Dan Stevens
Gig Seeker Pro

Dan Stevens

Band Blues Folk


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



"At Home at Sea and On Stage"

Dan Stevens, an acoustic blues guitarist, is used to the question: "Since Connecticut isn't exactly known for a rich blues heritage, why did you settle here?" Judging by his enthusiastic reply, he's not tired of answering.

"Actually, I came here for the sailing," Mr. Stevens said from his home near the water in Old Lyme. " I had an opportunity to be the first mate on the schooner Brilliant at Mystic Seaport. When I went full time with the music, I decided to stay."

A musician who owned his own wooden sloop and hired out on schooners, he might be expected to play sea shanties rather than blues. Yet that's what Mr. Stevens has been playing since high school. He plays in the fingerpicking tradition of Dave Van Ronk, with whom he studied in New York City for 2 years.

Mr. Stevens, whose vintage guitar collection includes a fire-engine red 1950's Silvertone, a 1931 metal National Steel guitar and a lime green dobro with a genuine Ford Thunderbird hubcap affixed to the guitar face, prefers the blues of Mississippi John Hurt, Jimmy Reed and Robert Johnson. He has just released his second self-produced CD, "Broke Down and Hungry," which includes eight original songs as well as songs from Count Basie, the Rev. Gary Davis and Big Bill Broonzy.

"My first guitar teacher told my parents I'd never be any good, so I quit", said Mr. Stevens, a native of Bellefonte, Pa. "Then a few years later, I saw this guy - Bill Joyce - fingerpicking and I said, 'That's what I want to do.' "

As soon as he graduated from Penn State in 1971, Mr. Stevens grabbed his guitar and saw the country by hopping freight trains ("I read a couple of books on Woody Guthrie," he said). He eventually would work a variety of jobs, teaching elementary school in Phoenix and rock climbing in New Mexico. He played the blues on the side or wherever he could. Then Mr. Stevens learned to sail while on an Outward Bound trip in Maine.

"I loved sailing immediately," he said. "I moved to Bar Harbor, working on a schooner. I had no experience, but I learned as I went. That's when I first played professionally."

Mr. Stevens moved to Portland Me., which offered a bigger music scene, More odd jobs. Then he read that the Brilliant needed a first mate. "It was interesting because it was a training vessel," he said. There was me, the captain and a group of people we had to teach. We'd sail for a week at a time, all over New England."

When Mr. Stevens wasn't sailing, he maintained the ship. During the winter months, he would hook up with rigs sailing in warmer waters One was a 72-foot schooner owned by David Crosby, of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

"When I answered the ad, I didn't know whose boat it was," he said. "I was a little leery because the woman who interviewed me didn't volunteer it at first. I asked about the captain and somehow we began to talk about music. She said the captain plays and so does the owner. Then she mentioned the owner was David Crosby. I said, 'I'm interested.' "

"I thought, this'll be great. All Crosby's friends are people like Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne. But I barely saw David. He wasn't on board a lot. We didn't get to be good buddies."

When Mr. Stevens returned to Mystic he was determined to go full time with his music career. Within a couple of years he was opening for such national acts as Arlo Guthrie, Richie Havens, Kathy Mattea, Gatemouth Brown and Livingston Taylor.

" I started out playing locally and gradually expanded my touring until I started traveling heavy, which has been for about the last five years. ," he said. "I do most of my work from Maine to D.C. but go on a southern tour a few times a year. I've been going to the Virgin Islands one or two times a year and will be taking my third trip to England next month."

Mr. Stevens, who will play at least seven Connecticut shows in March (visit his website at www.danstevens.net) played in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis sponsored by the Blues Foundation. While there he heard the familiar question.

"They think everybody in Connecticut is like Letterman, so they are surprised I play blues guitar," he said. "Even Dave Van Ronk asks: 'How can you live in Connecticut? It's more expensive than Greenwich Village.' " "I tell them it's right between Boston and New York and when I'm not working, I can go

- New York Times

"Broke Down and Hungry"

Dan Stevens hails from Connecticut and is no stranger to English shores. His annual visits to our island generally results in London performances and all points west (well, Devon actually) and he's an authentic bluesman well worth catching if spotted in the neighbourhood. Normally a lone performer, on this custom release (as on his debut CD) his music is augmented by a number of friends, creating an effective band sound for much of the recording. In actual fact, comparisons with The Blues Band are striking - both play with fluid ease, accommodate plenty of variation in style and tempo to ensure that the listener is never left high and dry.

The CD opens with a little sparse picking but momentum is effortlessly acquired as Drivin' Fool slips effortlessly into gear. From there the foot remains firmly on the peddle for much of this ride, although when changes do occur, it's the smoothest of transmissions. The construct of the songs and music owes much to the delta and country blues formats, but on occasions the genre is played around with, diluting the form with country, folk and gospel influences. There is no overall ill effect by this stance - indeed a refreshing balance is achieved. The employment of occasional female backing singers adds variety to the vocal score, while Sugar Ray Norcia's harmonica cuts in just when it's needed.

Just as the CD cuts loose so effectively (and all that runs between is equally worthy) so Dan has the finale wrapped up in no less and accomplished and suitable manner. The coupling of Light of This World/Angels Watching Over Me is a wonderfully spiritual concoction and conclusion, witnessing one of the few raids on the back catalogue of others. Dan's slightly weary vocals supply just the right level of emotion and intonation laid over some fine picking, backed by Glenn Hardy's sympathetically rounded piano playing.

Dan has written the bulk of the songs himself and such is his immersion into the genre that you'll find it hard to believe that you're not listening to standards. Well worth taking the trouble to obtain - available at gigs or via Dan's website - www.danstevens.net .
- Traditional Music Maker, London UK by Peter Stevenson

"Dan Stevens Broke Down and Hungry CD Review"

This troubadour of mostly acoustic blues has the knack for capturing the essence of the blues. He has racked up numerous gigs from Maine to Georgia during a three year period, so the "road tested" bluesman label honestly applies. Broke Down" is the sophomore effort by Dan, better than his impressive debut due to the accompanying musicians. The harpmaster Sugar Ray Norcia (formerly of Roomful of Blues) lends his harmonica on a few cuts, one of the best being "Drivin' Fool." "Open Road," another allusion to highway life, is punctuated by fine picking and harp. "Broke Down and Hungry" flows with the melancholy spirit of a Robert Johnson number. "Ramblin" deals with hopping freight trains as rambling man, and listening to Dan's music gives a sense that what he sings, he lives. Two Big Bill Broonzy numbers "Keep Your Hands Off Her" (one of the disc's best tracks and "Long Tall Mama" are included. As acoustic blues appears to be on the rise, Dan Stevens will no doubt join the ranks of Paul Rishell and Keb Mo with strong cuts that convey authenticity. A recommended disc - Blues Rag, Baltimore Blues Society by Bill Camp

"Dan Stevens .... Broke Down and Hungry, by Art Simas"

Dedicated to the people who took care of him on the road, Dan Stevens compiled this CD while he was literally "Broke Down and Hungry," rambling from Maine to Georgia. After more than 165,000 miles in three years, his 1988 Chevy van gave out on him, leaving him inspired to write about his condition.
Traveling is what Stevens likes - whether it is on the road or along the fretboard. You won't find him being a vagabond on his instrument, although he's hopped a few freight trains to nowhere during his day.

"Drivin' Fool", "Open Road", the title track and "Ramblin" are four of the first six songs that definitely get things rolling down that lonesome highway. Seven of the 11 cuts are originals by Stevens. The covers are from Billy Eckstein, two from Big Bill Broonzy and the Rev. Gary Davis. In addition to the rubber-meets-the -road wanderings, Stevens summons a very nice gospel spiritual on the last song,"Light of This World/ Angels Watchin' Over Me."
He said he likes to have a lot of movement in his hands on his songs that dig deep into the heart of the Delta. Mississippi John often travels with Stevens on his journeys into familiar, yet unknown country blues territory.

In the liner notes, Stevens thanked Dave Van Ronk and Paul Rishell for their encouragement and support. Much like Van Ronk and Rishell, Stevens is a great songwriter and teller of stories. That's what the old-timers used to say - the blues has to tell a story. And better songwriters, such as Stevens, tell better stories.
- Blues Spectrum - New England Blues Society


Future Blues
Broke Down and Hungry
Road to Memphis



At the age of sixteen, Dan Stevens' yen for musical adventure was awakened by his first guitar teacher with tales of traveling blues musicians like Mississippi John Hurt and Fred McDowell. Inspired by Woody Guthrie’s book, “Bound for Glory,” the lure of the road captured his imagination and wouldn’t let go. Driven by this passion, he hitchhiked and hopped freight trains in a musical odyssey across the United States that covered more than 100,000 miles.
Always seeking new experiences, he worked as a teacher in Pennsylvania and Arizona, a rock-climbing instructor in New Mexico, did a stint riding bulls in Colorado, and sailed schooners along the Eastern seaboard. He lived on his own wooden sloop in Mystic CT for a couple of years while performing as a solo artist up and down the East Coast. As mate aboard the Mayan, the sailboat of David Crosby’s (Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young), Dan sailed the waters of Central and South America.

He continued to hone his guitar skills with slide guitar lessons from renowned guitarist and W.C. Handy Award winner Paul Rishell, and later studied with folk/blues icon Dave Van Ronk during the last years of Van Ronk’s storied life. His repertoire reflects the influence of his revered teachers who performed with many of the legendary blues masters. His tastes include Delta “bottleneck slide” blues, the more carefree Piedmont style, and complex arrangements with a variety of chord changes in the spirit of Dave Van Ronk. His originals remain true to the traditional influences that shaped his early musical development and amaze listeners with the authenticity of his style.
A full time professional musician since 1991, Dan continues to tour along the East Coast, throughout the U.S., the Virgin Islands, U.K., and Germany. He has appeared with such artists as James Cotton, Charlie Musselwhite, Arlo Guthrie, Richie Havens, Charlie Daniels, Livingston Taylor, Ronnie Earl, and others. An avid guitar collector, Dan surrounds himself with vintage and custom instruments acquired along his musical journey. He never travels with less than three guitars; any given performance may find him switching from a 1950’s Sears Silvertone to a 1931 National Steel, to a lime green Resophonic.

Dan’s latest CD, “Broke Down and Hungry,” features the harmonica of “Sugar Ray” Norcia of Sugar Ray & the Bluetones and Roomful of Blues. Several of his traditional offerings include Big Bill Broonzy’s “Keep Your Hands Off Her” and “Long Tall Mama”, as well as Reverend Gary Davis’ “Light of this World.” Art Tipaldi, Senior Writer for Blues Revue magazine writes “His stylish finger picking and warm vocals shade these tunes with fresh, penetrating nuances.” Original songs such as “Broke Down and Hungry,” “Driving Fool,” “Open Road,” and “Ramblin” reflect the images and moods inspired by a life on the road, traveling 165,000 miles in three years in an ’88 Chevy Van.” A consummate entertainer, Dan engages live audiences with personal experiences and memories surrounding his music.

Called “Connecticut’s hardest working bluesman” by the New York Times in 2002, he plays over 200 engagements a year, including concerts, clubs, festivals, coffeehouses, community and private events and educational programs. He has appeared at Long Island’s Riverhead Blues Festival, the Berlin Blues Festival in Connecticut and headlined the acoustic acts appearing at the Fleet Blues Festival in Albany, New York. Dan won the 2004 Connecticut Acoustic Blues Challenge and represented the state at the International Blues Challenge on Beale Street in Memphis in February, 2005. He lives in Old Lyme, Connecticut with his wife Gail and daughter, Haley.