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Steepwater floods into Oklahoma (Sep 11, 2012)

Singer, songwriter, guitarist and rocker Jeff Massey grew up in the shadow of the blues. But for this Chicagoan, the influence of what one might consider a birthright came by way of the classic rock and metal he consumed as a teen. As he told KGOU’s Jim Johnson on The Weekend Blues, “the older I got, I started to realize where things came from… and the more I got into blues, it just overtook everything”.

Massey didn’t see this blues epiphany as a reason to shun his earlier influences, but rather as a way to consolidate them.

“Any kind of music that I like has some kinda source from the blues,” Massey said.

Massey realized his full vision in 1998, when he and his close friends and musical collaborators, bassist Joe Winters and drummer Tod Bowers, decided to truly forge their own musical path.

“We formed from the ashes of a blues band and decided (we wanted) to write some songs together and form an original band,” Massey said.

Ever since, The Steepwater Band (as they are known) has taken “that blues foundation and we write songs… If it feels right to us, we just go with it.”

The band’s latest CD Clava (pronounced ‘CLAY-vuh) is a solid example of just how well Jeff and crew allowed their inner blues demons to shine through a rock n’ roll veneer. The 10-song set, recorded at a now-closed studio, inspired the album’s name.

“It sounded great and had the right vibe”, Massey said.

“It was just one of those rooms that had that sound, as soon as you hit a chord it was like, ‘Yeah this is gonna work!‘”

It wasn’t long after the album’s 2011 release when The Steepwater Band gained a fourth member. Eric Saylors was a guitarist for the band Healing Sixes from Indianapolis, Indiana. Saylor befriended the members of “Steepwater” and began to share the stage with the trio when the group passed through his town.

“Eric would come and sit in for fun” said Massey.

“And, when he would sit in, he would want to do our songs. He’d be like, ‘I know that song off the record. (Let’s) do that!’ It’s like he’s been there the whole time.”

Earlier this year, the group formalized this relationship by inviting Saylors to join them on their musical journey… a trek which has led them this week to Oklahoma.

Tonight finds them in Stillwater at the Stonewall Tavern, and Thursday the group makes a final Oklahoma stop at the Colony in Tulsa, before travelling on.

Their’s is a life on the road, only pausing briefly to catch up with friends and family back home.

“It’s the old cliché,” Massey said.

“When you’re at home you want to be on the road, and when you’re on the road, you want to be home. We make it work somehow.”

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