Steez performing at Winter Jamfest 2022
photo by DeWook
Backstage at the Majestic Madison is always a trip. Especially during a multiple band show like Wisconsin Jamfest 2022. So many new faces say Hello and the old faces revisit the memories of yesterday. As usual, I was here for Steez, a Madison based favorite band that has been around since before I started DeWook. The path to the green room with Steez has been a long one, but how did I get here?
After I launched DeWook Photography in February of 2014, I was shooting everything. From Fire hydrants to clouds with faces. I was on the hunt. When I got into live event photography, I was off to the races. Doing three shows every Friday and Saturday night. Just to prove to upcoming artists that I was the one to hire.
When Summerfest 2014 hit, I was on fire. Working with a dozen or so bands with my sights on anything else that I could get involved with. I was at the Tiki Stage working with Evergreen when I was introduced to Matt Williams. We immediately started chatting and got along instantly. He mentioned his band Steez and that he would be in touch. For DeWook the future was bright.
Early Fall of 2014 Matt finally reached out to me. Told me his band Steez would be doing a Christmas show at the Miramar Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was without hesitation on board. My first Christmas show. At this time in my life, I was going through my divorce. So, any and all distractions were welcomed.
The Steez Christmas show went off without a hitch. Santa was onstage dancing, the funk from this band had the crowd grooving, and I was having the time of my life. I told myself I had to focus on this band and get some music. Start studying and learning how these guys present on stage. Off to the merch stand I went.
Throughout the years I have established a large collection of music from my clients. One album, “Kronos” by Steez left a permanent groove in my cd player. The four track EP contained some of the freshest grooves I have heard from any band in a long time. The track “Slick Shoes” was played so many times my kids were humming it in the isles of Pick N Save. For me, a product of the rave scene, music didn’t need words. Steez was hitting all the right buttons.
Over the years Steez and I worked on so many shows. From the Cooperage in Milwaukee to the High Noon Saloon in Madison we were always connected at the hip. If there was a Steez show, it was guaranteed DeWook would be photographing the set. Matt Williams, Alex Roberts, Andrzej Benkowski, Steven Neary, & Chris Sell became my Steez family.
Year in, year out we did the Christmas shows. Crazy onstage antics. Always packed the house. The audience at every show was always so receptive. But my focus began to stray, and I was working with so many other clients. Has my time with Steez run its course?
At some point I started doing more studio work. I had my backdrops and wanted to gain more clients. So, I set up a mini studio in my apartment. I recruited some of my artists to do promo work for me. Matt Williams ended up at one of those sessions. He brought over some instruments and incorporated them into the shoot. We had a blast. But it was short lived.
In 2019, I was doing crazy orbs with my drone. Creating small planets. This caught Matt Williams’ eye and he contacted me. He wanted me to do an orb of Madison, Wisconsin for the new Steez album “Little World.” I was on board in jiffy, this was going to be the 8th album that my work would be apart on. I was so stoked.
After “Little World” was released, we did a handful of release parties. I got caught up in some large tours and then the unthinkable occurred. The pandemic hit. My business and the music industry came to a grinding halt. Everything we all worked for had stopped. None of us could do anything but wait out the storm.
Mid pandemic, I again turned to my home studio. I began working with models and putting together a new DeWook Studios page on my website. At this time, we had no clue when the music industry would relaunch. But once again Steez appeared on my radar. They had secured a show at the Barrymore in Madison, Wisconsin. My goal was to be there too.
Matt Williams and I chatted about the Barrymore show. We came to an agreement to do some promo work as well. Ya know, take advantage of the space and bring in my portable studio. We set up the blue paper and after their soundcheck we did a couple of promo shots. Still, all in the masks. I knew that this material would have a very short shelf life.
After the Barrymore show Steez and I got back together and did their 2021 Christmas show at the Cooperage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their first time at that venue. Great space, the stage always seemed a tad too high for my tastes. But the room was electric. I took advantage of my multiple exposure skills and worked my magic. Doing my best to create new life into these images and distract from the masks on their faces.
So here I was in the Majestic Madison green room. Chatting with the Wisconsin Jamfest host Joe Burback and a few members of Mr. Blotto. Just hearing all these stories about how the journey early on in the pandemic has affected them. How it had affected us. Again, with a subtle reminder of uncertainty.
Steez rocked out at the Wisconsin Jamfest 2022. All in masks. Just itching to play. Pushing through another show with the hopes that the music industry will return to what it once was. The songs to me have never changed with Steez. Their onstage presence and the energy their music deliverers will always fuel my soul. For Me and Steez it’s clear how our journey began. We can only hope for a fantastic future, and that we will meet again real soon in this green room.
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