Steve Eck and the Midnight Still
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Steve Eck and the Midnight Still

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | INDIE

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter

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"THE ANATOMY OF EVOLUTION: ROCK PROPER AIMS FOR MIDDLE-MAN-FREE MUSIC DISTRIBUTION"

Songs in the Key of Eck
Many of the artists on the site honed their musical skills in New Orleans while
in college, but only a few still call it home. One of those is Steve Eck. After
graduating from Loyola in 2002, he spent a brief stint living in Chicago. “Our
band moved after college to try and ‘make it in the big city,’” he said, “and the
drummer never even left Slidell.” Eventually people moved on and Eck was
left in the windy city on his own. “I knew a lot of people there, but they all had
day jobs and were mostly set up, so I was kind of lonesome,” he said. “That’s
really when I started writing solo music.” He returned to the city in October
2005, taking up residence in the shattered hull of post-Katrina New Orleans.
“Every time the wind blew, the power went out in the Bywater,” he said.
His second solo release, Syrup Song, was one of the first albums to debut on
Rock Proper. His style is defined on the site as “cemetery love triangle songs,”
and common threads of loneliness, drunkenness and chaos run throughout his
work. Having heard only this, I expected that he would -- to be honest -- be a
bit of an asshole. You know, the type in a pearl button shirt who will talk your
ear off about his love of Tennessee whiskey and the genius of Johnny Cash
(not that I’d argue the value of either of those things, but you get my drift).
I, instead, found him to be refreshingly humble. He’s the kind of guy who
would take lengthy measures, utilizing his print making skills, to handcraft his
album covers by personally silk-screening cake boxes with simple yet striking
designs.
Sporting a mop of messy hair and a black zip-up hoodie speckled with pizza
stains, Eck is the very picture of down-to-earth. And all the while, he is truly a
musician coming into his own. He talked of his penchant for self-deprecation
at the beginning of his solo career. “I couldn’t believe I was writing solo
music,” he said. “It just felt so pretentious, so I named my first EP Songs
in the Key of Eck.” The lampooning continued with the first incarnation of
his backing band, which he dubbed Steve Eck and the Ladyfriends. “It was
just me and my friend Matt Martin on drums,” he said. “So Matt was my
ladyfriend.”
He has spent the last year solidifying a lineup of impressive musicians to
play his solo material alongside. And his efforts paid off richly on his latest
album. “I gotta give a lot of credit to the guys in this incarnation of the band,”
he said. “They’ve definitely moved the songs to a different place.” He cites the
inspiration for all his work as simply the people and places that surround him
here in New Orleans every day.
His latest release, Drag it Out, Burn it Down, continues in the same lyrical
vein as Syrup Song but possesses a much richer sound due to his new band
packing a seriously powerful sonic punch - Antigravity


Discography

Songs In the Key of Eck (2005) EP
Syrup Song (2008) LP
Drag It Out, Burn It Down (2010) LP

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Bio

During the Mardi Gras after Katrina, Steve’s dog nearly took off my right arm. I had returned to the crescent city for the first time since the storm had nearly wiped her off the face of the earth. After months of staring at the TV monitoring the struggling vital signs of the fragile city I loved, I had come to pay my respects, survey the damage and (of course) watch some off-duty circus clowns spit fire under the viaduct to the rowdy crescendos of a punk rock brass band while costumed revelers rammed costumed shopping carts into each other.

After a night on frenchman street, we had returned to Eck’s upper 9th ward abode. When I entered the front door I was trailing Steve by about 15 feet. I didn’t think much of the distance between us but apparently it was enough to trigger the 2 dog security system. They assumed I was a stranger and sprung into action. While I tried to keep the smaller dog from barking, a large Mastiff calmly placed his jaws around my elbow engulfing nearly half my arm. His steady eyes implied that he could remove this fragile appendage should I make a move he didn’t like.

True, this wasn’t the welcome I had expected but it was somehow fitting. While I was reading about Katrina in the paper from my comfortable Chicago apartment, every living creature down here had been going through some serious trauma. Things I could never imagine had happened on these streets. The large glassy eyes starring up from behind powerful jowls seemed to communicate to me that everything I had read and heard about, all the pain and suffering, had really happened. What to me was imaginary was a reality they had to live with everyday.

When Steve turned around, he began laughing hysterically. He batted the dog’s head away and poured some Carlo into to two small plastic cups, Zulu parade cups I think.