Published on October 12th, 2012 | by Ballard Lesemann0
Steven Fiore Gets Theatrical
Charleston-based pop songwriter Steven Fiore has developed a romantic and theatrical notion how to make the big shows count. A few years ago, he regularly played out as a solo singer/guitarist at little bar and club gigs around town, mixing his melodic original stuff with standard rock and pop covers. These days, however, he’s an independent and prolific songsmith operating far away from the old bar circuit.
“I’ve always kind of wanted to be the Andy Kaufman of music,” Fiore says. “I just want to have that feeling and do things differently. I want to do weird things. Like, doing a show doesn’t always have to just be a bar show. I want to make a record release party an actual party and an actual event. I’ve done those regular gigs before. Now I want to do it differently.”
Fiore recorded several batches of songs in the last five years, and he self-released most of them as online albums. The Makeshift EP made a splash in 2007. Released in 2010, the five-song country/Americana collection Country Music was an acoustic guitar-based affair. The more pop-oriented Words and Numbers hot the web last year. His forthcoming album, Youth and Magic, is an elaborate studio production due in the spring. Nashville-based producer/engineer Taylor Bray has been at the helm.
“Youth and Magic has been in the works for a couple of years,” Fiore says. “I’ve been working on this new one for a while. Taylor has had a lot of say. We’ve worked together in Nashville over the years. He’s really great. He’s been very patient with me over the last year and a half.”
Fiore was reading Steve Martin’s recent autobiography Born Standing Up when he came upon the title of his new album. “Steve is a personal hero of mine. I love him. I have all of his comedy albums on vinyl. When I got to the chapter where he was doing his first high school production as a magician, he called it ‘Youth and Magic.’ I thought, ‘That is a record name if I’ve ever heard one.’ So it’s sort of paying homage to him.”
Fiore and his bandmates — drummer Michael McCrea and bassist Mannie Schumpert — have big plans in the works for the official release of Youth and Magic. “It’ll be something big, a major event,” Fiore says. “We have to add strings this fall, and then do the mixing and mastering.”
A variety of studio musicians and old friends chipped in on the forthcoming album. Matt Bohli, a drummer Fiore used to play with during a brief stint in Boston a few years ago, came down and provided a lot of the drum tracks. “I actually played drums on one song, a really simple song in 6/8 time,” Fiore says. “We had a guy play piano and tubular church bells. I did all of the guitars and vocals, and Haley Shaw added some back-up vocals, too.”
Fiore obviously enjoys his new routine as a working songwriter. He recently signed on to pitch songs to the Universal Music Publishing team. He writes, records, and performs his own material (often with a solid backing trio) around the Southeast on his own terms. Over the last year, he’s played at a number out-of-the-norm venues like PURE Theater, the College of Charleston’s Communication Museum, and the Hippodrome.
This Saturday (Oct. 13), he and his bandmates will join Shaw and pianist Andrew Walker and cellist Lonnie Root of the experimental Entropy Ensemble on the Charleston Music Hall stage for yet another unique concert.
“Andrew and Lonnie are the main guys in Entropy Ensemble, and they really focus on song arrangements,” Fiore says. “Michael and Manny play with me just about everywhere. For this show, we’ll all do some of my old stuff, songs from my new record, and songs that haven’t been recorded and released yet. You’ll get to hear where I was, where I am currently, and where I’ll be next.”
This weekend’s concert well be the first time Fiore and his bandmates have partnered with the Entropy Ensemble camp. It could be challenging to recreate some of the fancy studio stylings and instrumentation of Fiore’s recent recordings, but he’s not worried about it at all. In fact, he’s more excited about this show than any of the other theater events he’s done so far this year.
“We’ve been able to recreate much of it in rehearsals for this show,” he says. “At the Charleston Music Hall, it’ll be like the Entropy Ensemble minus their drummer and bassist [Stuart White and Ben Wells], and a guest violinist sitting in for Javier Orman, who’s about to be a dad out in Los Angeles. Andrew and I have been working up some new arrangements for strings and keys, so that will be cool. It’s been sounding good, and I can’t wait to play with everyone on that stage.”
Steven Fiore and the Entropy Ensemble perform at the Charleston Music Hall at 8 p.m. on Sat. Oct. 13. Prayer and Tears open the show. Admission is $15 at the door and $10 in advance. Students with ID can purchase a ticket for $12. Visit stevenfiore.bandcamp.com and entropyensemble.com for more.
Here’s a teaser clip of Fiore performing the song “Little Prince” with Shaw and Walker, shot on the Charleston Music Hall stage earlier this month:
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