The first music I recall hearing was Jailhouse Rock and the sound of my daddy's motorcycle running in the garage. The mellow gospel harmonies of the Jordanaires and the loud rumble of straight pipes crashing together seemed to form a kind of personal anthem of rebellion and independence, one that I would not only find comfort in, but spend a lifetime searching for a connection to that sound and the feeling it created. I can't remember the actual event that put a guitar in my hands, only my momma sitting in the car outside of Harris Music Co. Waiting for me to finish my lesson. I guess I learned enough there that in my early teens I formed my first band with a cousin and played basement parties, battle of the bands, and even some churches. Though it didn't last, it gave me a taste of something that I would always hunger for more of. That hunger eventually grew into an unrelenting pain that began to cast a shadow of dissatisfaction over everything I did. Then one black night, on an old back road through the woods, it brought me to my knees, and to the realization that I had to try and reconnect to those early feelings. In what now seems like a daze, I sold what I could of my old life for some traveling money and then, with just my car and a guitar, quietly rolled out of town. It took me over fifteen years to go from a rural North Carolina farm to New York City. One of the reasons it took so long is that I love to drive long distances. Another reason is that I took the scenic route. A route that would take me for stints, some long, some short, to various cities and towns around the country. My first stop would be Music City, Nashville, Tennessee. Following the footsteps of some of my music heroes like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Emmylou Harris, I found a place to begin. Nashville can be hard and cold or warm and gentle and I guess if you' re lucky you get to experience them both. I cut my teeth as a songwriter riding the fringes of Nashville's underground music scene and playing the unlimited number of writer's nights in and around the city. But it wasn't long before the transparency of Nashville's mainstream music became shamefully obvious and an appetite for something real led me to Beale Street in Memphis. There I learned the difference between a life informed by music and music informed by life, and though I knew the latter would be harder and less certain, it was just too powerful to deny. So for the next ten years I set my sights on the open road and anything that might keep me on the edge of life, informing the songs I was writing. That came to include numerous road trips cross country, me and my guitar, exploring parts of Utah, Nevada, California, most of Arizona, New Orleans, and after settling in New York City, several of the northeastern states. In New York, I embraced the city life and found much deeper inspirations, and a fresh new creative energy. Within the first year I had formed a band called the Mystery Train and was playing in the city at The Marquee, The Bottom Line, Town Hall, The Roadhouse, and opening for Richard Thompson, Ritchie Havens, John Kay and Steppenwolf, Jefferson Starship, Procol Harum, and Roger McGuinn. I even dove into the world of theatre and was able to incorporate my music into that work as well. Life's journey and the things we discover along these roads we travel seem to be the things that have kept my interest all these years. So as I begin the next chapter of my journey I find myself listening again for those sounds that first inspired me and have accompanied me all along. A Review from Night Music, Rockland Journal News: Shades of Elvis Steve Kirkman opened for Jesse Colin Young. He had everything he needed: slicked back black hair, a North Carolina accent, an acoustic guitar and rock 'n' roll attitude to spare. In his songs, youthful desire and faith in things like love, music and the road ran smack into a clear-eyed reality principle that acknowledges hard time and heartbreak. Although strongly resembling the twang of the Sun rockers filtered up through Bruce Springsteen('Girl you take my breath away but this guitar let's me run'), Kirkman didn't sound derivative so much as driven. He sang a short solo set to an audience too busy talking to give him a listen. But that handful of tunes, his cool in the face of rudeness and a 10 song demo with a band called Mystery Train (the look wasn't the only Elvis connection) shows the singing and songs are there. 'Lover's Leap' starts out with the drawled line 'Adan and Eve, they had a real cool thing,but they let it slip away'. This hip, Biblical observation turns into a plea for commitment. The words say spritual; the voice and music suggest surrender. On 'Hiway Down,' Kirkman turns to a child's nursery rhyme to eloquently cap a song about future hopes. 'Last Regret' rocks out on hard-boiled self-knowledge and a neat piano figure. And so on. Kirkman gets a little too romantic for his own good from time to time. You want to hear the band kick just a little bit harder. But he's got an impressive calling card and a solid, honest sound.
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