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""This Machine " CD review"

The Mike Estep Band By Allen Czelusniak Jan 12, 2000
As opposed to bands that balance their sensitive sides with loud guitars and drums, the Mike Estep Band ignores any impulse for a big-boom-crash sound on This Machine (independent). Featuring nine original songs and a few covers to fill out the mix, This Machine succeeds as a comfortable vehicle for Estep's songwriting and the musical talent of his cohorts.
The Baldwinsville-based quintet defies standard description. They're a bit more rocking than the average VH-1 band but a lot less rocking than anything on modern-rock radio. Estep's songs feature the sensitivity found in the singer-songwriter vein, but the band's full sound stands apart from the solo artist genre. While reflective, the music here maintains an upbeat quality and peppy jangle.
Lead guitarist Jeff Favalo and singer Dani Gottuso do a marvelous job complementing Estep's songs and singing. Favalo shows a clear understanding of how Estep's songs work, knowing when to lay back and when to step up and deliver clean melodic accents. His picking beefs up "Falling" and "Train of Lies," while the addition of his fat slide guitar to Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry" turns an otherwise standard cover into a quality interpretation.
Gottuso's powerful singing leaps out in the band's vocal mix, and her singing strengthens Estep's somewhat monotone delivery and propels the material. Where he strolls, she sails. Her backing vocals on "Falling" and "Circus Lights" energize these songs and others throughout the disc.
And Estep establishes himself as a credible songwriter on This Machine. He tells stories, understands melody and knows how to use a chorus and the occasional stop time to highlight his material. The accessibility of the songs makes the album a far cry from cutting edge in terms of its content or sound, but the quality of the musicians and production (recorded at Todd Hobin Studios) make it easy on the ears.
Estep's "This Time" shines as the album's best track. His writing approaches Springsteen-ish levels on this track, which would have fit in rather nicely on the Boss' Tunnel of Love. The band delivers a heartfelt performance, with Favalo adding understated accents on guitar, Gottuso filling out the vocals and drummer Steve Orlando showing enough sense to play it straight.
Even though the word "nice" can sound trite and dismissive, it accurately describes This Machine. The Mike Estep Band delivers 12 songs and 45 minutes of genuinely pleasant, well-performed music that won't shake up your world.
- Syracuse New Times

""This Machine""

Artist: Mike Estep Band
CD: This Machine
By Jennifer Layton

New York’s Mike Estep Band takes rock and roll back to basics. It’s acoustic guitar-driven and kept simple. We get a variety of musical flavors, like the Latin-influenced “Showtime” and the jazzy feel of “Train of Lies.” We also hear some lovely alto flute on the ballad “Circus Lights.” But most of this music is basic, gritty, unpretentious rock.
Estep focuses on his lyrics, which are his strong point. I love “Snowplow Jockey”: “There’s my old boss’s mailbox, I can lay it out flat. Then fill in his driveway, help him work off some fat. Drive around waitin’ til his shovelin’s done, plow it in again, man this job is fun.”
He vividly describes a storm in “Showtime” and corporate soulessness in “This Machine.” He’s also picked an appropriate cover song – Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry.” It’s interesting to hear a stripped-down guitar-driven version compared to Henley’s keyboard-driven original.
All the songs are performed in a friendly, laid-back style, like the band members are just hanging out in the living room, strumming away. It adds a comfortable atmosphere to the CD.
Artist Website:

""Next In Line" CD review"

"Next In Line (One Live Evening)"

"The Mike Estep Band surely has its own sound.

"With Estep and Jeff Favalo on guitar and vocals, Steve Orlando Jr. on drums and Paul Opel on bass, the Syracuse band dives into a whole bunch of very cool original songs with talent and great enthusiasm.

"But listening to the band's third disc, "Next in Line," it's hard to keep a handful of national icons out of your head.

"Like a lot of extremely successful bands, Estep and mates also stray from the strictly rock edge every now and again. With the Eagles it was folk and country, for Steve Miller it was the blues. Estep isn't afraid to meander into all those fields, then return squarely to the kind of meat-and-potatoes rock work that brought those shouting fans to The Caribou Club, where this disc was recorded.

"Most of the songs come from Estep's two studio albums. And he picks the best ones. On "One Lane Bridge," Estep sings, "Four-lane highway to a two-lane road to a one-lane bridge." Don't the circumstances of life squeeze like that practically every day? Yet for Estep, this is a chance to show support for his love.

"There also are four new songs. In "Next in Line," Estep sings, "She's next in line on the waiting list for the perfect, perfect love." Again, hope wins out.

"This is a superior live album technically, too, from the attention-grabbing intro and spell-binding guitar start on "Colder Rain" to the seamless segues throughout.

"Put it on when: You're yearning for new songs that show there's a guy in Syracuse who respects the timeless guitar-and-vocals sound that drove the Eagles, Bob Seger, Miller and so many more for decades."
Mark Bialczak, Syracuse Post-Standard
- Syracuse Newspapers

"Ectophiles Review"

"The lyrics are well-crafted and interesting--appealing to intelligent people without being overly esoteric. This is a band that deserves to succeed"
The Ectophiles Guide to Good Music
- Ectophiles Guide to Good Music

"Round Sound"

"Estep and his band have a sound that is unique...maturity of focus that is typically born of live performance...The band has a stylistic vision and the talent to realize it."


""One Lane Bridge" CD review"

"The songs here are solid and well written…..brings back memories of early Springsteen…..the story of the song being the focal point."



"One Lane Bridge" 1998
"This Machine" 2000
"Next In Line" 2002
"From The Vault" 2007

All three releases continue to recieve airplay in the Northeast U.S. and Europe



When it’s all said and done, there’s only one way to describe the M.E.B.:

It’s all about the songs.

These songs are about people you know, places you’ve been, things you’ve felt. The single mother working extra shifts to give her kids something to dream about, and never complaining about the burden. The Vietnam vet taking his son to see The Wall and trying to make sense of it all. A walk along the carnival midway on a starlit night with your lover. The fine line between man and machine, blurred even more in this age of technology. A broken heart, a broken trust, a broken spirit. But yet, a belief that there are better days ahead.

It’s all about the songs.

You can feel it in the live performances, be it a local club, festival or the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Steve Orlando, Jr. steers the ship with his soulful vocals and expressive drumming. Paul Opel provides the solid foundation with his energetic bass playing and frenetic stage presence. Tim Herron rounds things out with his searing guitar and blues tinged vocals. And Mike Estep wraps it all together with his driving acoustic guitar, a voice that you can’t forget, and real emotion that makes every audience member a part of the experience.

It’s not about how hard or fast you can play. It’s not about how much money you can make. It’s not about becoming a superstar.

M.E.B.. Since 1998. It’s all about the songs.

Critically praised original music, performed with a wide variety of uniquely flavored covers, wrapped in a package of pure fun.