Conscious American Roots – Steven Graves Band

An interview by Julie Horner with Steven Graves originally published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin:

Local musician, Steven Graves, and I caught up with each other to chat about his band’s recent appearance at the Trout Farm Inn and to share thoughts about his music, spirituality, and life!

Julie:  How was your show at the Trout Farm Inn on Dec. 6th?

Steven:  Great. I love the Trout Farm, it is such a special place to play!  Great vibe, warm audience, and a classic historic ambiance make for a very relaxing and intimate place to play.  The owners, Kelly and Yvonne, are really super nice people and I love supporting them. The band sounded great and everyone had a blast!

Julie:  You seem to have a good connection with the San Lorenzo Valley?

Steven: Yes. Besides the Trout Farm, our band has also played Don Quixote’s many times and we love it there as well. I love walking through Henry Cowell and hanging out with the old growth trees and the river. I also got very familiar with the valley through my 25+ years as a land use contultant before I retired to become a full time musician.

Julie:  How has that been for you transitioning from a long time business owner and consultant to a professional musician?

Steven: Well, you know I had this dream of being a professional musician and dedicating myself to my passion for most of my life. In 2011 I finally decided to make the leap of faith and close my office doors and jump into it!!  Kind of a “now or never moment.”  It has been amazing. Certainly not without its challenges but to be able to write, perform and produce my own music and tour the entire West Coast with my awesome band has just been incredible.

Julie: And I understand your band has been touring extensively this year as well?

Steven: This year we toured Oregon and Arizona twice and played venues throughout Northern California. Going on the road with my band has been awesome! We have seen some amazingly beautiful parts of the country, and everywhere we go we find the audiences who often haven’t heard us really becoming engaged in the music. That is the real magic, to feel and watch that happen reinforces our belief in the power of this music!  I’ve also been working with Dennis McNally, the Grateful Dead’s publicist. He helped us get our last CD to #5 on the music chart! We’ve also gotten some great writeups in Relix Magazine, the Grateful Web and several other publications!

Julie:  I sense that you are the kind of person who truly “walks the talk” and believes in putting your heart and passion into everything you do. What motivates you?

Steven: Thank you. Yes, I think it’s all about authenticity when you get down to it.  I think that we are all authentic beings at our core but often life in all its complexities and drama wears that part of us down and popular culture doesn’t support that kind of thing.  I feel so grateful that I can use the medium of music to share with the world sound, vibration and lyrical insights that hopefully makes for a better life experience.  I know that it helps me. I like the idea of “music as medicine” and keeping it fun, too!

Julie:  I noticed after listening to your latest CD, Mission Bell, which I understand is your 6th CD. While your music is old school in its approach, blending a bit of Country and Folk Rock with a smattering of an almost Grateful Dead feel, your lyrics seem to have a spiritual orientation.

Steven: Yes, that’s right. Again, it comes back to that authenticity idea. While there are only so many notes, in a way no music is completely original.  I get comparisons to Neil Young, Dylan, the Dead, the Eagles and others, but rarely does anyone think that we are copying any one style. I like to allow the music to channel through me, and I try to stay out of the way, so to speak.

The world has plenty of songs about negative things or themes that are repeated over and over. For me, I feel like my role as an artist and a conscious human being is to try share something that I have learned through my life’s experience. It’s a rough time on planet Earth!  How do we get up every morning in this chaotic world and create a loving and peaceful journey? How do we navigate this world in a way that we treat everyone we meet with love and respect? Really, there is an endless source of lyrical and musical inspiration when you dive into these meaning-of-life issues. I think that people really are craving and needing authenticity!

Julie:  So what’s on the horizon for you and your music?

Steven: I’m working on a new record, which is really exciting, and I’m loving where the music is going! We’ll be expanding our touring in 2016 to include several more West Coast states, some great festivals, and we’ll be doing some local shows too!

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Julie Horner is an Irish style musician and writer based in the Santa Cruz Mountains, CA.