Music Morsels - July 2000
|CROSSROADS.......... Steve Morse by Mark E. Waterbury
Pivotal moments in musicians careers propelling them from obscurity to infamy
(As appearing in the July 2000 issue of Music Morsels.)
It could be very easy to say that guitar genius Steve Morse is not afraid to take chances. Never pigeon-holed into one style of guitar playing, Steve has thrilled music fans for nearly three decades. In the 70's, it was the Dixie Dregs, a wildly progressive, totally instrumental band that gained a respectable following amidst the maelstrom of the burgeoning classic hard rock FM radio scene of that time frame. Then there was the 80's and Steve had a brief foray with the classic prog rock outfit Kansas, breathing life into the group that had been languishing from personnel changes and the dominance of the disco and metal eras. Then the 90's rolled around, and one of rock's most prolific acts Deep Purple was searching for a permanent replacement for their departed volatile guitar genius Ritchie Blackmore. Steve fit the mold perfectly, playing the classic Purple style when needed, but bringing his own personalities to the band. And then there are the solo projects; the Steve Morse Band that always seems to be around touring while the other projects were on break - guest appearances with several other bands and musicians including Lynyrd Skynyrd. Then in the early 90's, the Dregs got back together as well...does Steve Morse ever rest?!
Born in Ohio but raised in Georgia, it took a young Steve Morse a little time to figure out where his career was headed He had dabbled with instruments as varied as violin, clarinet and piano, but when he was eleven, his brother received a guitar that piqued Steve's interest in the instrument. "I really dug the guitar because of the Beatles and the rhythm aspect of it. Eventually, I concentrated much more on it," he recalls. "I withheld judgment on becoming a musician until I became a teenager. When I was fifteen, I realized I played so many shows and had written my own music for the bands, it just seemed to be a natural place for me to put my energy." Playing in seve ral area bands including Dixie Grit with bassist Andy West, Steve went to the school of music at the University of Miami. It was here that he met violinist Allen Sloan and drummer Rod Morgenstein. Andy eventually joined the trio in Miami, but soon the band returned to Augusta, Georgia where they became the Dixie Dregs. Signed by Capricorn Records at the urging of Chuck Leavell, the Dregs would record six albums between 1977 and 1982. The band split up, and Steve formed his own band, while admittedly performing other jobs such as a bulldozer operator during that time. In 1986, Steve connected with some other old friends of his. "Kansas moved to Atlanta fairly early in their careers, and they always came to our shows and we went to theirs. So when they talked about getting back together with their original singer Steve Walsh, they sounded excited. They asked me if I was interested and I said I'd love to do it. It was a great thing for me to learn about other approaches to songwriting."
Steve recorded two albums with Kansas, and although he and Steve Walsh had some different ideas of what the band's musical direction should be, they got along fine. The record company, however, was not as receptive to the changes. "That's when I didn't want to do that anymore. I didn't want my contribution to be that way. I wanted to see Kansas the way I imagined. So I finished the album and tour, but I felt we did a lot of good music together." After leaving Kansas, Steve got the Steve Morse Band cranked up again. "I realized t could perform at gigs with a trio like Eric Johnson did. I always envied the streamlined three piece line-up. It worked really well. I think some people who saw me missed the Dregs, but I had an exceptional bass player as well. I think we grew our own audience." Those who missed the Dregs were ecstatic when the band reunited in 1992 - a reunion that would be repeated several times over the rest of the decade and produce two studio albums. It was moving toward the later half of the 90's when Deep Purple came calling. "Roger Glover (Deep Purple's) bass player is a very eclectic guy. He saw our trio playing in Florida and it made an impression on him. When Ritchie (Blackmore) quit, they recruited Joe Satriani to finish the Japanese tour which had already been booked. But afterwards, they were looking for a permanent member and Roger brought up my name. At first, I was as skeptical as the band was, but it turned out that we built such good chemistry, I was really impressed." Steve loaned his guitar expertise to two CDs with Deep Purple, interspersed with some Dregs shows. Perhaps it is fitting that going into the new millennium, Steve recorded a solo CD saluting his musical heroes, aptly titled "Major Impacts". "It's not just a tribute to guitarists, but to vocalists and bands for that matter. It's something that I've always wanted to do."
The Steve Morse Band is about to go on tour ...with who else but the Dixie Dregs. And there is another Deep Purple CD hitting the store shelves along with a tour. The five year span that Steve stayed with band was the longest a Deep Purple line-up has remained intact. What keeps this guitar wizard going at this torrid pace? "I especially like to do different things. I liked Kansas for the great arrangements, strong material and stage production. With the Dregs, anything goes in terms of complexity. I played five shows with Lynyrd Skynyrd and it showed how good a basic heavy groove can be. And with Purple, it showed me how to be part of a band and just relax in a big easy chair. Very comfortable, but very intense. Playing guitar is like a conduit that always takes you somewhere interesting. It's so interesting, I like changing the channels."
|INDUSTRY PROFILE - Harold Hamm, Owner of USGIGTV.NET
by Mark E. Waterbury
(As appearing in the July 2000 issue of Music Morsels.)
Harold Hamm was one of those people who always liked music, but career choices led him in a different path at first. Growing up in New Jersey, Harold joined the Army where he became involved with computers. He also explored further bounds of his musical tastes while stationed in Turkey, delving into the ethnic sons of the culture there. Following his hitch, he went on to work for several corporations including Martin Marietta and Seagate, eventually getting into cutting edge technology with video. "At Seagate, I was known for having these hidden video cameras throughout my cubicle. I would show the videos on my monitor, and people would walk past the monitor, and wonder, 'Hey, where is that coming from?' Now it's probably no big deal, but back then it was cutting edge technology." He also became involved with a company called Hotage Corporation, that dealt with video prior to the internet. "Plenty of people asked me why I didn't just go into audio. If you know how to do audio, you know how to do video. It just makes sense to do video instead of just audio. But everything I had been doing was aiming in the direction of working with music. I just didn't realize it at the time." Eventually, Harold and his wife had a child, and he became a self-professed "Mister Mom". Looking for some ideas to work on the internet helped lead him to start up USGIGTV. "We were developing web sites for nightclubs in central Florida. Dealing with them, we were able to check out the acts performing there. We started with just photos and then got into streaming videos for them. It was just an evolutionary step." USGIGTV.NET is wholly-owned and operated by its staff, who work hard to bring here-to-fore unknown music to the masses. The company's world-wide services include video streaming including commentary, an MP3 room for bands to sell their CDs, and a great interactive atmosphere for fans to tap into new music. The service is entirely free to both fans and the musicians who use it. They also videotape concerts and hold live music showcases to spotlight new talent. USGIGTV.NET is planning on working with some companies that will bring the internet to normal household TVs though the electrical hook-ups, as well as improvements in Media Player. They will also be working with some upcoming movies including a biopic about Janis Joplin. "There are so many exciting things coming up. I think people will be surprised. It's hard to envision what is about to come about." Harold loves the satisfaction of giving unknown artists a chance, but humbly admits that USGIGTV is a team effort and is really for the musicians it helps. "We're helping numerous struggling artists who normally wouldn't get any exposure. A lot of people don't have the contacts or the labels behind them or the financing, especially many foreign bands. We really get satisfaction when we receive an e-mail from a band saying, through you we got this or through you or this happened because of you. But USGIGTV is all about them. It's not really about me. I'm just kind of helping them present what they've done." To become a part of the USGIGTV web site, please visit their web site at http://www.USGIGTV.NET
|INDIE ARTIST SPOTLIGHT - Andriette Redmann of Sun Palace by Mark
(As appearing in the July 2000 issue of Music Morsels.)
Andriette Redmann suffered one of the greatest losses one can imagine - the death of both parents in a short period of time. Already a musician and songwriter, her search for solace helped her pen the music for the debut CD by her group Sun Palace titled "Into Heaven". Co-producing the CD with John D. Rokosny (Smithereens) and engineering by Mark Mandelbaum (LL Cool J), the music of Sun Palace is already starting to stir a little buzz in the Northeast as well as in other locations. Now poised to take her inspired music to the masses, Andriette talks to Music Morsels about past experiences and future hopes.
MM: When did you first realize you wanted to become involved in music?
AR: I was talking to my mom and I told her I knew that I wanted to be a singer. She responded with, "That's OK, but what makes you think you have anything different to offer?" And I thought, hmmm, what do I have? But it carried through and I kept doing music while in high school and college.
MM: When did you become interested in songwriting?
AR: It really started popping up around adolescent time - the time when your hormones start going and you got all of these feelings churning up inside of you. You're curious about the world and you want to keep it to yourself. That's where it started and it just kept going from there.
MM: Is your songwriting spontaneous or do you plan out what you write?
AR: Pretty spontaneous. Usually I start playing and a song starts to come together. I'll either start with the drum machine or keyboard. Then the melody will just start rolling along with everything and the words will start coming out. It also can bubble up together. But once in awhile, I'm listening to a certain kind of music over and over. I might find myself trying to gear a rhythm like what I heard.
MM: When did you start feeling inspired to create Sun Palace and the CD "In Heaven"?
AR: It's been coming on for awhile. After my parents died, I think that's when I felt more inspired and figured out a deeper side to myself and others - why are we all here together and what do we do and where do we go after we die? - questions like that. So it was a gradual process. I started a band on my own a few years ago and then connected with (producer) John Rokosny. He and I really worked well together. Between the two of us, we found just the right people we wanted. The people that play with us are really loving people and have the right feelings about the music.
MM: Did you feel that this band is the one you really want to take to the next level?
AR: Yeah, definitely. There's a spiritual aspect to it. I'm concerned with the healing of the planet in every way - he environment, paying more attention to our universe and each other. I think the force of love unifies us, and that is really the most important thing we can focus on. I'm kind of excited to have a spiritual and loving base for what I do.
MM: What is it about "Into Heaven" that you like the most?
AR: I'm really happy with it. I feel the music is more developed and refined me. Maybe ten years from now, I will think it was less mature. I still like to listen to it. Many times after you finish a project you get tired of listening to it, but I'm not tired of it yet. I'm really happy with it. For me, it has sort of a mystical feel. It was such a labor of love that I can feel it when I listen to it. It makes me look forward to the next CD, which will probably start to meander in a slightly different way.
MM: Is Sun Palace starting to build a good fan base already?
AR: I would say so, here and there. I'm sort of living like Enya right now. She lives in Ireland but is somewhat keeping to herself. She had some fame ahead of time which carried me through which I don't have. So I'm going to need to really burst out to get people to listen more. I have people in New York. Some people brought my CD down to Atlanta and they like me down there. Massage therapists liked me (laughs) and back in my home town in Wisconsin, people are putting out the word and writing articles. They want me to perform there. It's spreading out but we're going to have to get a really strong strategy.
MM: Do you already have an idea of that strategy?
AR: Since New York is a good area I'll probably just start out playing around here and then branch out into the states nearby. Try to get radio play. We're on some radio stations now but we need more. Pretty much the whole thing.
MM: What do people like most about the music?
AR: They like to play it over and over again. It's sort of calming and uplifting at the same time. It makes them feel better in their lives. Feeling less afraid or soothing the spirit.
MM: When comparing Sun Palace to other bands you've been a member of, do you feel this band is the one that will become successful?
AR: Oh yes. It has a spiritual basis to it that sort of wishes the best for all of mankind, animals, the environment. It wishes well-being for all. I don't think that there is anything more important then the healing of all, the support of all and the love of all. I know that sounds somewhat silly but I do believe in it. So this is my vehicle to carry that forward. For more information on Sun Palace, please visit the web site a http://www.sunpalacemusic.com
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