Steve Kunzman
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Steve Kunzman

Califon, New Jersey, United States

Califon, New Jersey, United States
Solo Folk Americana

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Super Lawyers: When did you decide to be a lawyer?
Steven Kunzman: I'm a third-generation lawyer. My grandfather started practicing law in 1913, and was subsequently joined by three of his brothers, actually. My father joined them whenever that was, I guess in the early '50s, and then I came along.

What kind of law do you practice?
Mostly environmental, predominantly environmental litigation, some environmental transactional work. I received a master's of environmental law from Vermont Law School and that's been the largest part of my practice, some toxic exposure cases, mostly in the environmental arena.

And you write songs. How does that fit into it?
Being a lawyer and being a songwriter deal with the truth but in very different ways. Lawyering—you try to find the truth through facts. Songwriting—facts are somewhat beside the point.

That's interesting. How does the practice of writing feel similar between lawyering and songwriting?
Every word counts. There are only a few of them. And compassion fits into both. As a lawyer you're using compassion with your client. And in songwriting it's really all about your heart and soul.

Has songwriting helped you as a lawyer?
It helps me be more open and creative, to try not to be wedded to something that seems to be the standard approach.

And you studied with Rosanne Cash?
She taught a course called "The Essence of Songwriting" at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, which is an institute for holistic studies. It was a magnificent couple of days. She would say, ‘Learn how to use furniture.' She would talk about [how] you have your home—the house is your song—but you need furniture in it to show people, to have some meaning, some depth.

I love that. Was it intimidating?
Actually, not really. By halfway through the first day I went, ‘Wow, I guess I am a songwriter. I understand this. I have something to say. I have a unique style.' And everybody's style is OK, you know; there's a difference between Richard Thompson and James Taylor. They're both great, in different ways.

Do you have your next album all ready to go?
I have plenty of songs. There's always more in process. It's just a matter of clearing out the logic. Because sitting down to write, it's like meditating. You have to let things go and see what's left.

Sounds like you have a lot left.
I hope so (laughs).

To buy the album, go to stevekunzman.com. - New Jersey Super Lawyers



Every songwriter has a specialty: some excel at communicating love, others lust, still others the blues. With his sophomore CD Back Home, Steve Kunzman emerges as an expert in rendering the essence of home as restorative power, as light in the distance and light in the heart. With two-time Grammy-winning producer Ben Wisch (Marc Cohn, Patty Larkin, Peter Wolf) and some top flight musicians, Steve offers eleven songs of deep, soul-stirring Americana; moods range from rollicking to whisper-soft, from twang to mist-dripping melody. A current of solace through connection runs throughout.

Nine years have passed since Steve’s 2003 debut Find The Moon. Find The Moon came after years spent making music, and several tenures as a student in a songwriting workshop led by Rosanne Cash. (Cash calls Steve’s work “totally original and beautifully honest.”)

Over the ensuing near-decade – a blip of time for a father of four like Steve – music and songwriting remained integral to his life, but he focused on family and his environmental law practice. The opportunity to finally commit the resulting richness to CD, and the wherewithal to follow through, coincided not long after he and his wife sent the last of their brood off to college. Enter Ben Wisch, who gently urged Steve to make the leap, to be an artist. Steve agreed.

Wisch, an acclaimed pianist, called in bassist Zev Katz (Hall & Oates, Kris Kristofferson), drummer Chris Marshak (Steve Winwood) guitarist-banjoist-dobro-ist Kevin Barry (Lucy Kaplansky, Ray LaMontagne) and violinist-vocalist Elana Arian (Dirty Projectors). With Wisch at the helm, this ensemble fleshed out Steve’s acoustic guitar and burnished vocal based tunes, offering groove and atmospherics to the yearning title track, sly rhythmic underpinnings to the darkly comic Tom Waits-esque “Another Fine Day,” and an Afro-Cuban feel to the shadowy “About To Disappear.” While Back Home’s sawdust-on-the-floor treatments of “Lucy Brown” and “Coffee Every Day” honor Steve’s years playing in bars, this album gives equal time to the shelter one seeks not only from honky-tonkin’, but from the inevitable slings and arrows of life. Ballads “To the Edge of the Sea” and “Canadian Winds” glow with love beyond romance, radiating heartfelt strength given and received in the face of challenges. But every man needs a bouquet-of-roses tune, and for that, country-standard-sounding “Sweet Dreams” is valentine perfection. Bookending the tracklist are songs in which a narrator is either heading home – the title track – or longing for home lost – “Man Without a Home”; neither of these guys is Steve Kunzman, but for the grace of music, they could have been. Thanks to a well-worn guitar, songs, and family, he’s the man behind Back Home, a collection shining like a porch light in the darkness
- RBW


Although they reside on different coasts, Steve Kunzman and Beth Robinson are two friends of ours with day jobs entirely unrelated to music. Yet both are musicians at heart. While doing the 9 to 5 thing, they have also managed to devote countless leisure (though that's far too passive a word) hours to creating music. They have sought out the company of fellow musicians, have attended music workshops and music camps and open mikes with no financial compensation, certainly, and at a good bit of cost, in order to engage their passion. And now they have each written, performed and produced their own cds. Both albums are pretty much in the folk/country idiom with Kunzman delving a bit more into blues, Robinson a bit into pop and jazz. Both write of subjects near to their heart with occasionally striking insight. They each nod slyly to the lives they have chosen, the former in a resigned but unabashed manner, the latter in a hopeful, romantic style. Their singing styles reflect their outlooks. Kunzman sings with a soothing, worldly-wise, occasionally world-weary rasp, Robinson's voice is robust yet intimate. There is an unpolished authenticity to their singing, the very quality that endows their music with a lack of pretension and gives balance to the occasional missed note or heavy-handedness of a lyric. They have both surrounded themselves with talented sidemen/women and both albums contain some very tasty instrumental touches. Each of these cds possesses and reflects a lifetime of musical passion and is the culmination of its creator's musical dreams, thus far. You can help those dreams along by giving a listen. (Kunzman's cd is available at amazon--link above--Robinson's can be heard in part and/or purchased at cdbaby.com)

Choice Cuts Howl at the Night, Catch Your
- Adultpop.com


As a kid, Steve Kunzman strummed a tennis raquet and sang. The 48-year old songwriter has come a long way since then, recently releasing his first CD, Find the Moon, on Shady Grove Records.
Fans of storytelling singers with smoky voices would do well to check it out.
Mr. Kunzman’s songs resonate with the notes of America’s musical past. His raspy baritone drifts through folk songs spiced with flavors of bluegrass, country, blues and pop.
“My songs tell about experiences in my life… they’re about being human,” says the Tewksbury resident.
Love, loss, marriage, work, parenting, lost dreams and death – these timeless themes blend with unique instrumentation to color the landscape of his songs.

****

Steve is an incredibly valuable voice, “ [Rosanne Cash] said in a press release announcing the new CD. “He brings a level of skill and instinct that is totally original and beautifully honest.”
- Hunterdon County Democrat


Whether you are an enthusiast of the Americana musical style or a fan of clever and poignant lyrics, this CD will not disappoint.
Kunzman’s songs show a reverence for America’s rich and varied musical history. He effortlessly blends musical instrumentation, lyrical hooks, timing changes, and melodies from folk, country blues, bluegrass, and pop and imprints it with his unique storytelling ability.
A long-time student of Rosanne Cash, Kunzman has the ability to uniquely describe love (both romantic and parental) and loss (both human and canine).

***

His words are intelligent and enigmatic – he allows you to discover their meaning rather than giving it to you. His stories can be both heartwarming and heart wrenching. Clever construction of his songs emphasizes the impact of his words

***

Each time you listen to Find the Moon, you will discover something new. Steve Kunzman definitely has the stories of the human condition pegged from amny different angles.
- Black River Journal


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Steve KunzmanEvery songwriter has a specialty: some excel at communicating love, others lust, still others the blues. With his sophomore CD Back Home, Steve Kunzman emerges as an expert in rendering the essence of home as restorative power, as light in the distance and light in the heart. With two-time Grammy-winning producer Ben Wisch (Marc Cohn, Patty Larkin, Peter Wolf) and some top flight musicians, Steve offers eleven songs of deep, soul-stirring Americana; moods range from rollicking to whisper-soft, from twang to mist-dripping melody. A current of solace through connection runs throughout. Steve was nominated for 2 Jersey Acoustic Music (JAM) awards this year: album of the year and folk/americana performer of the yea

Steve performs his songs solo as well as with members of the Rodeo Gypsies: Greg Molyneux on bass and vocals; Brett Levin on keyboards, melodica, ukulele, guitar and vocals; Liam McWilliams on pedal steel and banjo; Patty Antol on vocals percussion; Brian Dugan on drums. In addition Steve is often joined by Bo Child on mandolin and Adam Krass on violin.

Band Members