The Steepwater Band
by Mike Huberty
The Steepwater Band
Chicago Roots-Rock veterans, THE STEEPWATER BAND, have been playing their hearts out all over the world for nearly two decades. Forming in 1998, their raw, gritty, and bluesy sound, which started as a trio and has expanded to a quartet, fits perfectly in the retro-world of THE BLACK KEYS and RIVAL SONS. A band with a hometown attitude but a national profile, you may have heard their songs on television shows like “NCIS”, “Dangerous Games”, “Vegas”, or “The Good Wife”. Or maybe in movies like “The Five-Year Engagement” or “One For The Money”. They’ve established themselves as a fantastic ambassador for the Chicago scene (they even do an event called Illicana, which features bands from the Land of Lincoln playing Americana tracks.) Real deal road warriors, their tour schedule in just July ranges from Milwaukee’s Summerfest to Blues Festivals in Italy, Australia, and Switzerland(!) We took a few minutes to talk with guitarist and vocalist Jeff Massey to preview their upcoming appearance at Atwood Summerfest on July 27th.
Maximum Ink: What’s the best song to listen to for someone who hasn’t heard Steepwater before?
Jeff Massey: Hmmmm. That’s tricky picking one. I’m going to say the song, “Dance Me A Number”. The reason I pick this particular tune is because we run into a lot of new faces coming out to see our show strictly because they heard this song. It’s been getting a ton of airplay, primarily on streaming radio like Pandora and Spotify.
MI: What was the inspiration behind it?
JM: It was an instrumental song I had been playing around with on acoustic guitar for a few months before I decided to add lyrics. Lyrically, it’s inspired by the concept of living in the moment, enjoying each and every day and not being hung up on what the future holds. The whole inspiration, musically, came from messing around with an odd guitar tuning and turning it into an electric number with the band involved sent it over the top.
MI: What’s the best time you’ve ever had in Wisconsin?
JM: Oh man too many to mention. The Trempealeau Blues Bash was fantastic last year. What a great crowd! We just got back from a run in Lacrosse, Rome and Green Bay that was fantastic. Wisconsin has always been good to us. Looking forward to the upcoming show in Madison at the Atwood Festival.
MI: So as a band that tours constantly and has been performing for 16 years, how do you keep it fresh and exciting?
JM: We never get bored because we play a different set every night and a lot of improvising happens on stage. We feed off each other and the crowd and you never know which direction certain songs might go in. When we do take a break from the road, it’s never for long. We each have a strong passion for playing live and we put that intensity into our show every night. We enjoy the music to a point where I believe it really rubs off on the crowd on a good night and the whole experience is shared by everybody. We love it.
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