Hill Country Live Presents
The Steepwater Band, Joe Firstman
410 7th St. NW
Washington, DC, 20004
The Steepwater Band
Formed in Chicago back in 1998, The Steepwater Band’s signature sound is a nod to early British blues, combined with a modern, raw and gutsy musical approach. Founding members Massey, Bowers and Winters have a synergy that comes from years of playing together. Then in early 2012, the long-time trio was joined by Saylors, from Indianapolis, IN, who brought an added depth to the TSB LIVE sound. Although the band got their start as devotees of delta blues, they have since been expanding on their influences, absorbing everything from Psychedelia to Americana, from Jazz to 50’s Rock n’ Roll Music.
The Steepwater Band has maintained a grueling schedule throughout the last 18 years, averaging about 140 shows per year. They have toured and shared the stage with acts such as Gov't Mule, Buddy Guy, Wilco, Taj Mahal, Marc Ford, ZZ Top, T-Model Ford, North Mississippi All Stars, Leon Russell, Drive-By Truckers, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Cheap Trick, Bad Company and Heart. In 2005, the band made its European debut, performing at the Azkena Rock Festival in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. In the following years, the band has returned to the United Kingdom and Europe for multiple club and festival tours, increasing their loyal overseas fan-base.
Diamond Day Records is very excited to announce the release of The Steepwater Band’s 6th full-length studio album SHAKE YOUR FAITH. The LP features 11 brand new TSB tracks, and is slated for release on Friday, April 1st via Double 180 Gram Vinyl, Compact Disc and Digital Download. The album was recorded last winter at Crushtone Studios, in the shadows of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in Cleveland, Ohio. Shake Your Faith was produced by the band along with seasoned rock studio veteran Jim Wirt, who has also worked with the likes of Fiona Apple, Incubus and the Buffalo Killers. As with most TSB albums, the sound and songwriting on Shake Your Faith has grown and expanded, yet retained the true nature of the band. It’s the first TSB studio record in over 4 years and the first to include “new” guitarist Eric Saylors.
The Steepwater Band 2014
With the additional band member, the songwriting approach for this record was different than it was on past TSB albums, when they were a 3-piece. Singer/Guitarist Jeff Massey comments on the TSB songwriting process…“Each song was different. I had a few totally finished songs, or Tod would bring a complete piece of music that would need melody & lyrics. And there were also a bunch of other musical ideas coming from both Eric & Joe, which we would all hash out together.” Drummer Joe winters states “Everyone really brought ideas to the table, collaboratively, more so with Shake Your Faith, than with any other of our records. That really created a special vibe around the songs.”
The arctic Lake Erie air made for a secluded and quick session, as it was all recorded and mixed within 12 days. “What better circumstances to record in?” says Eric Saylors, “There weren’t any outside distractions!” The band entered the studio with a group of songs, but with very loose arrangements. Bassist Tod Bowers elaborates, “It really allowed everyone in the band to be inspired by the moment. Sonically inspired by what sounds you were hearing coming out of the speakers… what was happening in the room, musically between the 4 of us. And you can hear that in the recording.”
Shake Your Faith has a wide range of sounds from straight ahead rock n roll to a psychedelic samba, and lyrical direction that extends from love to murder. This album is the true meaning of just that. An album - a collective piece of music that’s meant to be heard front to back. Saylors adds “The way the whole record flows, it’s like one long song… takes you on a little journey.”
Joe Firstman bought an $18 cross-country Greyhound ticket from his home in North Carolina to Los Angeles, arriving with a beat-up guitar and head full of songs. He quickly found the big stage. It all happened quickly: first came the big Hollywood gigs, then the industry buzz, then the big deal with Atlantic Records and national tours with big rock stars like Sheryl Crow, Jewel, and Willie Nelson. There was ego and excess and beautiful ladies and music, music, music. Firstman wrote it all down and sang his songs like his life depended on it.
"In the songs of Joe Firstman, sensitive young men prowl the hills of Los Angeles, searching for fame and beauty, only to find self-destructive behavior and egos gone wild…” wrote Jim Farber in the New York Daily News. “While Hollywood's peaks and pitfalls have been prominently charted by songwriters from Don Henley, Stevie Nicks and Jackson Browne to Warren Zevon, Firstman aims to reinvent the milieu for his own generation."
When the world stopped spinning, he’d landed a regular gig as the bandleader on the “Last Call with Carson Daly” show. For four years, this was his university – playing and writing songs in whatever style the show’s musical guests played and learning how to engage a studio audience, day in and day out.
Firstman released his 7th studio album, “Swear It Was A Dream,” on September 6, 2011. The album features 10 new songs written and recorded over the last year in studios in Charleston, SC, Mexico, Los Angeles, and Nashville. Of the album, Firstman shared, “You can really feel the year in the record, you can feel the whole journey in there and it’s my best piece. It’s my best thing thus far.”
The album’s first single, “Who’s Turning Your Light Out?” is Firstman’s exploration of straightforward, unadulterated songwriting. “It was just a very personal lyric, but I tried to make it into a pop song that everybody would get. Its got lyrics about South Carolina and falling asleep with your head in your hands—I thought the imagery was relatable, “ says Firstman.
“Swear It Was A Dream” is the follow-up to Firstman’s two 2010 releases, “El Porto,” and “Live At The Treehouse,” both released on Rock Ridge Music. In 2009, Firstman’s full-time, four-year job as bandleader on “Last Call with Carson Daly” ended when Firstman shifted his focus to his independent musical pursuits. Prior, Firstman put out a full-length (“The War of Women”) and an EP (“Wives Tales”) on Atlantic, plus another full-length (“DrAma”) and live EP (“Live at The Sandbox”), which were released independently.
As Firstman was wrapping up “Swear It Was A Dream” in Nashville, he formed a new band with longtime friends and collaborators Jaron Lowenstein, Toby Weaver, and John Lloyd, dubbed “Cordovas.” Their debut, self-titled, album features all new songs written and produced by Firstman in his first efforts at writing for a full-band and three part harmonies. Additionally, Firstman is currently producing Lowenstein’s forthcoming solo album.
On September 3, 2011, The Cordovas launched their first US Tour, featuring a solo Firstman as the supporting act. The Cordovas tour wraps November 15 in Yakima, WA and Firstman will immediately jump into his tour with Zach Myers (Shinedown, The Farewell.) Firstman usually spends over 200 days touring per year and has shared the stage with such acts as Sheryl Crow, Jewel, and Willie Nelson.