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Story Behind the Song - "Something Summer" 

I've had most of the tracks for "Something Summer" recorded for quite some time. Then I put the song away to come back to at a later date. 

Well, the years passed. Until...

One day, my good friend, Penny Greene from Decades of Rock and Roll Oldies Cruise needed a song to replace the one she was using for her yearly promo video for her highly successful music cruise she sponsors and organizes every year. So she asked me if I had a song that would work. The closest one I had was "Something Summer", but I just didn't think the lyrics fit just yet. If fact, I wasn't happy with all the lyrics I had anyway, so the song got put into the "archives".

Penny loved the song, and since she loves playing with words as much as I do, I ask if she would like to help with the re-write. i.e. Just wanting to simply say, basically, "Man, I'm tired of this dreary, icy cold weather. I'm ready for some sun". By the time we get to the third verse he/she is already there! 

So here we are! A song brought to life from the archives.

"Chase the sun, hear the sea, feel that sand beneath our feet!"

It's as simple as that!

The album cover photo is one of 1,000's taken during the 2018 cruise by Kathy Rankin.

Listen now! CLICK HERE!

....And now, a few brief moments in the studio during the work on "Something Summer".

 

Pacific Amphitheatre Show - July 4th, 2019 

Sharing the stage with the Pacific Amphitheatre was quite a thrill. And to do it in my own backyard, sort of speak, was a privilege. The Pacific Amphitheatre? No way!

Well, yes, way. A July 4th to remember for sure! 

Here I am singing "Desperado" in front of a live orchestra. OMGee! Thanks to Ken Yoshida for this photo. 

Here are some photos I took:

Here's To 2020! 

Look at my exciting new purchase!  

I'm going back to paper - large paper. In the last year I've upped my skill level not only in songwriting, but composing (TV cues - and whatever else transpires in 2020) I foresee some erasing and post-it-notes activity to keep track of numerous projects going on at the same time. (In between the touring schedule, of course).

Back Home Again in Downey, California 

Well, the Downey Theatre show was quite fun and rewarding. I saw most of early years in Downey flashing before my eyes after the show! 

Of course, members of my family were there that could make it. But then there's fellow past students and friends from Tot-Time (Pre-Kindergarten!), Kindergarten, and from all the years of Elementary, Middle, and High school! 

BELOW: From the small stage on the left in the 70's, to the big stage in middle in the present!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BELOW: And with a different band, I've played on stage-right stage as well in my younger years!

BELOW: It has been brought to my attention, the middle stage hosted the Warren High Jazz Ensemble way-back-when, which I was a part of on guitar!BELOW: Looking out from the backstage, over on the right, the Downey City Library. I was just a little Stevie when I went here. I believe there is now a small display of "The Carpenters" memorabilia. They were from my town and lived here unbeknownst to me at first while I was working on my guitar skills in my bedroom on the other town side of town. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below photos: Joyce Rybold

And then there's the NEWSPAPER ARTICLE! Check it out HERE

Story Behind The Song - MY HAPPY PLACE 

The blog series that highlights a selected song from my latest album, "III" 

Episode 2 : MY HAPPY PLACE

The seed of this tune came firstly not from artistic inspiration - "Oh, I must capture this song immediately while the muse flows freely through my ever-sensitive creative soul!!" - Oh no, my friends.

There's a song that I really like by Christ Stapleton called, "Whisky and Me". I decided one day to take the form of the song, rhyme scheme, etc and just write something in the same pattern. As an exercise and a way to "jump start" the writing process. First thing I did was search for a title with the same syllables as "whisky and me" from list of title ideas I'm constantly adding to. I decided on "My Happy Place". I then flipped the sentiment - the former song was sad, mine would be happy.

Click play:

I just started my usual "just writing anything until something sticks" (if anything even would that day). I remember sitting on the floor, "reaching" for the possible song that might be floating around "in the room". Stuff started appearing on my yellow pad:

"Fridge is humming" ?- We have an older fridge thta keeps chuggin along!
 "Browning onions smell like heaven in a pan"? True story. Love it.
"Pillow laying on the floor" - There it was to my left, the couch throw pillow
"That Christmas present that never made it out the door"? There it was, over to my right. 
"Puppy paws" - 2 dogs, 8 paws in the household!

The "tie comes off" bit is a bit of a fabrication. I don't wear a tie and come home from the office every day. (Although I've been know to wear one onstage)

In many songs, the "hook" comes right at the beginning of the chorus. I let "My Happy Place" close out every verse.

The stuff about Disney and New York City in the bridge? That's me. My happy places. But the bridge closes out with very best kind of "happy place"

And of course, the ultimate "happy place" in Verse 3.

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It was suggested in a songwriting critique session to rewrite the bridge. But I left it as is to move to another song. Someone else may not want to recorded it, but it has a whole not of "me" in it, so I figured I'd keep it for myself.

-----

There you have it! A song that might never have been born that day if I hadn't practiced a little pro-writer discipline and shown up to the solo "writing session"! 

Check out the photo below. I was surprised to be reminded in my scribblings that "My Happy Place" started at the beach but ended up in the living room! 

I love songwriting! How about you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's the song pattern inspiration for "My Happy Place":

Get the album "III" HERE

What Are You Doing...? 

I’ve changed home my morning routine a bit (at least at home) that has been a little more fruitful in the songwriting department. It’s real easy to sit back, sipping coffee, relax, and read whatever in the early hours, then get to the real work. 

After opening my Bible app to the living words therein for a spiritual realignment, instead of letting emails and social media fill my head with all kinds of stuff (not all bad but still “stuff”) during my second cup of coffee, I get out my yellow legal pad and just start writing – anything. Without an expectation of how good it’s going to be. 

(I use the Masterwriter app as well for writing. But by using a yellow legal pad first, I feel sort of like a painter on a canvas. Good old pencil and paper!) 

I’ve got a assorted lists on paper and on just about every electronic device I own full of song titles, one line descriptions of “life scenes”, paragraphs, newspaper articles, the list goes on. I just pick one idea and start writing something underneath it, even if it’s bad. And most times I get something I can build upon in the coming mornings or whenever it’s lyric writing time. 
(In the photo on the right, Duff has no idea how brilliant I am!)

After my morning idea brainstorming, I continue on to a physical workout of some sort.

I guess you could describe my "workout" routine as follows:
1. Spiritual
2. Mental
3. Physical

A recent example that got me all excited and I felt like a songwriter again. It started with something I wrote down, at least a year ago if not more, “Came home to the Santa Anas, whipping up a tune”. True story. (Around where I live, we can get some strong winds - the Santa Anas.)

That’s it! 

As an embryo of a lyric formed, when I got to scribblings for the second part of the verse – What rhymes with Santa Anas? Well…Pollyanna. Okay, this is getting interesting I think to myself. 

What ends up happening, a place, a story, etc appears, and then it seems I have a lyric slowly being wrapped inside a melody. 

Then the second part of the verse with the word “Pollyanna” in it develops a life all it’s own and seems better now as the chorus; the hook of the song. And there’s my song title: “Pollyanna”. And off I go to Wikipedia for "Pollyanna" references.

The thing about these songwriting exercises as I’ve described above is, for me, building the discipline to sit down and just write without expectations opens up my eyes, my ears, and my heart to life around me as I go about my day. I feel I could write a song of just about anything or at the very least, write down one line to use later. 

It almost becomes a welcome “sickness”. I’m a words hoarder! 

3 Tweets (Say 5 Times Fast!) 

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Here are some "awesome" highlights from this past week:

Book Quotes - A Moveable Feast 

Sub-heading: Books I've read. 

This installment of "Book Quotes" is brought to you by "A Moveable Feast"  by Ernest Hemingway

This book made a great souvenir as I was walking the streets of Paris in May/June of 2017. I purchased it at the infamous "Shakespeare and Company" book store in the City of Lights.

 

 

 

 

 

 


On writing in Paris...

Sadness of Fall, but there's always Spring...

This was basically our same path we walked every day down to the city sights...

"...I could never be lonely along the river [Seine]"

Hey, Louie! Can I Get A Photo With You? 

Here's a selfie with cameraman/artiste', Luis Fuerte. He spent 19 years as camera operator for PBS TV host, Huell Howser, who I previously posted about HERE.

 

 

His book signing event at Galleano Winery near my home brought plenty of behind-the-scenes stories to share with those of us in attendance. 

 

 

 

 

We had a nice one-on-one chat about another rewarding time he had, outside of working with Huell, when he was asked to travel with and film an orchestra. He may have said the LA Phil, but I can't remember. He spoke about working the camera as if it was an art form, not just "filming" an event. 

Check out his book!

New CD Album Released! 

All written, recorded, and produced between 2008-2017 by Steve Probst 
All vocals, instruments, and drum programming by Steve Probst 
Cover photo by Ann Conibear Roberts

I was inspired to write a ukulele song when it was popular, so bought a decent uke, wrote a song, and recorded it! (Your welcome) 
Get my “Randy Newman” on? No problem 
If there’s a song written in 2011 that you need to sound like the 80’s, I’m your guy! 
Like Blues Rock? Got some of that, too. 
And what’s not to love about a couple of Jazz/Rock guitar instrumentals complete with guitar solos? 
A song for a documentary about water? Got shoulder deep with this one. 

Click over to my STORE PAGE to get yours!


Hope you enjoy the music! 
~ Steve

The Road Is Full Of Surprises 

The road is full of surprises. 

What was once a nice peacefully whimsical night time city view of downtown Wilmington, NC from the 5th floor, which I really was enjoying, turned into the majestic Jurassic Period outside my window the next morning. Started after 7am, mainly with a reverberating, earth-trembling, mega-thud. From my horizontal position on dreamy king-size sheets, I felt the Hilton, the whole building, actually bounce a second or two.

Bulldozers resembling the skeletons of menacing T-rex's commenced to munching on demolition-size, concrete parking structure tidbits. Was probably going to go on the whole day, too. No use trying to sleep. No, that's okay, I only got to bed by 2am. 

1.... hour... later.... [Say with fake French accent ala Sponge Bob Square Pants]

Okay, they delightfully change my room to across the hall. And how fitting since it was now gazing upon the Cape Fear River on Halloween day!!

Moral of the story, I guess: Do not be afraid of change or...clean your room when you have company (readers) over.

Book Quotes - The Monuments Men 

Sub-heading: Books I've read. 

This installment of "Book Quotes" is brought to you by "The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History"  by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter

Ever since reading that George Patton book, I suddenly find myself with somewhat of an interest in WW2 history. The basic gist of this book: soldiers on a mission to save the great works of art stolen by the Nazis.

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"It is amazing how the world can change, he thought, during the life span of a fruitcake."

"I believe that all this loveliness showing through the rubble and wreck are just foreshadowings of the joys we were made for.”

Baseball:

"During the Bulge, Posey told him, the Germans had parachuted troops behind Allied lines dressed in American uniforms. The only way to find them out was to ask questions on strictly American topics, like baseball. The Germans were always clueless."

New York City:

"To see a painting of this quality leaning against the wall of a command post amid the bullets and the grime was to understand that great works of art were part of the world. They were objects. They were fragile. They were lonely, small, unprotected. A child on a playground looks strong, but a child wandering alone down Madison Avenue in New York City—that’s terrifying."

It was so cool reading this book and THEN taking a trip to Paris, staying in the Latin Quarter! :

"First Lieutenant James Rorimer rode his bicycle to Rose Valland’s apartment in the fifth arrondissement, an ancient section of Paris known as the Latin Quarter. The quarter had been popular with tourists before the war, but few tourists, Rorimer suspected, had ever visited Valland’s middle-class residential area, a lonely and secluded stretch just beyond the site of a massive fire started by German bombardment in August 1944."

 

"Sometimes, Rose Valland thought as the snows of December 1944 floated down around her, your destiny is thrust upon you." (Photo on left - Translation: "Hero of the Arts")

 

"Destiny is not one push, she thought as she waited to cross a quiet street on that cold Paris evening years later, but a thousand small moments that through insight and hard work you line up in the right direction, like a magnet does with metal shavings."

The 70's Rock and Romance of a Paying Gig and Unlimited Baked Fish 

I did some work this past March with a band some of you may have heard of (Hotel California - A Salute to the Eagles). And wouldn't you know, it was on a cruise ship!

Dang. I hate warm tropical winds and an unlimited supply of bright blue seas.

All kidding aside, and i do mean "kidding", there were some other guest musicians performing on the Celebrity Summit you may have heard of as well; Peter Frampton, The Orchestra (former ELO members), Stephen Bishop, Christopher Cross, Chuck Negron (3 Dog Night); and a couple other talented tribute bands channeling (like the water reference?) Elton John and the Bee Gees.

Fun! And no one in our entourage got seasick in the making of this little side work event to Cozumel and Key West. I'm sure there's room on the 2018 edition of this rocking time on the high sea, but unfortunately, Hotel California won't be on this particular journey to sandy shores and salad bar dreams.

We're on this one instead! CLICK HERE

Wait don't go! Here are some home slides (Just a few):


Rock & Romance Cruise 2017

An Evening With Jimmy Webb (And Look - There's Henry!) 

I snatched up a couple of tickets right away (After the Am Express pre-sale). I knew it would sell out quickly. "An Evening With Jimmy Webb - GRAMMY Museum"

Here was chance to see and hear, up close and personal, Jimmy Webb; legendary songwriter of "By the Time I get to Phoenix", "Wichita Lineman", "Up, Up, and Away", "MacArthur Park."....list goes on. 

Got to meet Jimmy too and get his new book personally autographed! 

Do you know how many times this song below has been recorded? Wow!

Added extra bonus. Standing behind the portable and expandable black nylon security fence was iconic photographer, Henry Diltz.   

I was just waiting patiently in line for Mr. Webb and I see this unique-looking guy holding a camera and I google his name right then and there. Sure enough! It was him! Did I say anything to him? No? [Kicks self] Ha Ha. As a much younger guy, I was listening to albums, looking at album covers, and reading his name E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. 

Perhaps' like me, you have seen some these, his classic shots of music. 

An "Evening" At Notre Dame - Paris 

On the last day of our trip to Paris, as I had just exited a gift shop (somewhere around where this crooked window photo on the left was taken) ......I get a message from our Airbnb host,

 "Hi Steve, I heard about the terrorist attack in front of Notre Dame. I hope you are fine. Any way I heard that only the terrorist was injured. Just try to avoid Notre Dame area because around that area I heard that everything is blocked..."

I can't say I was surprise. Alarmed, but not surprised. A lone, hammer-wielding man attacks police and is very quickly brought down. 

Okay, so when returning to our rented place, we'll go around the area.

Then we realized, "What about the concert we had tickets for that same evening being held inside the gargoyle protected cathedral?"

On our way back to our "home" area across Point de Sully and over the tiny island of île Saint-Louis, back to the Latin Quarter, we passed police directed traffic jams. (Below)

Somber, overcast sky hangs over Notre Dame just hours after the incident. (Below)

Stopping at our favorite, La Methode Restaurant, we pondered our next adventure. Will the concert go on? Would the performers bow out? Our waitress, as well as an employee who just arrived, said they'd probably have the square in front of Notre Dame closed. I called Shakespeare & Company book store near the river Seine (a prior visit told me they spoke English) to have them tell me it looks like the area is open. 

We decided to see for ourselves. 

We were rewarded with an amazing experience. Under heavy security, the likes of which I have never seen before in person, all patrons were ushered into a side door. The concert, Ordo Virtutum by Hildegarde Von Bingen, would go on! (see below) (I filmed a short video excerpt of concert at very bottom of this post)
[Ordo Virtutum is about the struggle for a human soul, or Anima, between the Virtues and the Devil...] *Wikipedia . 

With the cathedral's outside perimeter bathed in a halo of armed police, the vocalists on the altar, and vocalists entering from behind, it was as though angels were all around us! 

Still trying to put this night into words, but I'll just say that I felt part of a world of peace-loving citizens who aren't about to let the evil in the world win out, because in the end, it doesn't! 

Heading back to dessert (and a beer for me), we passed a welcomed line of vehicles manned by the men and women who deal with this on the front lines every day. (see below)

We were safe and I was so deeply moved by this, our last evening in the City of Light.

ThrowBackThursday - What A Night For "Promises, Promises"! 

ThrowBackThursday Post- Looking back on a blog post of recent yesteryear (and bringing it over from the old website for further reference). 2009.
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On a whim, I "splurged" and procured for myself a seat to see, Krisitin Chenoweth in "Promise, Promises" at the Broadway Theatre this past week.
 
I am both a fan of Kristin's (since discovering her from "Wicked") AND the tunes of Burt Bacharach/Hal David.  To hear them both at the same time was indeed a treat for me!
 
Of course, a trip to the stage door after the show was in order!  Something that is so easy to do on Broadway since the venues' stage doors spill right out onto the street.  Now, here's a tip (and reminder for me next time) if you want to do the same for an autograph:
 
Get by the back-stage door earlier right after the show and get right up against the barricade.  I was approximately 2 & 1/2 people behind (not far at all actually).  I was close enough to see Kristin's gracious, smiling face and her perfectly crafted eyebrows, but not close enough for her to reach my Playbill for a quick black-sharpie squiggle of acknowledgement and thanks.
 
Now I could have been rude and lowered it into the faces of fans in front of me, but that didn't seem right.  And Kristin is quite tiny and I supposed reaching up would have been a little difficult and, quite possibly, a little unsafe for her.  So a gaze upon her presence amidst the hoopla that goes with it will have to suffice.
 
She signed just enough momentos before being whisked away in a black Audi sedan which sequence of events went like this:
 
1. All the actors, ensemble, main characters (Sean Hayes being one of them - but hey, I'm a guy, and Kristien's better lookin') exit the theatre.
 
SIDE NOTE: It's interesting, maybe a little sad, that the amazingly talented ensemble players just kind of saunter out one-by-one in their sweats or whatever street clothes and everyone pretty much just watches them walk out into the late-night NYC city streets.
 
2. Tall serious-looking guy enters black Audi parked in front of the stage door and starts car, lights on, and goes back into the theatre back-stage door.
 
 
3. Out comes KC to fan cheers, with said body guard and another guy carrying her small dog who stands by the car in waiting while she proceeds to sign various sized paper and cardstock items.

 
There she is next to bodyguard with assistant in background holding her Maltese, "Maddie"
 


4. Then off she goes "whisked away in a black Audi sedan."


So there you have it.  An inspiring night at the theatre for me!  On broadway, no less!
 
Next thing on my list,  buy the soundtrack.
 

Where Do We Go Now? - I Survived a Guns N' Roses Concert 

Well,

My daughter asked me if I wanted to see Guns N' Roses with her. My initial inward response was probably no, but my photo below proves otherwise. Ha ha

Notwithstanding their preoccupation with sketchy artistic subject matter, I enjoyed watching frontman Axl Rose summon his inner child on the Qualcomm Stadium mega-stage in San Diego. Running around the stage like a banshee, I joined in with him as fellow older dude just still celebrating being able to have a good old time. I've heard people complain he's put on a few pounds since their heyday, but since I was never a fan and never had that basis of comparison, of the skinnier days, the "he's older" issue didn't bother me.  

Slash, IS an amazing guitarist. I never paid attention to him before.

Duff is stellar bassist as well, and kudos to him for keeping in shape and staying healthy. I recently read his book: "How To Be A Man: (And other illusions)

The last words:

Being the last stop on this tour through North America, before leaving the stage, Axl says, “Thank you, North America.” And then throws down his mic stand w/mic attached to the ground and walks off, stage left. Thank you America, indeed. 

Though we were dead center, but way in the back, the humongous video screens gives you a good view of the action. Makes me want to go see the Rolling Stones now in the same type of setting sometime before Keith Richards falls out of another palm tree and really hurts himself. 

I’ve never been a fan, but I can go as an observer (of people, their reactions, what are their stories); a learner; an appreciator of cool entertainment technologies; a performer [what’s it like in their shoes...or boots]; a thinker on how culture is affected so strongly by music and the artists who create it; and as a believer in the life hereafter and in a Creator God gives the ability for all of the above. 

No need to knock on heaven's door, boys....just answer it when He calls. 

The Humble & "Amazing" Legacy of Huell Howser 

PBS TV host, Huell Howser was known and loved by many Californians as well as myself. You could watch his slow-paced, down-home, totally family-friendly program and suddenly all was right with the world. He passed away sadly in 2013, so this past Summer I went to visit his archives all donated by Huell himself to Chapman University in Orange, California. Loved it. Many of the quotes about his creative process, how he found his stories to present - spoke to me about songwriting as well. 

Huell Howser Archives - Orange, California
Feel free to scroll through the photos.

Along with many musical types, he's right up there on the creative inspiration scale for me personally. 

3 Tweets (Say 5 Times Fast!) 

If you're a "tweeter", feel free to follow me HERE.

Here are some "awesome" highlights from this past week:

ThrowBackThursday - On being inches away from Picasso and others 

A quick photo before melting in the 102 degree NYC heat

ThrowBackThursday Post- Looking back on a blog post of recent yesteryear (and bringing it over from the old website for further reference).
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Reflecting on my recent visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, it reminded me of a game I used to play with the kids that used as playing pieces little cardboard squares with tiny prints of world famous paintings.  They were merely just that - nice, little cardboard replicas.
 


Well, it was a different story being just inches away from such works of art. Suddenly, this was the real thing, close enough to touch (though I dare not!!) .  It gave me the chills.   I Never thought I would enjoy it so much!
 
"Good artists borrow, great artists steal" ~ Picasso
The majority of the time I spent in the special Picasso exhibit and paid for the audio headphone tour (which I highly recommend-I got tired of reading, especially because it was really crowded and hence distracting) (Did you just see that?  The beginnings of art-snobbish-ness).  When it came closing time, there was sooo much I DIDN'T see!
 
I'm definitely going back and when I get home I'm going to have to pay a visit to some of those museums in LA.
 
Do you enjoy art musems?  Can't stand'em?  Share your thoughts below.

ThrowBackThursday - Las Vegas Hilton 

ThrowBackThursday Post- Looking back on a blog post of recent yesteryear (and bringing it over from the old website for further reference).

May 28, 2010
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"That's alright, mama,...that's alright with me...."

So goes the song running through my head and softly warming up my vocal cords during load-in and soundcheck on Wednesday.  Why, you might be asking? 

I had this little show I was doing with Hotel California on the huge LAS VEGAS HILTON STAGE FOR GOODNESS SAKE!  (Catch my enthusiasm?)
 

Yes, it was the very place where Elvis (you know, "Presley"?) appeared in the days of old.













 

This is where Barry Manilow had his "house gig" as well, before moving to the Paris.

A quick search on YouTube will reveal the vast number of show biz greats that have graced this stage.

Back to the present, below are some moments I captured on my less-than-stellar camera phone in which you can actually distinguish some resemblance of a photograph.  More may be on the way when I have in my possession the pictures taken by Kevin our sound man with his iPhone.
 
This is the last remaining piece of original stage Elvis performed on (Was next to the water cooler)
 
 
No need to take stairs to the stage!  Did Elvis ride is way to work here?   Mmmm, I suppose so.
 
 
Thanks to Barry for getting things set up for us!
 
"Looks like we made iiiiit""

Thankyuveramuch!

Back At The Coach House! 

Had a last minute show at the Coach House on Saturday assisting with guitar and vocals for my good friend of many years, singer-songwriter, Jay Nixon. (CLICK HERE to hear me play and sing on a track from his CD)
He opened for "maxi-instrumentalist" David Lindley, who I'm sure you've heard on many albums such as Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon, to name a couple. (You know that slide guitar on "Running On Empty"?)

The Coach House was the same venue where I was "off-stage" enjoying Kenny Loggins and Blue Sky Riders wow the house back in September 2015. Cool-being on the very same stage.
 

Soundcheck

The chips, the salsa, the setlist, the dressing room

Let's have chips!!

This Gig Had Class(ics)! 

Had a blast playing a private corporate solo gig at a very unique location this past weekend! Classic automobiles and nostalgic memorabilia cover every inch of this place. Amazing!

Where you ask? Astor Classics Event Center in Anaheim, CA.

Need a special place for your special event? Ask for Michael and tell him Steve sent you! (He happens to be the husband of one of my wife's awesome cousins) :)

The guests begin arriving!