Coppola in only the band’s second performance on The Birchmere stage. Coppola, who will set foot on the hallowed stage for the first time, adds a new dimension to the band for their energizing sets. They are known for having an eclectic repertoire.
“It truly is a pleasure to have the opportunity to perform with Gregg and Scott,” said Coppola. “They take their craft very seriously and the three-piece combination really helps us expand each night as musicians. Having the opportunity to bring this to The Birchmere is very exciting. In my opinion, it’s the best live music venue in the country.”
The Birchmere has stood for more than 50 years, welcoming the likes of Keb Mo and The Dave Matthews Band in past years.
Alexandria Gazette Packet
“With Local Jam Band... the Song Never Remains the Same”
By Cody Mello-Klein
June 27, 2019
To call the Free Flowing Musical Experience a cover band is to deny the thought and talent that goes into each of the band’s creative, fluid performances.
Over the past three and a half years, the acoustic jam-band duo has stitched together setlists with musicianship, creativity and humor. While every performance features a rotating repertoire of recognizable covers, the band’s improvisational style of transitioning from one song to the next ensures no gig is the same as the last.
The nucleus of this elastic, improvisational band is Scott Fallon and Gregg Park. The two local guitarists and vocalists met in 2016 through a mutual musician friend. Park ended up sitting in on one of Fallon’s solo shows, which led to more performances, including a five-and-a-half-hour show at O’Shaughnessy’s Pub on King Street.
Recognizing the chemistry bubbling up between the two of them, Fallon decided to revive the Free Flowing Musical Experience, an idea he had first had in high school, with Park. The vision was to create an experience that was different every night, something that was playful and experimental, that could appeal to their wide-ranging tastes.
“It’s free flowing because we’ll do song to song to song,” Park said. “The majority of all gigs, we don’t really do sets. Scott’s great at sizing up a crowd, especially if we’re at a club … It’s really about the flow of one song to another.”
The duo has an ever-growing list of songs ranging from ‘70s rock classics and reggae vibes to psychedelic epics and traditional Irish foot-stompers.
“We have our base songs of what we’re going to do, but at the same time, where are we going to take these songs?” Fallon said. “The origin is kind of a jazz mentality … What are we going to come up with on the spot?”
Performances are freewheeling. Guitar riffs ricochet off one another, pushing and pulling at familiar songs and launching audiences on psychedelic journeys into the unknown.
“We never want to be that paint-by-numbers band,” Fallon said.
Part of the Free Flowing Musical Experience’s appeal is that it changes and evolves every show. Sometimes the band is performing Irish standards. Other times it transforms into a reggae or heavy metal band. Regardless of the genre, every performance still has the Free Flowing Musical Experience’s exploratory, jam band energy.
“When we’ve played Irish nights, we’ve taken traditional Irish songs and gone off on a tangent,” Park said.
“Instead of doing a song in G major, we’ll do ‘No Nay Never’ in G minor and then take it into a 14-minute psychedelic jam,” Fallon said. “It really blows the minds of the traditional Irish people in the bar.”
The band’s approach can alienate those in the audience who want just another performance of “Margaritaville” or “Brown Eyed Girl,” so the duo often plays for musicians just as much as it does general audiences.
“We always joke that we belong to the folded arms musicians’ club,” Fallon said, referring to the band’s half-in-jest goal of getting snobby musicians to unfold their arms and enjoy a performance.
In addition to the setlist, the lineup of guest musicians also changes from show to show, which dramatically alters the sound and chemistry of the band.
“You never know who might sit in from night to night,” Park said. “We’ve got some friends who are actually really good musicians who sit in with us from time and it creates a new flavor.”
One night could feature just Park and Fallon jamming out on acoustic guitars. The next night, they might be joined by a harmonica, keyboard or violin player. The band welcomes any musician who is keen to explore and play on stage.
Park and Fallon said the constant shift in setlists and lineups only works because of the solid foundation their talent and relationship provides.
“Someone said to us when we were backstage at Gypsy Sally’s … ‘Have you guys been friends your whole life? You seem like you’ve known each other your whole life,’” Park said. “And I go, ‘No, we’ve been friends for almost four years, but I feel like I’ve known him my whole life.’”
The two share a snappy, sophomoric sense of humor, which often manifests onstage in between songs, Park said. But, most importantly for the Free Flowing Musical Experience, they share an undeniable chemistry onstage.
Park and Fallon bring contrasting yet complementary skills to the table. Fallon’s steady timing and rhythm create a backdrop for Park’s virtuosic soloing.
“[Scott] creates a rock base of things and I’m the person who messes it up,” Park said. “I shift it forward, and I shift it back. I push it and pull it, but I really couldn’t do it without that reliability.”
“It’s easy to throw [Gregg] things and he’ll pick [them] up,” Fallon said. “Like I always say, when you have the caliber of guitarist that Gregg is, my job in the band is to throw up balls for Gregg to hit.”
The Alexandria-based band has performed in pubs, clubs and venues throughout Northern Virginia. The last two years, the band has played almost 200 shows, in addition to the shows they play as members of various other local bands.
“Across Northern Virginia, I don’t think there’s a [bar] we haven’t played,” Fallon said.
Recently, the duo has been aiming higher. Fallon, who has been playing in the local bar scene since he was 21 years old, said he is ready to expand the band’s horizons.
“Our goal now is trying to get out of the bar scene and play clubs, venues, festivals and special events,” Fallon said.
Last year, Park and Fallon worked to get a gig in the lounge of Gypsy Sally’s, a D.C. club. Despite not having a significant following in D.C., the Free Flowing Musical Experience managed to secure two shows in the lounge before moving to the main stage for another performance.
This month, the band played at the first annual Carlyle Block Party and the funk-flavored, Mardi Gras-in-June event Junebalaya at the Carlyle Club. And the Free Flowing Musical Experience has its sights set on even more venues in the area, like the Bright Box Theater in Winchester and the B Chord in Round Hill.
Beyond venues, Park and Fallon have a list of goals for the year that range from an increased focus on presentation and visual flair in their performances to plans for an album.
The band’s move toward bigger venues has also forced Park and Fallon to push themselves as performers and songwriters.
“In order to get into some of the places we want to now play in now, we have to diversify our setlist more and get more originals in our set,” Fallon.
Even after three years together and decades’ worth of individual gigging experience, growth and evolution are part of the band’s modus operandi. Writing original songs, performing in bigger venues and bringing in new musicians are all pieces of a greater vision for professional and personal growth.
Fallon might jokingly say the Free Flowing Musical Experience’s credo is “Show up, be on time and don’t suck,” but, at the end of the day, the musicians put in hard work because they enjoy what they do.
“Different experiences, different venues, different people force you to push yourself and try to find dif- ferent things,” Fallon said. “We definitely work our [butts] off with what we do. … That’s how you get better.”
The Zebra Press
“Free Flowing Musical Experience – Alexandria’s Legendary Acoustic Jam Band”
By Bobby Franklin
April 5, 2018
A recent article by Money magazine brought newfound fame to Alexandria as a tourist destination. Known mostly for its boutique shopping, history, and proximity to Washington, DC, and Mount Vernon, Alexandria has not really stood out for its local music scene. It isn’t easy for aspiring musicians to make a name for themselves with few established live music venues and limited performance opportunities, which is why the success of a local two-piece acoustic band, Free Flowing Musical Experience, is testament to the value of hard work, passion, talent, and basic likability.
What started as a simple two piece acoustic act has grown into one of the more unique acts around. The band jams. Hard. Despite being only a two-piece acoustic set the duo sounds more like a full five-piece band.
“Nobody does what we do,” laughed the duo’s Gregg Park.
What they do, as their website states, is “aim to capture the diversity of their influences and expand upon each song as an improvisational journey into what can be found on the other end.” By subscribing to this formula, and through hundreds of gigs, long road trips, late night jam sessions, and simple roll up your sleeves hard work, the Free Flowing Musical Experience has become Alexandria’s legendary acoustic jam band. A description that befell them accidentally.
Said Park, “We were setting up at a show and the bar owner said, ‘well if it isn’t FFME. Alexandria’s legendary acoustic jam band’. We just sort of ran with it from there.”
Originally founded by Scott Fallon in 1986, the band had its ups and downs and Fallon had started playing gigs by himself. In 2004, another guy named Gregg Park was looking to find a home on stage too, with just the right partner. When Park came on board, he was scrambling to find his groove and had been in a number of local projects in the mid-Atlantic as well as in Arizona. He fronted an AC/DC tribute band in Phoenix playing the part of Angus Young. Unbeknownst to Fallon, Park shared a mutual friend that urged him to go see one of Fallon’s solo performances. Park obliged, asked to sit in, and they’ve been playing together ever since. Now the two-piece acoustic act performs roughly 175 shows per year. In addition, both artists still do solo shows, and Park also performs in a local country band.
Staying busy has never been difficult for the two, but maintaining a log of quality gigs in the Alexandria area can be a daunting task. The band has their favorite bars of course: Fiona’s, Evening Star, Northside 10 and Southside 815, Fair Winds Brewing, and the recently closed King Street Blues, to name a few. But a busy schedule also leads to bigger venues and better opportunities. The band has a mini tour of Southern Virginia scheduled in the spring, and they’re holding a massive benefit show at Evening Star Café in April.
They are also teaming up with local jam band On the Bus for Northern Virginia’s largest Grateful Dead show re-creation at The Carlyle Club in Alexandria in August.
“We’re really excited for the Evening Star show on April 26th,” said Fallon. “That’s an opportunity to play to our type of audience while raising money to help a friend’s daughter in her fight against cancer. The Carlyle Club is the end result of a lot of hard work. To share the stage with a great band like On the Bus at an amazing venue like Carlyle Club is truly a privilege. We have a lot of work to do before then.”
Want to see them? You can check their schedule at the Free Flowing Musical Experience’s website at www.theffme.com and head over the Evening Star, 2000 Mount Vernon Avenue, in the Del Ray neighborhood on April 26th around 7:30 PM. See you there!