I have always had a fondness for the clever and sometimes satirical singer-songwriter. Having cut my teeth on guys like John Prine and Loudon Wainwright, it’s great to still have artists who can make us think and laugh at the same time. New Nashvillian Steve Poltz is certainly one of the best of this kind.
I first saw Steve open for Squeeze’s Glenn Tilbrook at the Bluebird back in 2002. His engaging and entertaining live show immediately won me over, and I have followed his career ever since. Although he had visited Music City often, it’s great to have Steve regularly play his new home town in between his time spent touring the world.
Steve has quickly amassed a large collection of musical friends in town, so much that the crowd for his recent show at The Basement could have been a meeting of the Music City Musicians Union. He also on occasion does an early 7pm show at the City Winery Lounge sharing the stage with some of his younger songwriting friends.
Poltz has been blessed with some serious “mailbox money” having co-written the smash hit “You Were Meant for Me” with his friend Jewel (She took it to #2 on the charts for two weeks.) and from also having had a song (“Everything About You”) on the mega-selling movie soundtrack for Notting Hill. And, as for his earlier days, you must check out his cool indie-rock band, The Rugburns.
In addition to being such a great writer and performer, Steve is also one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. I’m sure glad he moved to town, and it’s a thrill to get him on board with “11 Questions.” Read along and see if you can spot where he might be kidding us!
Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?
I moved to Nashville from San Diego in June of 2016. So, in dog years I’ve been here about 11 years. I like it a lot. I live in a kennel with other road dogs.
What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl or digital?
First record I bought was in 1965 at a garage sale and it was a 45 called “Easier Said Than Done” by The Essex. I haven’t bought anything since. It’s the only song I know. It’s the only song I ever want to hear. Please play it at my funeral. I’m listening to it right now. I hate all other songs. https://youtu.be/Ii7EAdo7Qxo
First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?
First concert was Styx. They played our high school gym in 1975. I saw a guy smoke pot, and during the song “Lady” he sat inside one of the huge speaker cabinets. The music was blaring, and he didn’t wear ear plugs. He was too stoned to care. I saw him last year at a class reunion, and I tried talking to him, but he couldn’t hear me because the battery in his hearing aid died.
The last concert I saw was Styx in 2015. I opened for them and then watched them play. Now my life is complete. This was a couple years ago. I’m the President of the Styx Fan Club. If you’d like I can get you on the picnic committee for next year’s gala picnic. Please bring potato salad, but don’t add dill. Some of the guys in the band are dill intolerant.
Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?
Peter Frampton. I got punched in the mouth and nose and knocked out by a guy in a brown van in 1976 right after Frampton Comes Alive was released. This guy sucker punched me during the song “Do You Feel Like I Do.” Every time I hear that song my lip starts hurting and blood leaks out of my nose. (Frampton’s already on the list, but this story is too cool to delete. Editor)
Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?
I’m scared to go out in public because I’m still traumatized from getting punched in the mouth. But, when I do get the gumption I usually go to this little coffeehouse that’s really funky. It’s called Starbucks. You’ve probably never heard of it. They have a really cool logo. Please don’t tell anyone about it because it’ll get too crowded and I’ll need to find a new place. Oh–Starbucks is all one word. Not two- like Star Bucks. Just one word–Starbucks. That’d be cool if they had an app. I think they’re listed in the phonebook. Look in the Yellow Pages under coffee.
Pizza? I usually go to Kroger and buy a frozen pizza and eat it on hot sultry summer days. I love eating frozen pizza except sometimes the pepperoni gets icy and can stick to your tongue like a frozen pole back in elementary school in Canada.
What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?
Jon Latham (New record Lifers is just out.)
Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?
Stacie Huckeba’s kitchen in East Nashville. It’s her house, but she is always willing to wake up and make random strangers blueberry pancakes. Look her up on Facebook. Tell her you’re drunk and hungry. You can only pay her with fireworks. Here’s her website: http://www.staciehuckeba.com/
The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.
Jon Latham, Sally Jaye and Will Kimbrough.
What are your favorite music venues to play in town?
Ascend Amphitheater. I’ve never played there, but I fantasize about it a lot. As far as I’m concerned, my fantasies are REAL. I’m headlining, and it’s sold out, and everyone has their lighters in the air and I’m singing a song that sounds like a mix between Jerry Lewis, Peter Frampton and Styx. It’s called “Hey Lady! Do You Feel Like I Do?” My nose is bleeding, and the place is going nuts. Of course, I get an encore and do a cover of “Easier Said Than Done” by The Essex.
Name a musician who you’d like to see move here?
Liberace. Even though he’s dead we could dig him up and prop him up like Weekend at Bernie’s. Put a speaker and a cassette of his music in his throat. Then sit him at a piano on a porch in East Nashville and wire his mouth so it opens and closes like a puppet and looks like he’s singing. I think the title of my next book will be Exhuming Lib.
Finally, what’s in your musical future?
I’ll probably win the Lotto and follow Styx on the road like a groupie. I’m going to negotiate a peace deal between Dennis DeYoung and the rest of the band and get them back together so it’s not a watered-down version. It’ll be tough, but I sent an email to Jimmy Carter to see if he’ll help with the peace talks. He hasn’t written me back. I think he’s blocked me. Styx, Dennis DeYoung and Jimmy Carter have all blocked me on Facebook and Twitter. Maybe you can help?