Steve Vaclavik and The Woeful Ones
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Steve Vaclavik and The Woeful Ones

Tampa, Florida, United States | SELF

Tampa, Florida, United States | SELF
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"Steve Vaclavik and The Woeful Ones CD Release Show"

Steve Vaclavik and The Woeful Ones CD Release Show w/Unpainted Souls Steve Vaclavik has been spreading his brand of twang around the Bay area for many years and this weekend finds the local troubadour releasing his first album with his full band, The Woeful Ones, which currently includes Mike Worrall (bass, guitar mandolin), Tom Stephens (guitar, harmonica), Chris Harmon (lead guitar, bass, mandolin), and Bill LaGrandier (drums, percs). Tattoos and Tattered Hearts was recorded at Pro Star Studio, and while the music is Americana at heart, the band draws heavily on the sounds and spirit of folk, rock, country and blues, bringing full-bodied warmth to Vaclavik’s songwriting. His lyrics ponder the good, bad and ugly moments of life via the perspective of working-class folks, underdogs, old souls, vagabonds and other downtrodden souls with a healthy dose of wisdom and humor. His deep drawling vocals are forlorn, wry or all-knowing, and he waxes on anything from the hardened gun-toting narrator in “Bury Me with My Boots On,” who declares, “There’ll be no need for handkerchiefs, ‘cause no one will be crying,” to a man who has a “Shamrock Tattoo” for luck (but doesn’t seem to have any), to the leftovers of a relationship that has ended, “Broken Heart and a Cat.” - Creative Loafing


"Artist of The Day"

It’s always a good sign when an artist names an album Tattoos and Tattered Hearts, and the album actually comes with a free tattoo.

Okay, it’s a temporary tattoo, but still, we appreciate the effort on the part of Steve Vaclavik and the Woeful Ones. Vaclavik, a longtime and prolific solo singer-songwriter around town, formed the band in 2009, and after a few lineup changes, the group — Mike Worrall (bass, mandolin), Tom Stephens (guitar, harmonica), Bill LaGrandier (drums), Chris Harmon (guitar, banjo, dobro) — releases its first full-band CD this week.

Tattoos and Tattered Hearts is a more collaborative effort than Vaclavik’s previous solo works, with songwriting contributions from Stephens and others. “All the guys are writers and have a good sense of what works and what doesn’t,” Vaclavik said. The result is a more fleshed-out collection of road-weary Americana anthems, from the barroom tubthumper Shamrock Tattoo to the swinging Chicago blues number If That Ain’t The Blues. 42 at 17 echoes Bruce Springsteen, while Oh Lakota is a sonic cousin of Greg Kihn’s The Breakup Song.

“If you had to give this CD a theme, it’d be average folks just trying to make it through the best they can,” Vaclavik said. “Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they make mistakes. and mistakes can hurt. We’re all older guys and we’ve made our share of mistakes and seen enough made by other people. So a wealth of content should never end.” - TBT Soundcheck


"Artist of the day: Steve Vaclavik and the Woeful Ones"

In 1994, singer/guitarist Steve Vaclavik started playing solo gigs around the Tampa Bay in the singer-songwriter scene. After doing this on and off for several years, he decided to devote more time to his music.

"2007 was when I seriously thought about putting a lot of effort back into music and seeing where it went, regardless of where it went,” Vaclavik said.

Last year, on his latest CD, The Roof Needs More, he and producer Jody Gray expanded his sound to that of a full band by playing all the additional instruments themselves. Then, partly by necessity and partly just because it was something that he’d meaning to do, Vaclavik finally put a real band together. He recruited a few friends who, in turn, brought in a few of their friends, and Steve Vaclavik And the Woeful Ones were born.

Accompanying Steve are Brandon Ruck on guitar, Mike Worrall on bass, Mike McKee on guitar and Jay Ingle on drums. Together, they take the country-folk songs of Vaclavik and give them new a new depth, adding elements of rock and blues to the mix.
Steve couldn’t be happier with the band he ended up with.

“I’m surrounded by great bunch of musicians that have given the songs that I put together a whole new life,” he said. “I’m a three-chords, a-mic-and-the-truth kinda guy, and those guys are the real musicians that give us the full sound that we have when we’re playing.”

Though they get put into the Americana genre, the Woeful Ones have a name for the type of music they play.

“We’ve come to call it, for ourselves, 'Twang Rock,’ because we like that connotation,” Vaclavik said. “Also, our guy Brandon, he hates the idea that we play anything close to being 'country’ because he’s the rock dude.”

This Saturday, Vaclavik and the Woeful Ones will play as part of WMNF’s Do Me Like That: The Tom Petty 60th Birthday Party/Tribute. It’s a big deal for Vaclavik, as he sites Petty as big influence on his music.

“I grew up in north Florida and I came across Tom Petty at a pretty early age,” Vaclavik said, joking: “I honestly don’t have a classic singing voice. I never had any vocal training, so you get what you get with me. Part of that, I blame on Tom Petty, because I tried to sing exactly like him, which may not have been the best route to go.“

At the tribute show, Vaclavik and the Woeful Ones will take on three very different Petty songs: You Got Lucky, Something Big and Refugee, putting their own slightly twangier touch on each.

The group is one of more than a dozen bands performing at WMNF’s Tom Petty tribute concert at 5 p.m. Saturday at Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. Tickets are $12-$15. (813) 971-0666. - Tampa Bay Times (tbt)/Times Publishing Company


"'Long Grass and the Tall Trees' from Curtis Ross, Tampa Tribune - Friday Extra"

Vaclavik's warm baritone gives his acoustic folk-pop extra resonance. This brief album (or long EP) is full of warm reflections on love, life and heroes (“Bob Dylan”). (Curtis Ross - Music Critic, Tampa Tribune - Friday Extra Section, September 12, 2008.) - Curtis Ross - Tampa Tribune - Media General


"'Songwriter knows his strengths' from Michael Dunn, Tampa Tribune, 1996"

Growing up in rural north Florida, Steve Vaclavik spent many an afternoon alone, kicking around the backwoods of Madison County and soaking up the sounds of solitude.

It was an upbringing that would mold him into ‘The Loner,’ a brooding singer/songwriter in the tradition of a young Johnny Cash.

Standing alone at the mike, a guitar dangling from his shoulders, the 31-year-old Tampa musician strums a simple tune onstage. But listen to his vocals, and the lyrical strength of his tunes becomes evident.

“I’ve always been able to write,” he said. “I’m not the greatest guitar player; I readily admit that. I’m not the greatest singer, either. But I’d put my songwriting skills against any other songwriter. I really believe in what I’m writing.”

With an ear for eloquence and an eye for detail, Vaclavik crafts his songs around the emotions of everyday life. Songs like ‘Bus Window,’ ‘Swinging Gate’ and ‘Little Rabbit’ exemplify the personal and poignant nature of his work.

“My songs come from pieces of things I’ve observed,” he said. Usually, it starts with a phrase, and I’ll build from that. The theme of my songs is ‘watch out for the underdog.’ There’s always an underlying character of the underdog who, he may not win, but he’ll put up a good fight.”
- Michael Dunn - Tampa Tribune - 1996


"'Long Grass and the Tall Trees' from Wade Tatangelo, Creative Loafing"

“Following his gruff, antiwar Internet hit "I've Lost All Faith," which reached No. 11 out of 2,570 selections on Neil Young's "Living with War: Songs of the Times" website, Tampa folkie Steve Vaclavik releases Long Grass and the Tall Trees. The eight-song batch of originals, recorded at Pro Star Recording in St. Pete, features Vaclavik mostly alone with his acoustic guitar (there's understated percussion interspersed), strumming familiar chords and singing intriguing tales like the murder report "Run Mary." The only misstep is the track "Bob Dylan," an imagined meeting with the rock poet, which, at this point, is about as relevant as a "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" cover.”
3 stars (Wade Tatangelo, Creative Loafing, Tampa, April 2008.)
- Wade Tatangelo - Creative Loafing


"Singer/Songwriter Show Preview - October 2008"

NIGHTLIFE
Free and original: What's not to like?

STAFF REPORT
Published: Thursday, October 16, 2008 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 at 1:37 p.m.

Tired of the same ol' cover bands? The Distillery Tavern in Bradenton is hosting a free monthly Songwriter Showcase.
Up first on Saturday (from 7 to 9 p.m.) are Emily Roff, Steve Vaclavik, The Last Resort and Jim Somers. All four play original material, ranging from folk to alternative.
(The Distillery is at
108 44th Ave. E.; 739-7845; www.the-distillery.com.)

The showcase is organized by Rob Gorley and Sarasota Folk Club publicity manager Brad Fitzgerald. Gorley, a songwriter himself, gives his take on this month's participating artists:

Emily Roff (www.myspace.com/emilyroff)
"Emily lives in Bradenton. She is a terrific vocalist and musician and her acoustic blues are astonishing to listen to. Her voice is so versatile and the lyrics she writes are heartfelt. Her CD is entitled 'Analog.' "

Steve Vaclavik (www.myspace.com/stevevaclavik)
"A Tampa resident, he plays acoustic, Americana and folk. He is a great musician and vocalist and his songs really hit home, with tons of imagery. His song, 'Long Grass and Tall Trees,' is currently at No. 18 on the Tampa Bay original music chart on Music Tampa Bay (MTB; www.musictampabay.com). Steve's CD, 'Long Grass and Tall Trees,' has been featured on MTB, and Steve has appeared on Channel 10's 'Studio 10' talk show. He is also a member of the musical organization, Just Plain Folks, Tampa Bay chapter."

The Last Resort
(Gorley and David Wise; www.myspace.com/robgorley)
"We both live in Bradenton. David has performed in over half the states of the U.S. and six other countries. He has been playing guitar for over 50 years. I've been writing mostly country music for a little over a year. David and I have written several songs together. Our song, 'Fixer Upper,' made it to No. 5 on the original music chart at MTB this summer and a song I wrote with another writer named Jeff Stottlar, 'Wag More, Bark Less,' is currently No. 19 on the MTB chart and was also featured on the Just Plain Folks of Tampa Bay's MySpace site in September. I'm a member of Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and the Tampa Bay chapter of Just Plain Folks."

Jim Somers
"Jim is a Bradenton resident who has been writing music for about 30 years. His CD entitled, 'Leaving the Nest,' is a terrific collection of acoustic, rock and ballads. Jim has played at several local establishments over the years. Jim has had a couple of his songs get radio play, including ''73 Dodge Dart.' His Vietnam War ballad, 'Tet,' is currently No. 8 on the MTB chart."
- Sarasota Herald Tribune


"At The Bunker, a songwriting smorgasbord"

(This is the 10th entry in Soundcheck's summer concert series, The 50-50 Club. For previous entries, click here.)

Something special is happening right now in Ybor City. Something epic, even.

Saturday, of course, is WMNF’s 28th annual Tropical Heatwave, featuring more than 30 bands in and around the Cuban Club, including some of Tampa’s best: Magadog, the Mojo Gurus, the Beauvilles, Will Quinlan and the Diviners, the Bird Street Players and Roppongi’s Ace.

Before that, on Friday, is Rootstock 5 at New World Brewery, with reggae and hip-hop favorites like D’Visitors, Tribal Style, Breakdown and Badda Skat, as well as hot up-and-comers like Laws, Dynasty and Anonymous.

And on Thursday, the coffeehouse and music venue known as Tre Amici @ The Bunker celebrated the second anniversary of its weekly Songwriter’s Night with a who’s who of Tampa Bay singer-songwriters: Ronny Elliott, Rebekah Pulley, Geri X., Dean Johanesen, Lorna Bracewell and more.

These are artists who have toured the country, played at festivals like South by Southwest, opened for international headliners and appeared on network TV. You ask anyone who follows the local music scene to name Tampa’s best bands, and their list would no doubt look an awful lot like this. And all of them are playing in a 72-hour span within a single 7-block radius.

I’ll just come out and say it: This is one of the greatest three-day stretches of local music Ybor City has ever seen.

“There’s so much more that Tampa has to offer,” Jessie Stehlik, the effervescent mastermind behind Songwriter’s Night, told the packed crowd on Thursday. “This is just a little glimmer of it.”

That's true, although, “little” may be the wrong word. Thursday’s four-hour showcase at The Bunker featured 19 performers (including Stehlik herself) performing a total of 45 songs, divided among three sets.

I know what you’re thinking: Four hours, and 45 songs, is an awful long time to sit in a coffeeshop listening to acoustic guitars. I totally hear you. The Bunker is kind of small, especially when the center stage encompasses six chairs, and four hours of coffeeshop rock is, under most circumstances, about three and a half hours too many.

But when you have a rotating roster of performers like this, each of whom is performing three of their best songs, time tends to fly.

Now, I own a guitar. And I can play the chords of C and G, and on my better days, D. Clearly, I am a golden god. But these guys – good lord. The diversity of the music coming out of their six-strings was astonishing.

Bouncy alt-pop singalongs (Dean Johanesen). Rollicking railroad anthems (Steve Vaclavik). Fiery indie rock (Geri X.). Spoken-word story-songs (Ronny Elliott). Cuticle-warping guitar explosions (Chucky Luv). Rock ballads ripe for Top 40 (Shane Meade). Southern handclappers (Mike Worrall). Quirky retro Americana (Judy Tampa). Achingly tender vocal performances (Sheila Kirsten Hughes). Deceptively simple pop gems (Lorna Bracewell). There wasn’t a Phoebe Buffay in the bunch.

And as the night wore on, I came to realize that these artists weren’t just the cream of the Tampa Bay songwriting scene. They inspire the Tampa Bay songwriting scene.

Leigh Humes played a track called Rebecca’s Ghost, which was inspired by Rebekah Pulley. Bracewell played a song inspired by herself, written by her equally talented partner, Lexi Pierson. Geri X. was accompanied by her bassist/boyfriend/muse Greg Roteik. Stehlik and her father, Jerry Merrick, sang songs that Merrick had been singing to Jessie since she was a girl.

The warm Caffe Mocha and drizzly weather outside added to the ambience. You should have seen Vaclavik on the chugging anthem Run Mary, with lightning streaking across the slate-colored sky through the window behind him. If that sounds like bad poetry, well, cut me some slack, I was in a coffeeshop. It’s to be expected.

This wasn’t necessarily a one-time only performance; a lot of these artists have performed together before, and will again. Most of them play gigs at bars and coffee shops every week. Geri X., for example, is playing at the Globe Coffee Lounge Friday.

But combine it with Rootstock and Heatwave, and this supersized Songwriter’s Night was part of something special in Ybor City.

And it’s only Friday. There’s still time for you to be part of it, too.
- TBT Soundcheck (TBT - St. Petersburg Times)


"Steve Vaclavik: The Roof Needs More"

Steve Vaclavik: The Roof Needs More
Vaclavik's tone can range from Warren Zevon-wry to hellfire-preacher fierce. Sweet love songs such as “My Little Gift to You” lighten the darkness of the title track and “Run Mary,” originally from Vaclavik's “Long Grass and the Tall Trees” disc, is reprised here in an electric version. (www.stevevaclaviktwang.com) - The Tampa Tribune, Friday Extra


"Steve Vaclavik - The Rood Needs More - From www.altcountryforum.nl"

Ik heb iets met Steve Vaclavik. Een muzikant uit Florida, die ooit vergeleken is met een oude comfortabele bank. Op het oog lijkt het niets, maar als je er eenmaal op zit wil je er niet meer van af. Je kunt dat eveneens van zijn liedjes zeggen. Steve begeleidt zichzelf op de akoestische gitaar en perst er op zijn tweede plaat “The Roof Needs More”met gemak elf eigen composities uit. De folk- en americanaliedjes komen bij de eerste beluistering soms wat eentonig over, vergelijkbaar met Bob Dylan in het begin van zijn carrière. De humoristische teksten van zijn drie minuten durende songs zijn essentieel. Hij wordt spaarzaam begeleid door Jody Gray op basgitaar en drums. De akoestische gitaar, mandoline, resonator en banjo neemt Vaclavik zelf voor zijn rekening. De minimale omlijsting geeft een spannend tintje aan zijn monotone nummers, die na langer luisteren helemaal niet zo alledaags klinken als aanvankelijk leek.

Nummers als Seperate Dreams, Sunrise of Gold, Run Mary, Pick Ourselves Up ademen de folky sfeer van Dylans Subterranean Homesick Blues. Op “The Roof Needs More” staan tevens ingetogen en meeslepende songs als het titelnummer van de ep, Autumn Rose en Dance Little Girl. Ik hoop niet dat ik een verkeerd beeld heb gegeven van The Roof Needs More. Deze troubadour laat zeker een eigen gezicht zien en horen op zijn nieuwe schijf. Het laatste album van Steve Vaclavik heeft door zijn eenvormige karakter iets spannends en zal daarom terdege bij de luisteraar opvallen. - www.altcountryforum.nl


Discography

Tattoos and Tattered Hearts - available through our website and CD Baby, as well as other outlets

http://www.thewoefulones.com
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/stevevaclavikandthewoefu

Photos

Bio

Deeply rooted in the Americana tradition, Steve Vaclavik and The Woeful Ones, comprised of Steve Vaclavik, Bill LaGrandier, Chris Harmon, Mike Worrall and Tom Stephens, have managed to create their own genre of music. You take equal parts rock, country, folk and blues, mix it all up and you get a tasty, self-styled format they like to call 'Twang-Rock'. Their music has been described as somewhat moody (in a woeful kind of way) and at times lighthearted with a driving, in-your-face delivery that draws an audience in and leaves them knowing they have been part of a 'happening'.

Do yourself a favor and “Get yer Twang-On!”

The Band:

Steve Vaclavik:
Tampa resident Steve Vaclavik is a troubadour in the tradition of Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt. His songs are full of the truth as seen by ordinary people. These people often tend to be life's underdogs, and Steve has the special gift to capture their perspectives on the world with genuine understanding. His words, full of humor and insight, are the essence of his music, but his Dylan-esque vocals and spare guitar playing provide a fitting framework that rings true and clear.

Mike Worrall:
Mike Worrall wears a lot of hats. In addition to his songwriting, an amalgam of folk and blues and country influences that can range from plaintive to ironic to darkly humorous, he is also a multi-instrumentalist with many years of experience. Whether playing bass, mandolin, guitar, or drums, Mike brings intensity and a dynamic approach that focuses on the song as a finished product. From coffee houses to concert stages, from swanky hotels to honkytonks, for Mike Worrall it’s been a million miles, thousands of gigs, and hundreds of towns… picking, singing, laughing & living.

Tom Stephens:
An accomplished guitarist, harmonica player and singer/songwriter, Tom’s rootsy, down-home approach lends itself to his Texas upbringing. His influences are vast, ranging from Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys, Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark to Robert Johnson, Kris Kristofferson, John Prine and Southern Rock greats like The Marshall Tucker Band. Now residing in Tampa, Florida, Tom has played all the major Florida Folk Festivals, numerous clubs and House Concerts.

Chris Harmon:
Chris played lead guitar for several working rock groups including "The Berkshires" and "Nachez Trace" in the Cleveland, Ohio area during the 70s and then moved to Tampa, Florida where he helped form the popular Tampa Bay folk-rock group called "The Baker Act". These days he plays electric guitar for "Steve Vaclavik and The Woeful Ones", bass for "The Crabgrass Cowboys", bass for "Glory Road", and mandolin for "Laurentians".

Bill LaGrandier:
Started playing percussion in 1961, and hasn't stopped since. Played in bands of all genres of music, from classical orchestra, to heavy metal, as well as foreign cultural drumming. Drumming for Bill is not just a beat, but a rhythmic expression of one’s inner soul.

The 'Backstory'

Late summer 2009 brought about Steve Vaclavik's second studio album ‘The Roof Needs More’, this time featuring a full band sound with Steve playing guitar, banjo, resonator and mandolin with Pro Star Studio Chief Engineer Jody Gray rounding it out with his complimenting drums and bass playing. To recreate that sound live, Steve put together a new band, Steve Vaclavik and The Woeful Ones. The band consisted of fellow Tampa Bay Area songwriters and musicians Mike Worrall on bass and mandolin, Mike McKee on guitar and six string banjo, Brandon Ruck on lead guitar, resonator and mandolin and Jay ‘Jay Bone’ Ingle on drums. Songs from ‘The Roof Needs More’ have been featured on WMNF and WSLR. Steve Vaclavik and The Woeful Ones can be described as follows: Middle-aged singer songwriter dude Steve Vaclavik and his Woeful Ones sound like life – the good, bad and ugly of it. Vaclavik's tone has been described as ranging from Warren Zevon-wry to hellfire-preacher fierce as he sets his drawling vocals against the band’s rambling blend of roots, folk and Americana.