Some people start life with a plan. Not Steve. He opens himself up to the universe in a way most of us will never be loose enough to achieve, and the universe responds with a wink, a seemingly bottomless well of inspiration, and the talent to truly connect with an audience. While 2021 could have found him adrift, faced with a tour moratorium the likes of which he hadn’t experienced in decades, it opened a door — literally, his friend Oliver Wood of The Wood Brother’s door — to creating an exuberant, thoughtful batch of songs that celebrate life in all of its stages.
The “it” in question is one of those serendipitous situations that were created by the pandemic. Steve, a road dog and performance junkie who regularly spends 300+ days a year on the road, bringing it to the people, should’ve been on tour last year. Esteemed Nashville roots rockers The Wood Brothers (Chris Wood being a former neighbor to Steve), also should’ve been on tour. Stuck in Nashville, Steve often joined the Wood Brothers for outdoor socially distant hangs, and, on a whim, decided to record one song with Oliver Wood and Jano Rix.
With a cult following that includes fellow musicians, regular folks and festival goers who stumble onto his performances, there’s no common denominator to Steve’s fans. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and raised in San Diego, CA Steve toured and recorded with San Diego cult favorites The Rugburns (they still play annual sold-out reunion shows). But it was through his creative partnership with Jewel that he vaulted into the national spotlight; co-writing her multiplatinum Billboard Hot 100-busting smash, “You Were Meant For Me,” and continues to work with her to this day.
Over the years, the Nashville-based troubadour has built a fascinating solo catalog, earmarked by his debut, One Left Shoe, Dreamhouse, Folk Singer, and 2019’s Shine On. No Depression crowned him, “A sardonic provocateur with a lighthearted acoustic-driven wit, suggesting at times a sunnier, less psychedelic Todd Snider, or maybe a less wan, washed Jackson Brown,” while the Associated Press dubbed him “part busker, part Iggy Pop and part Robin Williams, a freewheeling folkie with a quick wit and big heart.”
Among other collaborations, GRAMMY-winning bluegrass phenom Billy Strings tapped him to co-write “Leaders” on 2021’s Renewal and he’s co-written with Molly Tuttle, Sierra Hull, Nicki Bluhm, Oliver Wood and even Mojo Nixon.
He’s resumed his tour schedule, and when he comes to your town, he’ll say, as he does every night, “This is the best show I’ve ever played.” And hell, maybe it just is.
Ultimately, Steve never needed a plan.
He’s something of a natural, after all.