The Steepwater Band have been a Chicago staple for 15+ years and fans came out in full force for the Shake Your Faith record release show at 1st Ward in Chicago. Their sixth studio album was well represented during their set along with other fan favorites and a couple covers. The night started off with a one-man set of songs from Edward David Anderson. His set included acoustic guitar, banjo, cigar box guitar and a kick drum and was well received by everyone. That was followed by an outstanding performance by Davy Knowles. This four piece outfit greatly appealed to the Chicago crowd with their brand of blues-rock.
It was close to 11:30 p.m. that night when the lights went down for the final time. Intro music, that sounded like an old gospel song, started playing and the familiar words heard during the chorus, “Don’t let nothing shake your faith,” were quite appropriate. Eventually The Steepwater Band took the stage and started the night with title track, Shake Your Faith, the first of 9 new songs they would share with everyone in attendance. This song had an even, steady beat that flowed smoothly with singer/guitarist, Jeff Massey’s vocals. Watch the official video for Shake Your Faith here.
This lead into the second of three new songs, Walk In The Light. This song had a heavy groovy bass line from bassist Tod Bowers. When combined with a steady beat and focused groove from drummer Joe Winters, this song really made you want to move. In fact, all night, Joe’s confidence made his playing look effortless. Next was Ain’t Got Love, a funky number and another one that made you want to react in one way or another. Add in a ripping guitar solo and once they were done, you were left wanting more. Continuing with the move and groove vibe, they played All the Way to Nowhere from their album Grace and Melody.
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They slowed it down a bit with another new song, Bring on the Love. The guitar playing in this song had an almost dreamy quality to it, but the chorus, for me, is the real highlight of the song. With amazing vocals and harmonies, the whole song in general is one that could easily be left on repeat. Up next was another new song, and one of my personal favorites, Mama Got To Ramble. This song picked up the pace again and included plenty of funky bass playing from Tod Bowers. This in turn made people want to dance, bob their head or react in whatever way made them the happiest.
After a slight pause so guitarist Eric Saylors could get situated with a lap steel, they played another new song, I Will Never Know. It’s always nice when bands show their diversity in a live setting with instruments used on their albums. Eric also provided backing vocals, as he did often all night along with Tod. This lead into one of the best covers I’ve heard from The Steepwater Band. They took Neil Young’s Cinnamon Girl and really made it their own. Based on the applause and cheers when the song ended, I’d say everyone was in agreement.
While most bands may take a more reserved approach when playing songs most people may have never heard live before (the band were playing the day after their album was released) The Steepwater Band continued to treat fans to new tunes. Jealous of Your Way lead into Silver Lining, which was recorded during the same session as the other songs on Shake Your Faith, but was actually released as part of their 2015 release of Diamond Days: The Best of The Steepwater band 2006-2014. Watch the official video here.
They continued with another new song, Last Second Chance, before going into two more upbeat numbers. New song, Gone Goodbye, which to me has a little bit of a Black Crowes vibe to it, and the always popular Come On Down, from their Clava album. What I can only imagine to be the most anticipated part of the latter song for some, is the extremely funky intro by Tod. I’m not sure if he plays the same notes every time, but he definitely and quickly gets the attention of everyone in the room. Channeling some sort of low end groove, the audience was captivated as he built up the anticipation leading to his spot light role at the beginning of the song. Of course, the song itself provided evidence that no one left their dancing shoes at home.
The band briefly left the stage before coming back for a three song encore. Having played nine of the eleven songs on Shake Your Faith, the encore included, Ain’t Gonna Waste the Day Crying, a song from their 2001 release Brother to the Snake. This was an interesting choice as it was a great comparison to be able to hear a song from the band’s early days along side their most recent effort. Not many bands have a long career but it’s safe to say that The Steepwater Band are making music that not only do they love, but the fans also appreciate.
This lead into another popular song from Clava, High and Humble. With one of the coolest intros, this was another song that had everyone moving and bobbing around. Of course, you couldn’t help but sing along to the chorus, “High and Humble, sittin’ in the corner with a smile on your face.” I should also mention, by this point in the night, Jeff had been using three different slides. During various songs, he achieved various tones from using either a clear glass, a metal or a ceramic slide. To close out the night, the last song on the set list was listed as, “Cortez the Killer w/ 4 Guitar Army.” Another Neil Young cover that also included Edward David Anderson and Davy Knowles on guitar. With four guitar players on stage, everyone got their own time to shine and Jeff and Edward David traded off singing verses.
All in all it was an amazing night of music from a band that not only has a rich past, but a very bright future. Purchase Shake Your Faith on iTunes, Amazon or Google Play or order physical copies (CD and vinyl) on the band’s website here. The Steepwater Band are headed overseas for a 6 week run but keep an eye out here for upcoming U.S. dates.