Thinking Of You - Songwriting and Video Creation 

During the Corona Virus outbreak of 2020, there were many people who felt isolated, and often posted on Social Media saying how lonely they were. I began to write this song with those people in mind. 

The song would clearly work as a straight guitar/vocal piece, but I know there is nothing like the power of real strings to set emotions alight. Fortunately one of my string players - and also sometimes host of BBC’s The One Show, Richard Mainwaring - has a lovely little studio at home. The arrangement itself was very simple and took barely half an hour to write, so I fired it over to Richard with the guitar/vocal recording. We decided on a small section of five 1st Violins, four 2nd Violins, two Violas and one Cello - about half of what we would normally use. It came out sounding very intimate, but with lovely dynamics as well.


So to the video, as these days, a song without a video is a song not heard! The idea of a live in the studio, is an obvious way to go - and in fact there is a version from the series Upstairs@ShabbeyRoad
This was shot on green screen - or as the pic here suggest blue shower curtain with fishes, and my daughters little Washburn travel guitar. It was filmed using the meeting app Zoom - as that is quite clever at replacing backgrounds. It was never my intention to release that video as anything other than an Upstairs@ShabbeyRoad filler. The attentive among you will however notice the MMP Galactic badge on my t-shirt in both videos - somewhat giving the game away that this was NOT shot Upstairs@ShabbeyRoad. The logo came from a gig I had arranged music for, and performed at The Royal Albert Hall in 2019 with the Music Man Project. The whole second half was a space musical, and this logo is a little nod of the cap to this fantastic organisation.

 

Some of my favourite videos tell a different story to the narrative of the song and these days of social distancing, gave me an idea.The video would be set in the ultimate isolation of space - with the loneliness of the cosmos as my backdrop. NASA is usually a great source and their videos and pics are all free to use. It took ages, but I found fantastic simulations - using real Voyager footage - of the rings and moons of Saturn. Initially it would fill the whole screen behind, but didn’t really give the impression of being in a spacecraft. I found a lovely looking live control panel, and initially had it angled at the bottom. I then hit on the idea of using a matte and Saturn really came to life when seen through a window. This gave room to put the control panel on the left and the stage was set. 

Of course I needed to get Richard’s strings in somehow, so decided he should be in a passing spaceship, thus keeping the isolation complete. The solo section was conveniently positioned near the end of the song, so I hastily sketched a spaceship with VERY large windows! I am not skilled at digital drawing so enlisted my long-suffering partner Ceri Darknell who brought to life a lovely transparent version of my craft. 
On the film it would simply(!) move in from the right of the window and then slowly toward the centre, whilst getting smaller. All I would then need to do is get Richard’s three video’s to sit in the windows and travel at the same speed while getting smaller… mmm… now, any fool would realise that gluing the 3 films together would have meant tracking 2 films instead of 4!... but I began the process at 1am thinking ‘how hard can it be?’ 
You will be surprised to know that this took some time!.. but the end result did look fantastic. 

Here is the final video. 

I think the combination of a simple direct message, with an off-the-wall film helped to generate a hefty spike of interest. The video had 2000 views in 24 hours, so pretty chuffed with that! 

Thanks to all who contributed and those who liked and shared. 
Al

 

Trouble Times! 

So who would have thought that at this point in the year we would all be at home, driving each other mad!

At Shabbey Road, we had just about finished the Elaine Gilmore album, 'Love Is Still The Answer' - The Songs of Burt Bacharach, and we were looking forward to the launch gig in a couple of weeks.
On the up side, Elaine posted up our video of 'What The World Needs Now Is Love', and it seemed to strike a chord as to date it has had 19000 views in less than two weeks! Maybe we can harness that interest to do something good for the world!

After The Korgis rip-roaring sellout show in Bath in January, we were looking forward to our flurry of gigs in May, beginning with The 100 Club in London and carrying on with a little tour of Holland. 
Strangely the 100 gig has not yet been cancelled, but find it unlikely we will be virus free by the middle of May.
If the guidelines have relaxed a little by then, we may try to do a live session for the 'Upstairs @ Shabbey Road' series. That would be a lot of fun, and also brush some of the rust of the set!

Talking of  'Upstairs @ Shabbey Road', it occurred to me that as there were no gigs to go to, it might be nice to feature some people who had filmed in our upstairs room. In addition, I could add a few things myself. Here is my first attempt to clone myself!
A song I wrote many moons ago called 'I Dream Of You'.
I Dream Of You - Upstairs @ Shabbey Road

 

Before James Warren and myself put The Korgis back together we had started to write a couple of songs. At the same time he was completing a new solo album called 'Innocent Bystander', which he asked me to arrange some strings and brass for.
These were so successful that we hit on the idea of at some stage doing a gig with a small orchestra.
That idea began to take shape in February - musicians were booked - arrangements began to be written - and the lovely venue of The Rondo Theatre in Bath was chosen.
The band is to feature
James - Guitar/Bass and Vocals
Richard Mainwaring - Violin/French Horn/Trumpet/Percussion/Vocals
Pete Wilson - Keyboards/Woodwinds/Percussion/Vocals
Myself - Guitar/Bass/Keyboards/Percussion/Vocals

We are SO excited about this one, and are hoping and praying that the gig goes ahead on July 3rd.

Really hope that all our buddy's are keeping well, and steering through these financially and socially tricky times. It will come to an end, and we are hoping for much sooner, rather than much later!

Stay safe one and all, Al
 

BE A PART OF KORGIS ROCK HISTORY! 

The Korgis have never recorded a live album - TILL NOW!

The group are celebrating the end of their successful spring/summer tour by recording the final result. We are hoping the album will be available for our winter dates in November. We will be changing the set around in between then, so our Cardiff and Selby dates will be the last chance to hear this current collection of Korgis Klassics.

Playing in Cardiff is going to be a blast - and a bit of a homecoming, as about half of the band are Welsh. They would say the other half wish they were as well!!

We will have the full 8-piece band on stage, including our fabulous inspirational backing vocalists 'Born to Win'. We have Glenn Tommey on keys, who played on the original 'Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime' and was a member of Stackridge in the final years. We have Johnny Baker who shared lead vocals on the 1992 album 'This World's For Everyone' I joined the band around that time for some promo dates, and never quite left!! We have powerhouse Welsh drummer Paul Smith, and of course our illustrious leader, James Warren.
 

 

 

James was a founder member of both Stackridge and The Korgis, and together with Andy Davis, they penned a catalogue that was both innovative and commercial. The first hit single was 'If I Had You', and this was followed by the worldwide smash 'Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime'. The great songs have continued to roll out over the years, like 'Have You Seen the Colours' and 'Something About the Beatles'. 



This current show draws from all of the periods and includes both Stackridge and Korgis songs, as well as some of James' solo material. The show is augmented with projection and some quite out there props. COME WITH AN OPEN MIND!!!

If you fancy being one of those people on the forthcoming live album shouting 'MOOOR!... then why not get yourself to the gig.  Don't miss this once in a lifetime chance... and make sure you come and say hi after the show!

THE KORGIS - THE GLOBE - CARDIFF - SAT JULY 20TH 2019


TICKETS HERE!

Al Steele - Live! Loud! and Unleashed - Finally the video is edited! 

Well it didn't take long - only 14 months to edit the films from my gig! To be fair, I have been working on them steadily, but finally had a chance to put them together as the gig ran.

There were a lot if wild moments, a bleedin' fantastic band(!) and some great guests. I am so pleased with how it has come out that I would love to share it around! In fact meet the band!


To that end, as a starter I am hosting a WATCH PARTY on Facebook tomorrow evening (Monday 13th May)... A WHAT?!! To be fair, I am not too up on how exactly it works, but is a bit like you all come around to my place and we turn the TV on and watch a film... except you don't have to come around to my place! If you are a Facebook user (even an occasional one) then just click on Al Steele Facebook  and lo and behold it will be going on. If you like or hate something you can comment, and if someone misses something tell me and we will do a little pause and rewind.

Guests for the first half were Born to Win, Boyd Clack, Nigel Voyle and James Warren. As I did not have multi-track sound for the first half I have just included one song each. The second half is my 2017 album 'Coming Up From Down Under performed live with theatrics/projection laughter and tears! There are a few surprises along the way, and we have a rip-roaring finale

Here is a little taster!

Get down with the kids and join me tomorrow for my WATCH PARTY!
Caio Al

2019 - A Busy Year with The Korgis, The Royal Albert Hall, The Mike Smith Big Swing Band, David Juan Lozano and Andy Fairweather Low joins Roosevelt! 

I can't recall a busier or more exciting time in my life!

THE KORGIS

We started touring The Korgis in earnest this year. We began with some surprisingly trouble free rehearsals. The band as a collective is one of the happiest bunches I have ever worked with, so that helps. Here is Cold Tea from our production rehearsal just before the first gig.
         

We wanted to add a bit of theatre to the show, and this seemed like a good place to start!

Our first gig in York went down a storm, and then onto the sellout gig at London's 100 Club. Another sell-out at the lovely Ropetackle Arts Centre on the south coast, and winding up with a homecoming gig in The Bristol Folk House. The feedback has been amazing, and we even had fans following us from gig to gig! We had planned a new finale for the current show, which began with 'Something About The Beatles', then a pure Korgis rendition of 'A Day in the Life', and inevitably ending with 'Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime'. We did a little play on the famous alarm clock used by The Beatles for their recording of 'A Day in the Life'. Hope you enjoy this  psychedelic video.

 

Footage from the gigs at York and London in March 2019.   More Korgis dates in the summer!

MUSIC MAN PROJECT LIVE AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL

 

This was definitely the largest undertaking of my career!
Writing 136000 notes for a cast of 600 at the Royal Albert Hall, is something you should think carefully about before accepting. Of course, I said yes immediately!

Onstage were 200 students with learning disabilities, singing the most complex songs, solo and in groups, and adding percussion in all the right places. Behind the 60 piece orchestra were a 300 strong choir.

The Music Man Project is the brainchild of David Stanley. David composes all the music and then we have a brainstorming session as to how it should sound. THEN I write the 136000 notes!

Obviously it took a good deal of time to write. The climax came right in the middle of The Korgis tour, so I can now add juggling to my list of skills!

Needless to say the show was a fantastic success, and we pulled an audience of 3000 people in.

 

 

This orchestra was far too big for  me to conduct so or orchestra fixer Jackie O'Kane  brought in the AMAZING Liam Bates. I would describe Liam as one of the nicest blokes you can meet, who won't take no for an answer!.

It was amazing to hear the orchestrations coming to life, as Liam dissected each phrase and section.

The gig was a blast for me, as all I now had to do was 'Shut up and play my guitar'!

If you can get along to one of these concerts in the future please make the effort. Whatever you expect it to be - it will not be what you expect!

THE MIKE SMITH BIG SWING BAND

The day after our last Korgis gig in Bristol, I had a Mike Smith BSB concert. Unlike our winter dance, this is a sit and listen affair, and I couldn't just rehash the same stuff I did last year! SO... after the 136000 notes for the Royal Albert Hall gig, I set to work writing another 40000 for this concert!

I had a brilliant new singer for this concert called Sammi Broad. Sammi was very familiar with a lot of Dusty Springfield material, so we put a few of those in. Our small orchestra sounded amazing. Back again was the stunning soprano Katy Treharne, and long-term favourite Daniel James.

As a special treat I asked James Warren from the Korgis if he would come along, and sing some songs. We chose 'All You Need is Love', A Day in the Life', and of course I had to hear Everybody's Got to Lean Sometime' with a full orchestra! We added a James Warren/Al Steele co-write 'Happy Man', which I re-arranged as a swing number. What a lot of fun! Here is a wee video..
 

DAVID JUAN LOZANO

In October 2018, David Juan Lozano launched his album 'Love at First Sight' in real style with a 20-piece orchestra, and a band that were as  tight at the Fab Four!

He decided to do it all again in Porthcawl, and the response from the sold out room was phenomenal! Juan surrounded his original songs with some real classics from many era's and genre's.

After his knock out two-hour show with the band and orchestra, Juan spent a further hour giving autographs and hugs to his rather enthusiastic fans! The after show party continued at a nearby pub till 3am, where just the core of the band were left. A great bunch of outstanding musicians, and great friends to boot.

Unbeknown to most Juan had lost his mother just a week and a half before the gig, but was determined to see it through in her honour. He knows that's what Myra would have wanted.



ANDY FAIRWEATHER LOW AND ROOSEVELT

I would like to say that I got to play with Andy Fairweather Low, because he had heard about my guitar and keyboard skills, but life has a funny way of throwing up opportunities in a most unusual way, and not to be missed.

Simon Groves our Roosevelt brother on drums has a daughter called Zoe, and Andy has a son called Sion. Well these two young rascals decided to get married, and with such a wealth of musical talent in the family, Andy suggested we play a set together.

What resulted was a lovely relaxed gig with a few bottles of beer and glasses of wine, and a fantastic party crowd who couldn't help singing along with everything! Here is Roosevelt and Andy Fairweather Low, performing his Amen Corner classic, 'If Paradise is Half as Nice'.

What a lovely end to an exciting run of gigs - and it's only just turned May!

Gavin and Me! - a brief songwriting history of Gavin Clifton and Al Steele 

Songwriting is the reason I own a recording studio, and the reason I got into production. I have always considered my guitar/keyboard playing to be a means to record original songs. In the early 80's Julian Tucker and myself had a Publishing Contract with Southern Music, based in Denmark Street in London. With our modest £5000 advance we bought some recording equipment. A then 'state of the art' Tascam Portastudio 244. It was a flawed system that used cassette tape as it's medium, but this was pre-digital, so in it's own way it was groundbreaking, and put multitrack recording within the grasp of a destitute musician! My studio equipment built up from then.

A few years ago I was contacted by a Lyricist called Gavin Clifton. He had already co-written with some people known to me and his stuff sounded pretty good. As original music is always my preferred path, I said yes, I would love to co-write, and why didn't we try out one to see how it goes?

A slight curve ball here, is that Gavin has cerebral palsy, and coupled with a speech impediment would make our communication tricky! Having been involved with Southend Mencap on their Music Man Project, and never one to shy away from a challenge, Gavin and I got together to see what we could achieve. I wanted him to have a real partnership role in these songs, so to negate any communication difficulties, I set up a laptop, so if there was something I was not getting, then he could jot it down.

The way we began was the way we still work today. Gavin had several sets of lyrics and offered us the chance to pick one that we could easily work with. My studio buddy Rob Sherwood was also pitching in ideas, and within an hour we had the whole song mapped out. I then programmed the drums and put a piano down, and Rob finished the rest of the music - bass and guitars, and we then put backing vocals and a lead vocal down. The whole process took about 6 hours. We all thought we had a pretty damn good rock song on our hands, so I suggested the amazing Aubrey Parsons to do the lead vocal session. A little addition of some strings, and there it was - BAM! This song was 'When Courage Shines On Me'.

Hot on it's heels was a great country song called 'Little Steps, Little Wins'.

and a classic Christmas song called 'Magic Of Christmas'. A very talented lady called Kaci James has also just released this song.

Magic of Christmas

Based on an idea by the smashing and lovely Kirsten Orsborn, we wrote the Motown inspired 'Mama Didn't Raise No Fool'. Kirsten brings joy to every performance and she simply shines her way through this one!

 

 

 

Gavin never stops and he was also writing with other writers - often friends of the studio. The very prolific songwriter Darren Parry wrote a great song with him in a much more modern vein called 'Why Won't You Let Me Love You'. Darren Gavin and myself produced this song, and Darren released it under his own name.

 

 

 

 

Gavin also composed a song with our long time friends, the uber-talented Daniel and Laura Curtis. called Talk To Me. We enlisted a cast of some of the top singers in Wales, from right across the board, and this song became The Official Williams Syndrome Charity Single.

 

Somewhere in the middle of all these we wrote one of our favourites 'Silent Love' - like something Dusty Springfield would have recorded - we are still looking for a home for this one, but Gav and I both think it is one of our best. The very dancy 'Waiting on the Edge of Time', the beautiful stripped back 'A Pocket Full of Dreams'. Also awaiting a release date the brilliant Lorna Amy Sullivan has recorded a song we wrote based on 'The Greatest Showman' called 'Crystal Ball'.

THIS BRINGS US TO NOW!
Perhaps the ONLY POSITIVE WORDS THAT HAVE BEEN ISSUED FROM THE HOUSE OF COMMONS IN THE LAST SIX MONTHS IS OUR NEW SONG!

https://www.facebook.com/jenna.curtis.52/videos/2028659710512974/UzpfSTEwMDAwMDcxNjk0NTU1NjoyMjA2NDIxODU2MDU4MzU4/?epa=SEARCH_BOX

Gavin and I were called upon by the Dreams and Wishes Charity to write a song they could release as a single, and raise awareness of the charity. These guys do amazing work by providing wishes that come true for seriously ill children and their families. Gavin wrote a brilliant set of lyrics, so it made it easier to turn that into an inspiring song. Legendary West End singer Peter Karrie (Phantom of the Opera) provided a brilliant lead vocal with fab backing from singers from the Brouhaha Arts Academy. The 'Dreams and Wishes' charity are invited to the House of Commons at least once every year where they were this year commended by the Speaker of the House for their great work.... and that's how he came to have the song we wrote in his hand, and promised to play it next time he was in his car! Please go and buy a copy of this - it is a well deserving charity, and if the House of Commons can't sort the Brexit mess out, at least they will have done SOMETHING good before Christmas!!

Dreams and Wishes on Itunes

To the Royal Albert Hall with David Stanley and the Music Man Project 

Whenever I tell people about the Music Man Project, they ask 'How did you get involved in that?!!'

Well, it is a convoluted story that starts with Daniel and Laura Curtis. I had just completed the first album 'Love on 42nd St', which took them from virtual unknowns to serious players on the world stage. At one point they were No1 in the UK AND the US in the Vocal and Musical Theatre Chart.

My job was to write the orchestral arrangements and then oversee the recordings. Some vocals were recorded at Shabbey Road Studios and some were recorded on location. Samantha Barks had just come off the film version of Les Miz, so we met her in London. Ramin Karimloo was just finishing his stint in London with 'The Phantom of the Opera:Love Never Dies, and Les Miz and was packing his things to move to New York. Leah Salonga was judging American Idol and was recorded in New York along with Sierra Boggess. John Owen Jones recorded at the studio as did Simon Bowman.

The Curtis' decided to put on a London show and invite some top West End vocalists to do their own interpretations of the songs, and a room was chosen in the Royal Albert Hall for this event.

Here are some highlights!

In the audience that night was David Stanley of Mencap Southend. He had big ideas for his students and had already created the Music Man Project. They had performed a show at the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend but as David hints toward the end of the film, he was aiming for something a little higher!

After Dan and Laura Curtis show I had a call from them, saying that David Stanley was looking for an 'Al'!

David and I had a chat and he played through his material, and asked if I thought I could arrange it for a small orchestra... also would I conduct the band as they had a gig booked at The London Palladium! David is a truly gifted composer, and is also full or energy, so needless to say we got on like a house on fire. For every big idea that he had, I would try to make it bigger. I kept expecting him to say NO!, but he kept saying, 'YES! I LOVE IT!' I have had some wild ideas, but up to now he has said yes to every one of them!

The first Music is Magic concert at The London Palladium was a mammoth writing task, but by the time of the gig, we were ready and excited to see how it would all work, at one of the most prestigious theatres in the country - if not the world. Needless to say, it was a raging success, and a seat-of-your-pants roller coaster gig. The students were AMAZING and the band matched them.

The following year we were back at it again! The 2nd concert at the Palladium was even more ambitious, and this time we even broke the World Record for the most amount of triangles played at the same time. David had written this amazing mock Mozart piece called 'Concerto for Trumpet, Trombone and 2000 Triangles'!

Never being one to stand still, David announced during this concert that we were going to The Royal Albert Hall! No longer could we have our modest little orchestra - this time it was to be massed choirs and a full sized orchestra.

The planning of this concert came at a sad time when long-time supporter Lorraine Kelly had died very young from cancer. The idea was formed to put together an orchestra to play the Royal Albert Hall in her honour.

We all had a meeting at the Albert Hall to suss out the space and form a battle plan. To be honest everything was so in hand, that any niggles I had about how it was going to work dissipated right there and then.

Jackie O'kane had not only put the whole damn orchestra together, but as the music was coming through she was also printing it! Thanks also to Tony for organising it into orchestra friendly chunks!

So far only half of the music has been orchestrated, so when I have finished this I had better get back to work! We had a fabulous rehearsal in Southend with the orchestra, and as the theme of this concert is Music Man in Space!...it is looking like this show is going to boldly go where no show has gone before!

Please support this event, and grab your ticket here! Music Man in Space Tickets

We will leave you with a little clip to show how beautiful it is all  sounding. Thanks for making it through this very long post! Al


 

These Are a Few of my Favourite Things! 

At the beginning of 2018, I decided to make a change in direction, and move away from covers bands to concentrate more on original music. Sometimes the decision to make a change will kick off a whole new part of your life. This year has been one of my favourites... here is what 2018 has been like so far!!

AL STEELE - LIVE! LOUD AND UNLEASHED!

I have been a songwriter all of my life. I started writing when I was about 13, and have never stopped. After many years of chasing 'The Pop song', around 1990 I decided to be more true to myself, and the music that had influenced me. The results became the album 'Coming Up From Down Under'. It was certainly my finest work to date, but although I had poured my whole musical, and personal experience into this album, I did not have the contacts, or the right frame of mind to bring it to the world stage.

The passing of 20 years brings many changes! I was now the co-owner of Shabbey Road Studios, and in no little way because of my business partner Nigel Hart, was also much more connected in the industry. With the realisation that I wanted to concentrate more on original music, I decided to release the 'Coming Up From Down Under' album, and what's more to perform it live.

I had written all the music out note for note - for no other reason than it would cut down rehearsal time. I assembled a crack band -- we did two rehearsals and the resultant gig was perhaps the most fun I have ever had on stage.

ROOSEVELT - SOMEWHERE IN THE CITY 2

Way back in 2003, I co-produced an album with Roosevelt, and always felt they were one of the best bands I had ever worked with. A heady mixture of  Springsteen, Petty, Dylan influences had made them into a refreshing sounding unit. I had always thought they were as good as anything else out there, and I mean IN THE WORLD!

Many years went by, but I stayed in touch and would occasionally turn up to a gig, and they would insist I come up and jam on something near the end of the night. I got talking about maybe doing something bigger with them. For a laugh, I posted up to Facebook, 'If Roosevelt and I were to put on a Big Gig in Cardiff, who would come?' I had about 50 responses straight off the bat!

I thought about the sound of the band being bigger, so turned up at one of their gigs with a keyboard. That was a year and a half ago, and I have done every gig since!

We chose The Globe as it is a proper rock venue, and set about promoting it. Changing the mindset of a very established band is not easy, but eventually we agreed on a show that would have multi-media and guests. To cut a long story short, the gig was a near sell-out, and the reception was amazing. This is a band you can see for free in a pub down the road, but at least 250 people had paid to see them at The Big Gig! I think the audience saw the band in a new light.

This year we had to do it again, but rather than rest on our laurels, we wanted to show where the band was going next... so we added a horn section. This gave us a lovely soul edge that was the perfect counterpoint for our American tinged sound.  The combination is one to be used on the new album due to  start recording in November.

The gig was a MASSIVE success, and this surely will be a yearly event. Who knows what the twist will be next year?!

THE KORGIS

Way back in the 1990's I had a call to do a few dates with The Korgis. They were promoting the album 'This Worlds's For Everyone' Original member Andy Davis had left, so the front men were James Warren and John Baker. I had replace Andy on guitar. I kept in touch and then James and I started doing some writing together, at the same time as him recording a new album.

In November 2017, we did a one-off gig as James Warren and Friends at The Rondo Theatre in Bath. It was really just to promote James' new album 'Innocent Bystander', but the reaction to the band was rather overwhelming, so we knew we had to take it further.

James Warren was one half of The Korgis, and the writer/vocalist of 'Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime'. The Korgis had a good few hits, so the idea was formed to create the ultimate Korgis show. There were a lot of great songs between the 4 Korgis albums, The  Stackridge albums (James was a founder member) and his 3 solo albums.

We unveiled a Korgis set at The Stables back in June, and it felt like we had finally arrived. We had an 8-piece band, and video projection with off-the -wall clips from the old Korgis days, as well as new films made specially. This was followed in August by the first full-blown Korgis gig, on the bill with Status Quo at The Sunshine Festival in Worcester.

LOT'S more dates coming with this outfit in 2019, including the legendary 100 Club in London.

DAVID JUAN LOZANO - LOVE@FIRST SIGHT LIVE

Juan - as we call him - is one of the most talented singer-songwriters I have ever met. His writing is a cross between classic Neil Sedaka and The Beatles, and his voice is like a more ballsy Roy Orbison meets Elvis.

I have known Juan for about 15 years. He would come into the studio as a keyboard player/backing vocalist for singer-songwriter Darren Parry. They were some of my favourite sessions. Juan had a great musical ear, and between us we would push the boundaries of what could be done!

Around 2015 Juan came to me with a couple of original songs. I think the first was 'My Prayer', a beautiful gospel balled. We did a few more, and Juan decided to go for a full album... but he wanted to be really proud of it. As it developed song by song, it was turning into a real classic album. While scoring a quick string arrangement for 'Love at First Sight', Juan said - 'you know you have made me think there... I think I would like real strings on the whole album'. That was a turning point. We discarded everything 'fake' on the album and replaced with real. The difference was amazing!

It was inevitable that Juan would eventually do a live launch, as onstage is where he is most at home. It was not an easy (or cheap!) undertaking, as to recreate that sound we would end up using a 26-piece  orchestra! Backing vocals were also a major part of the sound, so even before we did band rehearsals, we did 3 backing vocal rehearsals to nail that part of it. By the time the rhythm section got together, we were all thinking in the same mind-set. I haven't worked with a unit where we all gelled together so well, or so quickly.

With that size of orchestra there would only every be a run-through on the day. People that I talked to afterwards simply could not believe that we had only got together that afternoon. That is the skill of reading musicians. The great ones will play it like they have played it all their lives.

The concert was a massive success - I have never seen anything quite like it! Many more to come I hope!

MUSIC MAN PROJECT AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL

So this is my next challenge. Although this gig is not until next April, it features a full symphony orchestra! As you would imagine there are a fair few notes to write for this one!

 

 

The first rehearsal is on November 4th, so no guesses what I will be doing for the next 2 weeks!

The stars of the show are about 200 disabled people who will perform an amazing variety of music, including a mini-musical where the Royal Albert Hall will lift off into space!

Anyone that has seen the last two performances we did at the London Palladium, has come away saying it was the most moving experience they have had in their lives. PLEASE COME AND SUPPORT THIS GIG!

David Juan Lozano and the Love@First Sight Orchestra 

David Juan Lozano is a FANTASTIC singer songwriter. His songs have been likened to Neil Sedaka and The Beatles, and vocally he sits somewhere between a more gutsy Roy Orbison, and Elvis Presley.


I worked with Juan over a two-year period and we hand-crafted the productions of his 'Love@First Sight' album with the idea that they would be produced EXACTLY as they needed to be, without a financial limitation. It is not every day that somebody believes in their art as much as he does. It is the same belief that enabled him to sell out Cardiff's Millenium Centre a decade ago. Everybody said he was crazy, but David Juan believed!

The album featured lot's of real strings - french horns - trumpets - trombones - timpani - woodwinds. As each arrangement fell into place, we new we had a killer release on our hands.

Well, it is now time to launch that album with a killer gig! We knew that we could not do it with a 5-piece band, so in typical David Juan fashion, he enlisted The Cardiff Philharmonic as well as a hand picked brass section, and a rhythm section that was not just the tops musically, but would also form 'the tightest harmony group to hit the stage since the Fab Four played the the Capital Theatre in 1964!

Listen to this!!

Leading up to the gig, the rehearsals have got better and better, and the band are now really feeling like a band! I am hard at work perfecting the arrangements for the larger orchestra that we have, and practising singing/playing and conducting at the same time!

This gig is truly one not to miss. The song and the orchestra, and not least, David Juan Lozano are going to make it a VERY SPECIAL NIGHT. Please come along and support one of the truly great songwriters living under our noses!

 

The Korgis at The Sunshine Festival 

This fab pic courtesy of RJP Photography UK

Well you know that whatever the weather, we were going to have a blast at The Sunshine Festival!

When we arrived it was pouring and the Main Stage was very wet, with gale force winds blowing more water on everything. Here is Ceri's take on how the day began!

After unpacking all the equipment and putting it backstage in the one dry area, the decision was made to put us inside. Well that was a result! Not without it's issues, as the new venue was the other side of the festival. Pack the cars back up and drive to the other side and unpack again!

It must be said the crew were absolutely on the ball, and even though they only had a 16-channel mixer, they managed to get a first-class sound.The tent was packed (and dry!), and we had a cracker of a gig. See for yourself in this video of Boots and Shoes. Sorry the sound quality is not great, but understandably there was not time to multi-track record this one!

A very special thank you to Ceri Lorna and Leah, for buying me warmer clothes than the ones I came in!

Let's do it again next year with ACTUAL sunshine!!!

ROOSEVELT - Another great gig at The Globe 

Roosevelt at The Globe was a blast!

Firstly a massive thank you to Lee Cottey who looked after the sound and a million other things. Lee was the engineer at my gig earlier in the year, so I was very glad he could make this one.

Big thanks to Rhydian on lights, and Emile our guitar tech - god knows we had a lot of them on this gig!! Also Ceri for sorting out the technical stuff with the projection, and also running the films. We were filming and multi-track recording this gig too, so we had a good few people manning cameras for both video and stills. Leah Darknell, Dave Daggers, Nigel Thurgar, and Michael Kennedy with his assistant Helen... also Mark Grant and Mark Evans. We really appreciate all that you do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The astonishingly talented Bryony Sier opened up for us. I had so many comments afterwards about her. Bryony looks so unassuming, but boy what she delivers is world class!

We were so pleased she could do it.

THANK YOU BRYONY!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year the big addition was our fabulous horn section, Sean McBride on sax, and Ted Smith on trumpet. After our first rehearsal we affectionately named them the 'DB Horns'... the 'D' standing for Dogs!...

The horns have added a new richness and depth to the sound, so looking forward to doing some recording with these guys. We have AT LEAST enough material for an album. ...'and not before time!' I hear you cry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The set really flew by, and quite honestly, we could have gone on all night! Here are some pics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The biggest thanks of all goes to the people who showed up, and continue to show up for Roosevelt gigs. Your support means an awful lot to us. We hope you enjoyed the show as much as we did! 

 

SEE YOU AT A GIG NEAR HERE SOON!!

ROOSEVELT- Somewhere In The City-2 

Wow, it's hard to believe that a whole year has passed since Roosevelt's gig last year at The Globe!

I have been lucky to be part of some memorable gigs in the last year, and along with the fab James Warren and Friends gigs, and also my own extravaganza back in March, last years 'Somewhere In The City' was one of the high points.

 

So here we are again, but this year is even bigger. Alongside the films and the stories, we have added a kicking horn section. To say it fits is an understatement! I think we all feel that we are kind of in 'E-Street Band' territory... the sound is so massive! We have some great new material, and I reckon a new album is not far down the road.

We would love you to come and see what all the fuss is about tomorrow night. Meanwhile here is a great song called 'Down To The River'. My daughter Leah did this video, and hand-drew a good few of the scenes. Not bad eh?!!
 

We also have an amazing special guest called Bryony Sier. I have known Bryony for about 6 years, but it was when we were on the same bill as her, that the guys said, 'We would LOVE to have her as support!.. do you think she would?'. Have a look at this!!

... then buy a ticket here!!!

ROOSEVELT - Somewhere In The City 2

Great pics from The Stables 

LOVE LOVE LOVED the James Warren and Friends gig at The Stables... but you can tell because it is written all over my face!

BORN TO WIN opened the show with their unique brand of positivity! We love these guys.

James' first set was mainly his solo material and some great Stackridge stuff. Brought to a climax with his 'boy band' song, 'You've Got The Love'.

Set Two was pure Korgis. Dumb Waiters, Boots and Shoes, If I Had You, the exquisite, 'Something About The Beatles', and of course, Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime'


Here is a video for Dumb Waiters.

Those that were there they seemed to enjoy it as much as we did!... If you wold like to keep in the loop, then Sign Up to the newsletter... and we promise not to send you rubbish!!  https://alsteele.bandzoogle.com/sign-up
Cheers Al

James Warren and Friends - from small beginnings to big ideas! 

Way back in the 90's I was asked to join James Warren's Korgis for a few dates. After a little while we lost touch, but the music business being what it is, fate would bring us back together.

I had been looking for someone to co-write some commercial songs, that could be performed by name artistes, and by strange coincidence James had been doing exactly the same thing. We chanced on each other again through a music pitching website, and started to write together. James was also recording his latest album 'Innocent Bystander'. I contributed some guitar, a bit of string and brass writing, and we recorded the players at Shabbey Road. On the release of 'Innocent Bystander' the record company popped the question... are you going to tour to promote it? Right there, the idea of James Warren and Friends was born.

The new material is very dynamic, so we needed a kick-ass drummer. I knew the man - he is Paul Smith. James sounded out John Baker - vocalist from the 90's Korgis, and his long-time keyboardist Glenn Tommey. Vocals have always been a key part of the James Warren sound, and I had been working with an exciting new group called Born to Win. I asked if they would take care of backing vocals. Wow!... we had a band! Initially James was to play acoustic, but we then settled for the obvious of him on bass. He is one of those rare individuals who can sing and play the most complex bass part! 

We rehearsed 3 songs, and it sounded damn good! James and I had a meeting where he expressed his wish to do a 'proper' show, where we linked songs together, talked over intros, and really thought about how the whole thing would feel. I suggested using film for some numbers as a backdrop. We decided to do a tester gig at The Rondo Theatre in Bath. It was billed as an 'Exclusive Preview', and we mainly played new material. There were a few obvious favourites as well. We invited questions from the audience, which was a fun thing to do... like your favourite memory of working with Sir George Martin.

The Rondo gig was massively well received, as well as being sold out! We had proved that the show had legs, and what's more - we all loved the combined energy of the band.

James got busy on getting some gigs, using the principle that, if we have gigs we HAVE to be ready. This is also how I work at the studio. We book the musicians BEFORE we have written a scrap of music! Drawing material from Stackridge/The Korgis/ and James' solo albums we honed a set list that seemed to really hang together. Of course there was multimedia stuff going on everywhere as well. James does NOT love risk, so he was looking quite anxious with the amount of computer stuff I was rigging. After a few tweaks it was all up and ticking over smoothly. We are running film and click tracks (so the band can keep in time with the films), live from the stage. Here is a clip of our final rehearsal at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios. This is the amazing 'This World's For Everyone'.

Got to say, the gig at The Stables was a blast! Born to Win, brought the house down with four of their own songs, before James killed the first set with some new songs and some REALLY OLD Stackridge stuff... but the real highlight was Set 2 where we kicked into the Korgis material.  Here is the proof, in the form of 'Boots and Shoes'!

An Exciting Weekend! 

This weekend was a milestone in a few ways. On Friday James Warren and I travelled to London to meet with a potential manager. Suffice to say the meeting was a bit of a success, so look out for an announcement on that VERY SOON!
Way back in the early 80's, I used to play a very nice Gibson 335... and HERE I AM!... I know - I haven't changed a bit!!

For various reasons I sold the guitar, and while the equipment I replaced it with did the job it needed to, I never really felt as at home as I did on that 335. Well, with the news that Gibson are in some financial trouble, I started to look around for something similar. Eventually I came across something called a Gibson Midtown in a very similar colour, but with a slightly more elegant body. So I picked that up on the way back from London. WANNA SEE IT?!!

... and in use today at Shabbey Road.

I sincerely hope that EVERYBODY has such a great Friday as mine, in the very near future!

Al's Big Band/Small Orchestra gig! 

On April 14th 2018, myself and the Mike Smith Big Swing Band did our second concert at Melksham Assembly Hall.

When I took over Mike's band, I decided to add a string section to the band. This meant a good few late nights writing the music, but I tell you what, it ain't half worth it!

On outstanding vocals for the second year running we had Katy Treharne, Daniel James and Catherine Sykes. We had our regular rhythm section of Paul Smith, Terry Gregory and Nigel Hart. These guys are such a pleasure to work with, and I try to book them on every gig I do! The brass and strings were superb, and the audience weren't bad either!

Like all concerts of this type, it is hard to drum up enough support. As you would imagine with a 19-piece band plus crew, it comes with a big of a price tag. Great thanks has to go to our event organiser Dennis, who cajoles and persuades, and tries to get a full house.

Thanks to everyone who continues to support The Mike Smith Big Swing Band. YOU ARE APPRECIATED!

Al

BIG NEWS! The first ever Korgis Tour! 

In the light of recent discussions and new management in place, The Korgis will finally tour!

The band up to now, has always been a reclusive studio outfit, but with new found enthusiasm for everything Korgis/James Warren, the band are hard at work perfecting the definitive Korgis set list. It will also reach into the Stackridge back catalogue, and include James Warren's solo material, but the flavour will be PURE KORGIS!

'If I Had You', 'Dumb Waiters', 'Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime', 'All The Love in the World', 'Boots and Shoes', 'Something About the Beatles', and many more, this is going to be one helluva show.

James Warren recently said, 'I would love to do a show that will really blow peoples socks off!... working on video backdrops. links between the songs and putting a REAL SHOW together.

The Korgis were a studio band, so to do justice to the expansive harmonies, the multi-layered guitars, and the lush orchestral/synth arrangements James and Al have put together an amazing 8-piece touring band. 

James is currently jogging his way around Cornwall, so will be temporarily unavailable for comment! Encouragement welcome though!

We are currently finely tuning set lists. Suggestions on a postcard please!

Al

Coming Up From Down Under! 

So this is the first video from my show at The Globe in Cardiff on March 4th.

When I have finally mixed everything there will be a live DVD available... but there are few bottles of red wine in between myself and the finishing post!

Al Steele - Live! Loud and Unleashed! 

Of all the gigs I have done in my life, this was perhaps the most enjoyable!

There were so many unknowns - would I direct the band well enough to give them a fighting chance? There had only been two rehearsals!
Would I remember the lyrics - I know I wrote the songs, but remembering 10,000 words after two rehearsals is not to be taken for granted. Would the audience like the show I had put together? It's a tall order to ask people to listen to an hours worth of original material. I knew it needed to be A SHOW.

Needless to say, the band were amazing, I did remember the lyrics, and more amazingly, the audience remembered to laugh in all the right places, and not freak out when the 'girl with the knife' came on!!

We had a real blast, and the videos will testify to that.

I have to say my guests were to die for!

BORN TO WIN If there were ever a group of people destined to change the world - it is right there! A performance to break the mould. Love working with these guys. Have you noticed, they are in my band, they are in James Warren's band, they were even in our Eurovision entry as Dan and the Doo Wops!

BOYD CLACK A true poet/writer/eccentric/gentleman. I don't have the space here to say how much I love this man! We worked on two albums together, and created some real works of art. If I ever retire, I am just going to drive him to the studio, and make pieces the world is not ready for, but need so desperately!

NIGEL VOYLE Nigel was the first person I asked to be on the bill. We wrote together for years, and we built our skills together. It speaks volumes that he chose as one of his songs to honour our mutual friend Paul Weston. Nigel goes where his heart tells him. My heart told me that to perform again with Nig would be the BEST THING I COULD DO! Loved bringing those songs to life.

JAMES WARREN This was the coup of the century. To have James (and the whole of the bloody band!) come and play at my lowly gig, made my night. The amount of comments I had about his material, his voice, his bass playing. This man is one of the GREAT British songwriters, and i am always in awe of his musicality, his meticulous attention to detail, and his kindness. Thank you James. A special thanks to Glenn Tommie and John Baker for coming across. You guys made my day.

My band are also my best mates.

  1. Rob Sherwood took all the pressure off me. He did the hard guitar parts, while I took the glory!!
  2. Robin Hames is one of the best bass players in the country. Everyone wants Robin in the band, because at least ONE of us will be playing the right notes!
  3. It was such a blast to have Sean McBride on woodwinds. Sean supported my writing and did COUNTLESS sessions for just the music. He is a larger than life musician. Why do 5 when you can do 10. SEAN DOES TEN
  4. Paul Smith is my go to drummer FOR EVERYTHING! He cares deeply about the quality of the music. We have many hours of talking about how the nuts and bolts of music work. He is my rock. If I have Paul on the gig - I know it will be okay! Here is his new nickname -FIRST CALL PAUL!
  5. Nigel Hart is my co-owner at Shabbey Road Studios. We see eye to eye on everything. He is always supportive in the most real way. He never makes a fuss - he is just there. He is also the BEST DAMN KEYBOARD PLAYER ON THE PLANET!
  6. Since 'Born to Win' decided to become rock stars(!) they have touched everyone around them. We have been friends for years, and anyone will tell you... I have always been a pretty positive guy!.. but hanging around with these guys is where we all want to be!!! Thank you so much for being part of my show, and my life.
  7. Special thanks to Elaine Smith for joining us on 'She's a Clubber' and sounding uncannily like the CD. That's because she WAS on the CD!  Elaine sang on LOADS of songs penned by Nigel Voyle and myself. So lovely to have her there - just like old times!

The biggest thanks of all goes of course, to the people who braved the snow , the cold, the distance - my daughter drove from Yorkshire in the snow to be there! - to come to see a gig I had put together. You guys are on my A list! There were a good few people who had bought tickets - booked hotels - but physically couldn't make it. Thank you for trying - you know who you are. It is very easy to be supportive on Facebook, and Twitter - because it's only the click of a button, but gig's won't happen unless people ACTUALLY turn up. Thank you for the ones that did.

Well this had been a marathon blog, but the end message is. THE GIG WAS A BLOODY BLAST!!!

Back from Oz 

With the latest release being called 'Coming Up From Down Under', it was fitting that at the tail end of 2017 we had a family holiday in Oz.

We had a fab time, and caught up with some of my relatives in Melbourne before heading up to Sydney.

Look out for a new video for the title track recorded in a few Sydney locations.

We ended up with friends in Brisbane, and spent Christmas with them on the Gold Coast. In the UK when folks do the 'Christmas Day Swim', it is based on toughness and endurance of the freezing conditions. No such problems with the Christmas Swim at Surfers Paradise!!!

Here is a link to some of our highlights!

December in Oz

We got back on the 29th, just in time to be Musical Director for the pre-NYE bash with the Mike Smith Big Swing Band gig, and then New Years Eve at a big musical extravaganza in Cardiff.

No rest for the wicked, just beginning a musical arrangement of a  Dan & Laura Curtis charity single that features 40 singers a full orchestra and the BTM Brass Band! A meeting in the pub with Roosevelt tomorrow to work out the 'Somewhere In The City' gig this summer. A get together with James Warren next Monday to plan the James Warren/Korgis/Stackridge tour this summer... THINK I NEED ANOTHER HOLIDAY!!

Happy New Year guys!

Al

A little poster I put together for the James Warren and Friends gig.
How do you like the arty reflection?!!

A little poster I put together for the James Warren and Friends gig. How do you like the arty reflection?!!

The awesome month of November 2017!

This has been a damn exciting month!! 

I was about get the CD's off to print, when Ceri and I realised that to fit all the lyrics on the cover would make it look WAY too text heavy. So we decided to make it an interactive CD, so there could be links to the website/lyrics/freebies etc. Needless to say designing that was NOT a piece of cake! 

The album looks great and I think sounds great. Please have a listen to the on the store here, and if you fancy it, buy a copy! It is there on CD or as a download.

At the same time we were in final prep for the James Warren gig, with films to be projected/live linkups, and the nuts and bolts like hiring projectors etc. The gig itself was a raging success, and that paves the way for a full blown tour next year.

James of course was the founder member of Stackridge and The Korgis. I toured with the Korgis in the 90's and for the last couple of years James and I have been writing together. I helped him  to put the band together, and one of my suggestions was the amazing new vocal group 'Born To Win'. These guy's are just finishing an album I produced at Shabbey Road, and they are also special guests on my gig at The Globe, Cardiff in March 2018, as is James.

And THAT brings us to where I am now... sitting in Dubai airport on my way to Australia. Having a well earned holiday, but also plan to shoot a promo video of the song 'Coming Up From Down Under' on Bondi Beach sipping a tin of VB (Victoria Bitter to the unenlightened!), and soaking up the sun!

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

Al x