Frank and Steve: Bio
“During my college days in the 1970s, I had been banging Rock and Roll on electric guitar for 5 years,” explains Steve. “Then artists like Crosby, Stills, & Nash emerged, and suddenly main stream rock had a niche for soft acoustic guitars. It became cool.” Steve says.
A convert to acoustic rock, Steve joined a cover band that toured the coffeehouse circuit. But after each rehearsal- when other band mates went home- Steve hung out to compose songs. “I guess I was a natural writer,” Steve explains, “Everyone else in the band wanted to sound like the radio.” It became apparent that Steve enjoyed writing more than working in a band. “It was all about the fun factor,” Steve says.
After a few introverted years Steve joined forces with other song writers to form an “all original song” band. “That didn’t go over too well with the bar owners”, Steve admits, “But they loved us at the Bitter End.” (Manhattan’s famous showcase club for new musical talent where Bob Dylan did his internship).
However, the lure of money eventually convinced the band to modify their strategy and start playing covers of hit songs. Looking back, Steve admits: “We sold out.” Their dream of playing original songs fell by the wayside. “We went where the money was,” Steve explains. “Country rock was booming. We followed the trail blazed by the film ‘Urban Cowboy’.”
They landed some prestigious gigs, opening for both Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash, as well as backing up Roy Rodgers in New York City. But their hearts weren’t in it. “Playing music just became another job,” Steve says.
By the mid 1980s the bar scene grind was taking its toll with inner band squabbles and broken marriages. Speaking for himself, Steve confesses: “I was doing 9 gigs a week, playing music I hated to an audience I disrespected, with band mates I couldn’t get along with. But most of all I was disappointed in myself for having drifted so far from my dreams.”
Steve came to the decision that bar gigs must end. “I admitted I just wasn’t a performer cut out to be jumping around on a stage. I was a song writer.”
Steve returned to the introverted seclusion of writing and recording in a home studio. He learned to be competent on several instruments, stringed instruments like guitar and bass, as well as keyboards, piano and organ, and chose to earn a living outside the music industry.
At the same time, advancing technology was making big changes in the way the Steve wrote. “When I first started writing songs I was recording on a primitive 1960 era one track tape dictation machine,” Steve remembers. “Over the years I advanced to a 24 track digital studio.”
Steve admits that recording is a vital part of his writing style. “You get instant audio feedback on your song,” Steve says. “Does the melody work with that chord pattern? How would a sax sound here? I have a library of sample sounds, every instrument you can imagine,” Steve says. “All those instruments can be played via a piano keyboard interface, overdubbed onto previous performance tracks, and interwoven to create the sound of a 20 piece orchestra.” But even with all the wizardry, Steve believed the song itself was the most important ingredient in a successful recording.
Today, Steve seems to be striving to write songs with emotion and feeling. “I’m a Baby Boomer,” Steve admits. “I write the kind of songs a person with 65 plus years of life experience would write. Mature songs with emotion. I guess that’s why they call my genre Adult Contemporary.”
Steve credits every major artist from the 1940s right up to today’s emerging talent as influences on his style. “I am the sum total of every piece of music I have ever loved,” Steve says. “I like to go back to the basics,” he explains. “I write and record the stuff I love… because that’s what I need to do.”