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You’re Free to be Steve

April 22, 2008
By Taylor Kuykendall
Steve Free—even the name sounds majestic. Yet, if all that the man had was a name, I would not waste a word of your time. Steve Free is the Appalachian Jimmy Buffet, the Native American Bob Dylan, and the friendliest musician I have ever met. After several coffee shop meetings that unfortunately have been getting too far apart, Steve Free has inspired me—to travel, to meet people, and to get in touch with nature.

The music swings about from folk ballads to island party music across his multiple albums, and the songwriting is unique and genuine. Each song is a reflection of life and love for the people and places that Free has encountered, and his perspective is often very different from many other folk writers.

One of my personal favorites is the “Ballad of Battery L,” a marching thunder of a song that weaves the tale of a Civil War company at Gettysburg. Free once told me he spent hours in the library researching the story, and was later told that even the re-enactors and historians of Battery L were impressed with his accuracy.

Steve Free is nothing short of professional every time he takes the stage. He has won a slew of professional writing and performing awards, but still plays the small venues across the tri-state area. You can usually find him at a local coffee shop, playing his heart out to small, enraptured crowds.

His newest album, “All Points Between,” is a masterpiece and has warranted many repeat listenings from this music fan. Ballads of Mexican border crossers bring a tear to the eye, while jaunting dance folk like the opening Down by the River urges you to your feet. The environmental lament of “When the Trees Are All Gone,” reminds us that our Appalachian friend has roots in Native American culture and songwriting and makes you seriously reconsider your own environmental impact.

The beauty of Steve Free’s music is that he comes from a different angle when he protests. He’s not here to tell you what you are doing is wrong, and he’s not professing perfection himself. He merely states what he sees, but in prose and metaphor that makes the message simultaneously enlightening and entertaining.

“Jamaican Lady” sounds straight out of Margaritaville, and even the most discriminating parrot heads will be drawing comparisons. Yet, if I had to pick out one weak point on the album, I must admit that I do not particularly enjoy the cover of “Homegrown Tomatoes.” “Nothing against,” Free’s personal rendition, I think it just may be the song itself. I may be wrong though, I have a few friends that think it’s the best song on the album.

Steve Free is constantly touring and you can usually find him around the Huntington area, performing his songs and selling his albums the old fashion way. He writes beautiful compositions and plays them with heart. If you find a show, I recommend you check it out, and more importantly try to stay after and talk to the man for a while. He has more stories, adventures, and lessons than what a current album CD has the space to hold.

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Contact Taylor at tkuykendall@graffitiwv.com

Fact Box

Select Upcoming Shows in the Huntington area, visit www.stevefree.com for more:

April 25
8 p.m. Borders
Huntington Mall
Barboursville W. Va.

May 3
2 p.m. Camden Park
Opening Day
US 60
Huntington W. Va.

 
 

 

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