You know what I reckon? Devizes is in for a treat next Friday 12th, courtesy of the Cellar Bar, when Orange County multi-talented musician Steve Maggiora visits for an exclusive trio gig with Jon Amor and Mark Barrett. I reckon, no, I now know this because I’m listening, as I write, to his emotional rock ballads I’ve found online, and it’s good ol’ high quality easy-on-the-ear US rock, akin to Springsteen or Tom Petty.
As I wrote, the third track of his album, “When I get you Alone,” marched on with a funky intro; oh, there’s a clear soul and jazzy, Herbie Hancock fashioned influence thrown in too, methinks.
Darn, I’ve got to alter my notes; it’s feel-good pop rock, but as Springsteen did with his early Asbury Park circuit work, there’s a clear funky soul spur thrown in, perhaps more than that, a larger sprinkling of a sound reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield seems to intensify as it progresses. With the only cover track on the album being a funky upbeat Don’t Know Why, Nora Jones rendition, Steve graces this contemporary pop sound and mate, I kid you not, it’s groovetastic with a blues nod.
Leaves me pondering who’d he’d cite as his influences. I’d have to badger the man himself as he wakes up in Dublin this morning! Phew, “I love your comparisons!” Steve told me, “Some of my major influences lately are Tom Petty, Marc Broussard, Allen Stone, Robert Jon & The Wreck.”
Passionately, despite about to head out from an airport to his air B&B, Steve continues, “As far as this new record, Hearts & Scars goes, my producer, Jon O’Brien, and I were referencing Fleetwood Mac, Dawes, and Tom Petty for the overall sound of the record.” But, no mimicking, it’s a uniquely creative sound; what was his thought process during its creation?
“The intention of this record was to get myself back to song writing that is honest, and maybe not the easiest to put into words. Songs of love, loss, loneliness – which is can be a beautiful and/or tragic thing depending on what your perspective is. My 2016 record, which we will also be performing cuts off of – I’ll have both records for sale at the show – touched on that a bit with songs like ‘Middle Of Night’ and ‘Only’, however was focused more towards the funky/sexy/sexually driven tunes such as ‘When I Get You Alone’, ‘Freak In The Sheets’, and ‘You Know You Want It (Cause It’s Big)’, which have all been great crowd pleasers over the last few years. For “Hearts & Scars” though, I really wanted to embrace the harder things to say, in a still groovy way that I hope will resonate with people.”
I hope so too, on one listen I’m harking back to Marvin Gaye, mixed with aforementioned rock icons, Fleetwood Mac and Petty. I’m glad to get this opportunity to chat with him, as Steve is a workhorse, prolifically recording and endlessly touring, but we seem to have the only gig listed on his website, in England. “Is that right,” I asked him, “has Devizes got an exclusive show, and if so, how did this come about?” Over a gig in London or Bristol or wherever, where, judging by the highly polished and universally appealing quality of his sound, he’d go down a storm.
“Yes, the Devizes gig will be a one-off,” Steve explains, “which I’m very much looking forward to! I was on tour earlier in September with Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse, [who appeared at the Sports Club, if you cast your mind back to our review] which is where I first met and got to play with Jon Amor and Mark Barrett. After meeting Mirko through them during the time we were in Devizes, he offered a night for us to do a trio. The reason for only the one show is that I’m currently in between tours – having started with Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse from September, I continued with one of my main bands, Robert Jon & The Wreck from 18 Oct-19 Nov across mainland Europe, followed by a private event in the Philippines, and then two shows in Tokyo at the end of November before heading back to the US.” You see where I was going when I said “workhorse” now, eh?
“I had originally planned to do a solo tour across UK and EU in between tours,” he continued, “however that did not pan out as it would have been too expensive to fly out band members from the US and hard to book a solo act for a first run; hence why I’m so excited for 12 Oct!”
I’m digging it man, totals. It’s tagged at just £8 on the door; jot in your diary, for Steve considers this his “first true non-work vacation I’ve taken as an adult,” so it should be the informal relaxed gig we’ve come to expect from The Cellar Bar and Mirko.
“It’s really nice to unplug for a bit and jet set,” Steve finished on, “Music is a truly wonderful thing, an international language,” he expresses, “and truly brings people together. Having met Jon for the first time here in the UK just a few weeks ago, Mark a few weeks before that in the US, it’s been incredible getting to share the stage with them on this last tour, and I’m very much looking forward to sharing the stage with them again!”