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Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | SELF

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2010
Duo Folk Jazz


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"It Takes Two: Band Finds Right Fit as Jazzy Duo"

If you listened to Saskatoon band Crestwood five years ago, you might not recognize them now. The band has traded rowdy bars for coffee shops, jeans for suits and folk rock for throwback jazz.

It took guitarist and singer Steven Maier a while to admit he's not really a rocker.

"I think that's something I've learned as I got older. I'm probably more of a folky jazz guy," he said.

The band, which featured up to six people, started as an outlet for music Maier was writing. The folkrock album The Movies came out in 2010. But everything changed in 2011 when Maier and bass player Gent Laird entered The Duo competition at Tusq (eventually coming in second).

"We put on suits, which we had never done before and we started doing jazzy covers of popular songs, some of which we still play now. Not only did we really like playing that way, the audience really enjoyed it too," said Maier. One such cover was Britney Spears' Hit Me Baby One More Time. They chose it because it was the worst song on a list of options provided to the band. Much to their surprise, it got a huge reaction from the audience. The song is still in Crestwood's set.

The change in direction wasn't a snap decision. Crestwood actually went back to its original formula after The Duo finished. They had fun, but on a western Canadian tour, it became clear it wasn't the music they wanted to play. The two musicians workshopped songs in Maier's basement and learned to really focus on the sound. Laird introduced Maier to more jazz music. Gent traded his electric bass for a upright bass. They revisited the old songs with the new style in mind.

"Strangely enough, the existing tunes I found worked better with the new arrangements, even though that's not what we originally had in mind," said Maier.

This weekend, the band will release the EP Let's Get Together, four new songs that showcase the new Crestwood. The jazz is more Sinatra than Coltrane, and the band retains a folk influence.

Laird said it's nice to have a clearer identity as a band. But being a duo takes confidence.

Without a drummer, the two musicians need to keep their own rhythm.

"As the bass player, there's a lot more room to fill. It's a tricky line between filing up space and playing too much just for the sake of filling up space," said Laird.

"You're really exposed with a two-piece," added Maier. "I find I'm thinking a lot more about what I'm playing." That being said, Crestwood makes lots of room for improvisation at live shows.

Both men said the spontaneity is exciting. So is the fact that audience members are into the music.

"That's why I like doing this project. People actually want to come see us.

We're not just playing for our own sake. It's good when other people get involved," said Maier. - The Star Phoenix

"Snappy Happy Jazz Flows from Crestwood"

A musical duo toting a standup bass and a guitar is still picking and grinning — but now the music is more uptown than hoedown.

“We’re from Saskatchewan and country is almost unavoidable … not that you would want to avoid it,” said bassist Gent Laird, adding his hometown is Prince Albert while vocalist and guitarist Steven Maier hails from Yorkton.

For these former folk/rock singers who perform under the name Crestwood, it’s jazz overtones that now distinguishes their music. While their tunes hint at their musical past, it certainly ain’t honky-tonk.

And it’s approachable — not the ephemeral jazz that intrigues eclectics, but rather the snappy, happy stuff like when Frank Sinatra ruled on radio.

“When people think of jazz, they think of inaccessible, really fast music that’s hard to follow,” said Maier, in an interview to promote the upcoming release of Crestwood’s inaugural EP. They’re releasing it with a show in Regina at O’Hanlons on Jan. 26.

About 75 per cent of the songs performed at their shows are original, as are all of the songs on the EP. Maier takes first crack at writing new music for the pair, who live in Saskatoon. The tune comes to him first, he said.

“As far as guitar-playing goes, I kind of just feel out whatever fits which song,” he said. “I’m not trying to be specifically known for any certain style. If a certain song calls for some country picking, or only wants jazz chords in it, then that’s what we’re going to do. We try to kind of pull influences from everywhere.”

Next come the lyrics, which trend toward the up-beat and even comical.

“I just keep on writing and rewriting until it all makes, which is somewhat of a process,” Maier said.

The rough draft of a song goes through another crafting stage in which both musicians contribute. What comes out of the session is not a finished product, but rather the structure upon which they’ll often improvise in a live show — and even when recording.

“Because there’s only the two of us, we both have to take solos every once in awhile. Improvisation is a big part of what we do,” Maier said.

The EP contains four songs that combine jazz roots and a sparing approach. Lyrics, upright bass, guitar and Maier’s vocal delivery are distinctive and meaningful.

A tune called This Must Be Love pokes fun at the lighter side of the concessions and even drudgery that willing parties sometimes contribute for the sake of their long-term relationship.

Another tune called I Do is more upbeat but hardly avant-garde, and includes some guitar stylings reminiscent of music from the country charts during Sinatra’s time.

“Because we retain a lot of elements of country and folk, people still seem to be able to identify with it,” Maier said.

And the cover versions they do are throwbacks to the same bygone era, drawing fans who like joining their sentimental journey.

“We’ve found we’ve taken to an older crowd that has a lot of nostalgic feelings for what we’re doing,” said Maier.

-G. Brock - The Leader Post

"Gillian's House Concert Series Review"


My name is Gillian Snider and I host house concerts here in Saskatoon. This coming March will be the 60th concert that I’ve hosted in the last 5 years, and I’m proud to say that my living room has witnessed some amazing gatherings and, better yet, some incredible music from artists across our fine country - and across the pond! The Crestwood concert was no exception. Steve and Gent have a repertoire of original music that had the audience captivated throughout - and scrambling for cd’s during the break and after the show! I had several local folks asking me when I’ll be having them back, and some visitors from Toronto saying it was one of the best live shows they’d been to. Not to mention one of the best shindigs!

I can say with certainty that I will definitely be having these boys back.

Yours in the prairies,

Gillian Snider -

"Private House Concert Review"

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing this letter of recommendation for the members of Crestwood. In August 2012, the group played our first house concert ever.

While we had been to house concerts before, we had never hosted one and were unsure what to expect. The group was heads and tails above any of our expectations.

From the get go, Crestwood combined a string of its own, quieter, folkier music with some well-known covers that the crowd recognized immediately. It didn’t take too long before the crowd pushed the chairs out of the way and began to dance along.

They interacted with the crowd and really fed off the energy in the room. At one point, even taking a few requests which is the true test of musicianship.

The group gave us not only an evening full of entertainment but helped us build a reputation as a great venue for house concerts. We’ve had several since.

They also helped us create a ton of memories that we talk about often. I would recommend this group not only for the quality of its music but also for the personality it brings to the stage.

Can’t wait to have them back!


Britainy Zapshalla -

"Private House Concert Review"

Instead of hosting our normal Christmas come-and-go gathering in December, we decided to switch things up and host a house concert, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Saskatoon Food Bank. I knew who to call as soon as we decided we wanted a band to play in our living room. Not only did Steven and Gent (Crestwood) put on a great show, they were generous with their time, flexible, professional and really understood what we were trying to achieve with our little charity event.

Our guests loved the music and Crestwood's performance, and it was nice to have them stay and mingle with our guests for a bit at the end of the evening. I would whole-heartedly recommend Crestwood as entertainers for any type of event, not just because they are gifted musicians, but also because they put on a great show.

- Dore Collett -

"Enjoyable Release from Former Resident"

"Crestwood is the new vehicle for former Yorkton musician Steven Maier, and I must say it's an impressive effort." "This is one local music lovers will definitely want to add to their collection."
- Calvin Daniels - Yorkton This Week


2015 - Let's Get Together EP
2010 - The Movies



Crestwoods evolution to a blues-informed, jazz-inspired duo with a throwback vibe was a long time coming. The band was started as a fluid solo project by Steven Maier in 2010.  Stints with successful Saskatoon bands Sexually Attracted to Fire and the Seven Levels left him with a growing reputation as a talented songwriter, and soon had an albums worth of unrecorded songs but no band to record them with. Crestwood was chosen as the name for the project, in honour of the sunny, brightly coloured apartment building that housed the dark, dingy basement apartment in which Steven lived and the album was written. Only a few steps from Broadway Ave, at that time a vibrant bastion of Saskatoons local music scene, the apartment was often frequented late at night by musicians looking for a place to happen, and sometimes sleep.  From these musicians grew the first installation of Crestwood, with the apartment eventually serving as a makeshift recording studio.

Crestwoods first show was their CD release party of 2010s The Movies and featured a six piece rock band. The line-up changed constantly during the next two years, occasionally featuring 2 percussionists and keyboards, and other times stripped down to Steven's guitar and voice. In 2011, Steven and current bass player Gent Laird took part in the 2ndTusq duo competition under the name Crestwood. By the final performance the duo had time-warped to the 1950s and were surprised to find themselves quite comfortable there: Gent had put away the electric bass in favour of a stand up, the fellas were wearing suits, and Steven was crooning like Sinatra. Owing largely to their outstanding performance in the finals (and perhaps in part to those suits), Crestwood finished as the first runners-up.

The band went back to its usual line-up changes after the competition, but a new seed had been planted. Gent began introducing Steven to classic jazz artists and albums - in the tour van on the way to shows they were listening to Oscar Peterson, Duke Ellington, and Miles Davis; later exploring the likes of Cannonball Adderley, Charles Mingus, and Joe Pass. As that seed lay dormant for the next two years, Crestwood continued to play rock shows locally and across Western Canada with various drummers. Despite the great musicians playing with them, the response was never the same as when they performed as a duo, and the moments of genuine musical connection were fewer and farther between. At the same time Maier found himself ready to begin writing the next album, but wrestled with new songs for months as his proficiency at guitar caught up with the ideas in his head. At some point he could no longer ignore the fact that he was learning to play jazz guitar, and embraced jazz elements in his own pop infused writing.

Today, in a different basement somewhere in Saskatoon, Steven and Gent are moulding a new sound, writing new songs and rearranging old jazz standards, and generally enjoying their new creative freedom. During live shows, which they now play exclusively as a duo, Gent and Steven contour and shape the music as they play.  Improvisation is a vital part of what makes Crestwood so interesting to hear live, and they believe that inspiring musical moments are not planned, but rather happen naturally when players are listening to each other and celebrating the environment they are playing in.  Their simpler instrumentation strengthens these moments at the same time as it evokes a sense of nostalgia for a simpler time. Crestwood is excited to entertain audiences with their genuine, distinct brand of music.

Band Members