In his song 'I Need to Wander,' prolific local singer/songwriter Steve Black sings: 'I have a restless soul, I need to find the missing pieces so my story can unfold, I need to wander.' True to his word, after staying put while raising two children in West Grove with wife Joyce, Black took to the road by himself. He and his acoustic guitar traveled frequently to perform in venues from New York to Nashville and points in between, entertaining crowds with solo renditions of his cleverly crafted songs based on personal experiences. It's ironic, then, that Black found what he was looking for so close to home. In 1997, Black wandered (there's that word again) into a Chester County roadhouse where local band Thompson Station was, as he writes on the liner notes of 'Road Games,' 'romping through their special mix of country, rock and roll, and blues.' A mutual friend introduced Black to Thompson Station's guitarist/keyboardist, Kenny Thompson, and bassist, Karen Hennigan, who then bought Black's first CD, 'Time Passes.' By the time Thompson Station finished their set, Black says, he 'was so impressed that I put the money Kenny had given me into the tip jar and we decided to get together to see what happened.' What happened was that they became a band. Thompson Station's distinct sound helped shape the songs that would become the 1998 release 'Road Games.' Hennigan and Thompson appear on all of the songs on Road Games, save 'Like a Friend,' which was recorded live at Nashville's renowned Bluebird Café during one of Black's 'wanderings.' Thompson, a familiar face in the local music scene, has been with numerous bands, including Rural Rhythm, Murphy's Last Chance, The Homewreckers, and The Outta Town Swing Band. He was also part of the band Crossfork, which in 1993 represented this region in Nashville's National Marlboro Music Competition. His wife, Hennigan, says, ' I had to join the music scene just to spend time with my husband. He was always out playing and I never saw him. I'd played a bit of guitar and bass at home, so when he asked me to become the bass player for one of his bands I agreed. Since then, I've had a great time playing with lots of different people, but I especially love working with Steve because he's such an excellent songwriter.' Before meeting Thompson Station, Black considered himself a solo artist and used studio musicians for his recordings. One of those musicians just happened to also be the producer/engineer/multi-instrumentalist Marc Moss who owns and operates Maryland's Target Studio. In addition to producing, mixing and mastering the songs on 'Time Passes,' Moss played bass, electric guitar and keyboards on the album. Valuing Moss's support and expertise, which helped 'Time Passes' to be named as one of the top twelve independent recordings of 1997 by Performing Songwriter Magazine, Black had no doubt that he'd return to Target for all his recording needs. Moss also gets credit for hooking Black up with drummer Brad Fish. It was his suggestion that brought Fish in for the project the group is currently working on at Target Studio. Fish also has a history in the local music scene, notably with Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers, as well as local favorite Rocket 88. Enter The Benders; as Steve puts it, 'We've all kicked around in various musical endeavors over the years, but there's just a certain chemistry we've found together that transcends anything we've experienced before. We've become like a family, both musically and personally. The particular mix of talent, experience and musical style that we have together is special, and we want to explore it further. A group name seemed in order, hence The Benders.' 'I've been on the road by myself and I enjoy it,' said Black. 'But I have a lot more fun with the band.' And, after all, as Black said, he is in the music business for the joy of it. 'I don't have high aspirations. I wasn't expecting to get rich and have a major label behind me,' he said. 'To be able to do it should be reward enough, just be able to play an instrument should be enough.'
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