Chicago’s The Steepwater Band have a pretty busy touring schedule, so they don’t play the area as regularly as they once did. However, when they do, fans and friends alike show up for what always turns out to be a good time. This particular night was also a celebration as it was drummer, Joe Winters’ wedding anniversary. (He had previously gotten married at the same venue five years earlier and The Steepwater Band were also the entertainment that night.)
On a Saturday, with a room full of family, friends and fans of the band, the night started off with Chicago locals, Nick Moss Band. Listed as rock and roll with soul and blues with a groove, they were just that. They lead the crowd down a path of musical expression that left everyone wanting more than their hour long set. With songs that made you want to move and some with lyrics that made you reflect, the band was a great compliment to the night. Everyone in attendance also got a real treat. Kofi Baker, son of Cream’s Ginger Baker, played drums along with Jeff Massey from The Steepwater Band for a cover of Cream’s Politician. Nick Moss and Jeff Massey shared both signing and guitar duties.
After a fairly quick change, The Steepwater Band started their set with a new song, Silver Lining, released on their Diamond Days: Best Of CD earlier this year. It wasn’t apparent yet, but it really set the tone for the night. They played songs that were a couple levels up from laid back with the occasional “let’s get down” groove. They also played a few covers, the first being Rhapsody in Red by Jerry Garcia Band which also showcased a mini solo from each member of the band.
Jeff Massey, lead singer/guitarist dedicated One Way Ride to drummer, Joe Winters and his wife Angela, for their fifth wedding anniversary. The next dedication from Jeff was a song he referred to as Sugar Buns, really Sugar Mama, a Sonny Boy Williamson cover, to Nick Moss. These two bands are no strangers to each other and I got the impression this could be an inside joke. Regardless, they knocked it out of the park. You’ve got to love a band that has a firm grasp on rock n roll with enough knowledge and love for the blues to make their transition between songs appear seamless.
Not one to shy away from their back catalog, Jeff Massey and Eric Saylor’s guitar work on Dance Me a Number from Revelation Sunday felt as if the notes were dancing in and out and around everyone in the room. Make no mistake, even though this two-guitar band is definitely heavy on the guitar work, depending on the song, Jeff and Eric traded off lead with effortless motion. They truly compliment each other as much as any other famous guitar duo out there. In fact, this band plays so well together, they are like a well oiled machine. While Joe keeps the beat, bassist Tod Bowers works in tandem to keep that steady flowing groove at a constant all night long.
They continued with High and Humble from Clava before heading into World Keeps Moving On from Grace and Melody. With the haunting intro, “Cocaine, yeah cocaine, was never good to me,” it gradually eased into some of the most amazing guitar playing I have ever heard. Okay, I admit it, it’s my favorite song of theirs, but trust me, listen to it and it might just become your favorite too. For their new arrangement of Hard As Stone, Eric put down the guitar and sat down with a lap steel. It’s always cool to see bands that incorporate instruments you aren’t always expecting. All the Way to Nowhere lead into two more from Clava, the super groovy Remember the Taker and the super funky Come On Down. Tod initially played alone and the amount of funky coming from his fingers made anyone want to get up and dance. In fact, many in the crowd gathered in front of the stage to do just that.
After an hour and a half, they asked Nick Moss to come up and play guitar. It didn’t take long before they decided on a cover of Key to the Highway that included solos from Nick, Eric and Jeff. Nick was planning to leave the stage, but they asked him to play one more. This time it took a little longer to decide what to play. Once again, they nailed the cover of Bob Dylan’s It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry. I appreciate bands that cover bands that came before them. Bottom line, if you like your rock n roll with a heavy influence on the blues, not to mention some killer slide guitar playing, be sure and check out The Steepwater Band. They’re currently on tour through October. Find all dates here.